Night of the Living Dead (1968), directed by George A. Romero, is widely considered to be the origin of the modern zombie genre. It has spawned countless sequels, remakes, and imitations and, frankly, continues to stand out after 50 years.
The plot is simple: a group of strangers take refuge in a farmhouse while the dead rise from their graves and attack the living. The film follows the survivors as they try to cope with the situation, deal with their personal conflicts, and find a way to escape. The film is low-budget, but it makes up for it with its gritty realism, suspenseful atmosphere, and shocking violence. The film also has a strong social commentary, touching on themes such as racism, sexism, classism, and media manipulation. And, frankly horror movies are best served in the low-budget arena.
The film is not for the faint of heart. It is very graphic and disturbing, especially for its time. The zombies are not the slow and dumb ones we see in most modern films; they are fast, relentless, and smart. They use tools, communicate with each other, and even show some emotions. They also eat human flesh in gruesome detail, which is not censored or cut away. The film does not shy away from showing the horrors of the zombie apocalypse, and it does not offer any hope or happy endings.
The film is also very well-acted and well-written. The characters are realistic and complex, each with their own personality, motivation, and flaws. They are not just stereotypes or cannon fodder. They have believable reactions and interactions, and they make rational decisions based on their circumstances. The dialogue is natural and believable, and it does not rely on exposition or clichés. The film also has some memorable lines and scenes that have become part of pop culture.
The film is a masterpiece of horror cinema, and it deserves all the praise and recognition it has received. It really is the grand-daddy of the modern horror film; It is groundbreaking and influential in the zombie genre and horror in general. If horror is your thing, and you haven’t seen this yet, you must.