Night of the Living Dead (1968)

(On Cable TV, March 2018) A mandatory stop on every horror fan’s checklist, Night of the Living Dead is the father to an entire zombie subgenre, transforming an old Voodoo bogeyman in the undead monster that has been endlessly copied and adapted ever since. Writer/director George Romero does much with a limited budget, although it does take some suspension of disbelief to go along the film’s various basement surprises. Still, and respite the remakes and adaptations and sequel, it still carries an appreciable punch: While the gore and the dread have all been surpassed later on, the original still works rather well. Judith O’Dea initially looks great as Barbra (“They’re coming to get you, Barbra!”), but it’s Duane Jones who steals the show as the only competent one around. The low-budget restrictions of the film make it lean and mean, with maximum thrills in a minimal space: No wonder it would be endlessly imitated. Since Night of the Living Dead has been in the public domain for a long time, watching it is as easy as calling up the film’s Wikipedia page. This being said, there’s some worth in springing for a high-resolution restored versions: While there’s some charm in the low-grade version, it’s a good enough film that it should be watched as it was meant to be seen.

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