Skip to content


I guess I just like liking things

I’m not a huge fan of zombies as a movie monster. I get that there’s social commentary and all that, but when you get down to it, it’s a reanimated rotting corpse that eats people, and that’s gross. I much prefer vampires as a movie monster (the mean kind, not the sparkly kind), but I’d probably go with aliens over them, even.

In spite of my general distaste for zombies, my wife and I have been watching The Walking Dead. Because we’ve been watching it, I’ve been playing the Telltale games, and because of those, I started playing State of Emergency, and because of all that, I’ve started reading the Walking Dead comics. I got a lot of zombies going on right now, is what I’m saying. This is all way over my general intake, which was basically Plants vs. Zombies.

notldBecause of all of these zombies, I decided to watch Night of the Living Dead. This 1968 movie is generally considered to be one of the most important zombie movies – it’s not the first, but it is the most responsible for how we think of zombies today – and this is in spite of the fact the word “zombie” is never mentioned in the movie.

The IMDb synopsis is “A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse,” and it’s hard to add to that, really.  Here’s a slightly longer version, and I guess there are spoilers for an almost 50-year-old movie, so be careful I guess?:

Johnny and Barbra are visiting their father’s grave in Pennsylvania when Johnny is attacked and killed by a zombie. Barbra barely escapes and holes up in a house, and she is soon joined by Ben, who barricades them in the house while the crowd of zombies around the house grows ever larger. After they’ve been there a while, some other people come upstairs from the cellar where they’ve been hiding, and soon there is a lot of fighting over what they should do and what’s going on. The radio and TV only give snippets of information, but it’s enough to reveal that it’s happening all over the place. Pretty soon everybody’s dead except for the roaming posse of armed men who are trying to help manage the zombie problem. The end of the movie is a bunch of still photos showing the cleanup of this one area, with no indication of what’s happening worldwide.

It can be weird for me to try to watch older movies sometimes. They feel different than modern movies in ways I don’t completely understand. Part of it is the filming methods, part of it is the acting, part of it is… a bunch of other stuff. So aside from all that, here are some of the other things that struck me about this particular movie:

  • Ben, the main hero character, is black. In the context of this being made in 1968, that really stood out to me, especially since it didn’t really play into the story – by that I mean it didn’t seem like racial tension was a major theme. Sure, there was a white guy who didn’t let Ben back into the house immediately, and Ben did end up shooting him, but I don’t know if that was motivated by race or by the disagreement they had over what they should do. I’m sure many articles have been written about it by people more qualified than I to address the subject.
  • The zombies used tools!  On two occasions, a zombie picked up a rock to break windows. Another zombie used… a 2 x 4, I think? to break headlights. This was the thing I had the most problems with, because zombies don’t use tools, man. Very strange.
  • There was a scene that lasted a couple of minutes of the zombies eating parts of two people who died when a truck blew up, and I was very surprised by how gross it was.  Apparently the filmmakers used ham covered in Bosco to stand in for human parts (the movie is in black and white), and there’s plenty of chewing going on. So much more gross than I expected from a movie made in 1968.

Overall, I enjoyed it more than I expected to, much like you’d enjoy a history class, I think. It’s interesting to see how the zombie genre has changed over the years … and how much hasn’t changed. Well worth your time if you’re a fan of the genre at all. I’m planning to check out the other George Romero zombie movies, so I’ll let you know how far I get with those.

Written by: