Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Night of the Living Dead


Even a student of cinema like myself misses an “important” film here and there. Life is not long enough to see all the films you might like to see. Here is one I missed for a long time. And it is an important film, which I define as changing the game in some way. This is the granddaddy of all “shambling zombie” movies, the beginning of the plague we are suffering through right now, and I very much include the popular Walking Dead series, even though those zombies don’t shamble. We watched it for a few episodes, wondering why everybody liked it. It showed me nothing, nothing at all, so we stopped. Now that I’ve seen this movie, I can happily declare that I’m unlikely to ever see another zombie movie, unless it’s funny, like Zombieland.

This little movie, made for pocket change, was demolished by reviewers at the time, but fairly quickly became a cult favorite. These days the reviews are ecstatic. Myself … it’s an okay movie, with one fatal flaw. Fatal for me, anyway. I will always hate, hate, hate a movie where there is no hope! In the end of this one, the last man surviving the assault on the house … is killed by zombie hunters who mistake him for one of the living dead. Or maybe just because he’s black. But movies like Halloween, where Michael Myers transforms from just a bad, bad man into an unkillable thing, or The Mist, where a man inexplicably and stupidly shoots and kills his own son and two others, or utter piece of shit movies like Drag Me To Hell make me want to puke. So, in the end, does this one. Getting to that point was fun, I’ll admit. It was a little like Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth (the first of three editions of Richard Matheson’s great story I Am Legend), barricading himself against the very stupid zombies, only done better. But I’m giving this one a thumbs down.

Incidentally, Roger Ebert, among many others, was horrified to see very young children in the audience. They were fucking terrified. There is no way the theater owners should have allowed kids that young into the theater. Getting scared is one thing, Bambi is scary, but seeing human flesh being ripped from dead bodies … shame on you, exhibitors.