Night of the Living Dead (1968)

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WRITING (John A. Russo/George A. Romero): Although watching this film today, it comes off as a bit campy, the straight-forwardness of the story is very nice. It jumps us right into the zombie action without wasting time with pointless character introductions or boring exposition. Exposition is given to us over a radio and various TV announcements playing over characters doing actions, so you’re not just forced to sit through minutes of exposition. The ending then wraps things up in a not-so-nice bow by bringing it together with racism in America. It’s straight-forward while having layers to it. Some of the dialogue is campy, but it comes off as charming when given to great actors, like Duane Jones. 10/10

PERFORMANCES (George A. Romero): Duane Jones is easily the highlight of this whole movie. He knocks it out of the park and it’s a shame he isn’t in more than this movie. His emotional acting is phenomenal, especially delivering his opening monologue. The rest of the cast is hit or miss. Judith O’Dea is alright as the traumatized Barbra and Karl Hardman does a great job at the angry Harry Cooper. Keith Wayne is the main outlier as the poor one in the film, giving stiff physical performances and cheesy dialogue deliveries. The ladies in this film are great and don’t flubber in any real way. 8/10

CINEMATOGRAPHY (George A. Romero): The camerawork and lighting for this film is incredible. Romero did an amazing job focusing on the details with shadows and making things look ominous with just lighting. Even completely dark scenes are outstanding because of small hints of light. 10/10

EDITING (George A. Romero): The editing of this film is great. The pacing between cuts is well-done and everything intentional works very well. There are a couple moments of weird cuts where there is a jump cut, probably from a mess-up with the film. It only happens a couple times, but it’s strange. 8/10

SPECIAL EFFECTS (Tony Pantanella/Regis Survinski): The zombie effects and fire effects in this film are perfect, feeling so real and well-done for being made in 1968. 10/10

ENJOYMENT: This movie is still super suspenseful and frightening. Even the jump scares in this film don’t feel so bad because they were constructed well and better than modern jump scares. With that said, there were still jump scares and I don’t feel right giving a perfect enjoyment score to something that uses such a cheap technique. 9/10

MUSICAL SCORE (Varèse Sarabande): The soundtrack for this film is incredible and adds to the ominous tone extremely well. It fits the film very well and is used sparingly enough to not be just filler. 10/10

SOUND (Marshall Booth/Gary Streiner): The sound mixing of this film is great, giving a lot of depth to the ominous tone. The sound design, however, needed improvement because of some actions not having impactful sound, such as Tom hacking away at the zombies’ fingers. There was no sound to it and it made it feel awkward. There were also cricket sounds when the camera cut to shots of zombies outside and it just made it feel comedic. 7/10

PRODUCTION DESIGN (Charles O’Dato): The set design of this film works so much. The house is so memorable and unique, giving it a real identity. The costumes are also well-done, making each character memorable based on looks alone. 10/10

OVERALL: ‘Night of the Living Dead’ is an iconic zombie film that literall created an entire genre. Its connection with racism in America elevates it to a whole new level. It is, however, still held back by some iffy sound design, jump scares, and a couple moments of messy editing.

91/100

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