Night of the Living Dead Paper

For a film class I'm taking, we had to write a review/analysis of a movie and I picked Night of the Living Dead. I just want to see what you guys think of it. 

I highly doubt George Romero knew what he was unleashing upon the world with his film, Night of the Living Dead. While not the first zombie movie, it certainly is one of the most influential, with his slow, shambling undead setting rules and an image of zombies in the minds of the general population. Gruesome special effects, a dark depressing ending and commentary on social or societal issues of the times have all become staples of the zombie movie genre, without a doubt because of this movie. The special effects and make up in this movie definitely show their age, but the half eaten woman in the upstairs of the farmhouse and the zombies eating the bits of Tom and Judy after their death in the truck still look semi-convincing and look good, even if they don’t live up to the modern day expectations that come from shows like the Walking Dead. While conflicting statements by George Romero make it difficult to tell if it was on purpose or simply because Duane Jones gave the best audition, the casting of a black man as lead brings a civil rights message to the movie. Ben takes charge of the group inside of the farmhouse, strikes a white woman and beats a white man, is the most level headed individual throughout the movie and is ultimately the last one standing. His male counter part, Harry Cooper, is usually detrimental to the group. He stays in the basement instead of helping people who he hears screaming. He undermines Ben on multiple occasions and even tries to kill him as the house is being overrun by undead. Having a black man take such complete control over a group of white people and stay level headed and reasonable the majority of the time was unheard of at that time and the movie helped illustrate the point that deep down inside, we’re all the same and the potential to be a leader or detrimental to society doesn’t matter based on one’s skin color. On a darker note, the stills at the end of the movie of the zombie hunters using tools usually reserved for farm work to drag Ben’s body into the pyre resemble old photographs of the Ku Klux Klan lynching and mutilating the bodies of African Americans. While the movie has the strong white and black male leads clashing together, the rest of the characters remain flat, especially the females. Barbra becomes half brain dead and basically comatose after her initial encounter with a zombie and plays very little a part in the movie afterwards; Judy has no role other than making Molotov cocktails and getting killed. Only Helen Cooper has any sort of effect on the story, and that is just convincing her husband to cooperate with everyone upstairs. The camera work in the movie isn’t anything fancy or special. The camera is usually very close up on the humans and zombies, adding to the suspense in the situation and making the viewers feel as claustrophobic as the people trapped inside the house are. It also uses objects such as car windows, tombstones and trees, doorways and other house hold items to provide a frame to some shots. There is one match on action shot in the movie, when Ben is flipping over a table to break it. It’s a quick shot though, and I only caught it upon my second viewing; it is a very cool shot though. The lighting in the movie is initially very bright, but as the first crack of thunder is heard and the first zombie is seen, the movie darkens up and the shadows become much harsher and, when in the house, bathes the characters in darkness, reflecting the situation and the despair the humans in the house feel. The movie lights up in the middle when Ben and his fellow survivors think that they have the house secure and they are in a safe spot. The little light there is doesn’t go far past the house, making every move outside the house an adventure into the unknown. The music in the movie is loud, kind of screechy, and dramatic and occasionally sounds almost alien, things that were not uncommon in horror movies of the time. However, the music serves to make the action significantly more exciting and raises the creepy factor of the zombies significantly; it also provides a few jump scares early on. I enjoyed this movie quite a bit, not just as a fan of zombie movies but also as a movie viewer. While some parts of the movie, like the action scenes (specifically the fist fights between actors) did not age well, that is to be expected by a movie that was made back in 1968. But some pretty solid actors, a claustrophobic setting and plenty of close to medium range shots help up the scary atmosphere and make the action more intense.

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