Public Domain Movie: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead: Review

Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 black and white film that quickly became a cult classic. The start of the film finds brother and sister, Johnny and Barbra, arriving at a graveyard in rural Pennsylvania. They have brought a wreath for their father’s grave, but it has been a three hour journey and Johnny, who complains that he cannot even remember their father, hates having to make the trip each year, on behalf of their mother who is unable to make the trip herself. Barbra seems to take the matter more seriously and tries to spend a little time at the grave, while Johnny looks irritable and keeps saying things like “Hey come on Barb, church was this morning,” and “Praying’s for church, come on.” In fact, if it was left up to Johnny, one gets the impression that he would simply toss the wreath in front of the headstone and then head for home. He doesn’t want to be there and he isn’t pretending otherwise.

Johnny might resent the yearly visits to his father’s grave, and he certainly shows it, but he is quite an amusing chap and seems to have a gift for mimicry. He first shows this when he remembers an incident from when he and Barbra were children and he scared his sister by jumping out at her from behind a tree. Their grandpa had told him, “Boy you’ll be damned to hell.” Johnny quotes his grandpa in rather a convincing and amusing old-man-type voice. Then when he realizes that his sister is still a little frightened of the graveyard he uses a spooky voice and starts to tease her: “They’re coming to get you Barbra… They’re coming for you!” Unfortunately for Johnny, if it is Barbra they are coming for, it is him that they get, and he is soon the victim of an attacking zombie.

Barbra flees to an old farmhouse where she is soon joined by a man called Ben, who is also trying to escape the gangs of marauding zombies that seem to have appeared from nowhere. Ben proves himself to be a brave and resourceful guy, a man of action, and the star of this particular show. While Barbra sits shocked and almost comatose, Ben sets about boarding up the windows and doors and generally making the house as zombie-proof as is possible.

The majority of Night of the Living Dead is shot in and around the farmhouse (as are lots of zombies), but there is a lot going on that rural Pennsylvanian farmhouse and so the film never slows or gets boring. This is probably one of the best films available in the Public Domain and worth and hour and a half of anyone’s time to watch.

Additional Information

Director: George A. Romero

Cast

Duane Jones … Ben
Judith O’Dea … Barbra
Karl Hardman … Harry Cooper
Marilyn Eastman … Helen Cooper / Bug-eating zombie
Keith Wayne … Tom
Judith Ridley … Judy
Kyra Schon … Karen Cooper
Charles Craig … Newscaster / Zombie
S. William Hinzman … Cemetery Zombie
George Kosana … Sheriff McClelland
Frank Doak … Scientist
Bill ‘Chilly Billy’ Cardille … Field reporter

A.C. McDonald … Zombie / Posse Member
Samuel R. Solito … Zombie / Posse Member
Mark Ricci … Washington scientist
Lee Hartman … Zombie / News reporter
Jack Givens … Zombie
Rudy Ricci … Zombie
Paula Richards … Zombie
John Simpson … Zombie
Herbert Summer … Zombie
Richard Ricci … Zombie
William Burchinal … Zombie
Ross Harris … Zombie
Al Croft … Zombie
Jason Richards … Zombie
Dave James … Zombie
Sharon Carroll … Zombie
William Mogush … Zombie
Steve Hutsko … Zombie
Joann Michaels … Zombie
Phillip Smith … Zombie / Posse Member
Ella Mae Smith … Zombie
Randy Burr … Zombie / Posse Member

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