Night of the Living Dead (Classic Film Pick)
In the context of a social revolution boiling around the ongoing war in Viet Nam, George A. Romero made an independent horror film that shocked audiences to their core in 1968. Filmed on a budget of $114,000, Romero used black-and-white film stock to create a verite masterpiece of revolutionary filmmaking. "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) introduced zombies as a literal metaphor for blood-hungry soldiers of every stripe. Romero's "zombie" device would become a narrative touchstone of universal appeal. Siblings Johnny (Russell Streiner) and Barbara (Judith O'Dea) visit their father's grave in Pennsylvania where they are attacked by a zombie in a textbook chase scene that bristles with fear and suspense. Barbara escapes to a farmhouse where she teams up with Ben (Duane Jones). A small group of refugees hiding in the home's cellar afford the film with its inner motor of conflict that must be turned against the zombies. Romero handles the violence with a Gothic sense of dread. Before it's over, family members will have to kill their one of their own who's been bitten by a zombie. Romero was inspired by Richard Matheson's 1954 sci-fi novel "I Am Legend," but expanded on the doomsday logic to combine commentary with satire in concrete terms of ideological conflict. George Romero went onto to expand on his original concept with a biting attack on consumerist culture ("Dawn of the Dead" - 1978) that once again flipped the horror genre on its head. Romero saw the enemy, and they are the zombie masses among us. There is nowhere safe to hide.
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