And now it's time for Night of the Living Dead, George A Romero's 1968 horror classic that made the zombie genre what it is today. It's a ridiculously awesome, low budget fake gore fest that's actually still pretty creepy today. TSPTD lists it at #201, which is pretty good for a movie that reportedly cost a little over $100,000 to make.
Full Disclosure: I'm a little bit of a secret zombie movie junkie, I have seen Night of the Living Dead, and I'm 100% on board with its potential cheesiness because it's awesome, OK?
So Johnny and Barbra are out in the country for the day, putting a wreath on their father's grave, when they encounter a strange figure in the cemetery. Unfortunately, on top of being strange, he's also strong, bloodthirsty, and undead. Barbra manages to escape (Johnny isn't so lucky) and she takes refuge in an old, empty farmhouse nearby. She's now in an (increasingly irritating) state of shock and has pretty much lost it by the time Ben gets there - which is a lucky thing, because without Ben she'd be zombie food in about three seconds.
Because Ben insists upon doing Things That Make Sense - using fire to scare off the zombies, boarding up the house, etc. Wish Blonde Chick would get with the program...it seems like she prefers to do Things That Piss Me Off, like wandering around the house aimlessly, screaming hysterically, rambling nonsensically, and generally distracting Ben from saving their asses.
After a while of being trapped in the house, just when they're starting to feel a little secure, a new conflict introduces itself - in the form of stubborn Harry Cooper. He and four others (including his wife and daughter) had been hiding in the basement. Harry likes to argue. He also likes to have stupid ideas, such as suggesting that they all go hide in the basement...where they can't see what's coming and have no exit strategy if the zombies manage to break through the one and only door. I could say more, but I think Lt. Aldo Raine said it best:
|"You know, fightin' in a basement offers a lot of difficulties. Number one being, you're fightin' in a basement! "|
So after a whole lot of macho posturing, Tom and Judy (the other couple) decide to stay upstairs with Ben, while Harry goes back to his wife and daughter in the basement. Even Harry's wife thinks that he's a moron - their daughter is injured and he's just cut them off from the television and radio, where they could potentially get information or instructions. We see who wears the pants in this relationship; they quickly rejoin the others, while Judy goes back downstairs to keep an eye on the little girl (because women are interchangeable and only suitable for child care).
- I'm just going to go on the record right away and say that I think the fact that this movie was made on the cheap goes a long way in adding to the creepy atmosphere. And I don't care if the music was public domain and originally used in the Hollywood abomination, "Teenagers from Outer Space"...it's creepy!
- "They're coming to get you, Barbra." Best line of the movie. Pretty unsettling, in a campy kind of way.
- I'm sorry, but Barbra is probably the most useless human being I've ever seen in my life. I realize she's in shock and her brother just died, but that's no excuse for spending the entire film alternating between hysteria and a catatonic state.
- I'm gonna draw a line in the sand and I say that I prefer the slow-moving zombies to their cheetah brethren. I find it really effective that with these zombies, it's not their speed or strength that will get you - it's their numbers. Also I think it makes more sense (although it's probably a mistake to look for sense in a zombie movie) that a creature that has a decaying human body as its mode of transportation would understandably be a little ungainly.
- Words can not express how awesome Ben is. He is the model that every person trying to survive a zombie apocalypse should strive to emulate. He's calm, cool, collected, resourceful, and oh so very badass. And it's fantastic that it's an African-American character who has all of these strong characteristics and leadership skills - instead of being, you know, the first one to die.
- I love when Ben goes outside to fight the zombies and it Could Not Be More Clear that he's slamming his weapon into the ground about two and a half feet from the zombie's head, instead of actually hitting the zombie. Yay for Special FX!
- No blonde chick, don't turn on the music box with its sinister, tinkling song! Don't you know that music boxes, like small children, are guaranteed to amp up the creepiness factor of any horror movie by at least 40%?!
- OMG. Did I just see a black man slap a white woman across the face...in 1968?! Damn.
- "If you're stupid enough to go die in that trap that's your business, however I am not stupid enough to follow you. It is tough for the kid, that her old man's so stupid. Now get the hell down in the cellar. You can be the boss down there. I'm boss up here." Oh Ben. There are no words. You are so cool.
- I am unhappy that in this film the zombification (screw you spell check, that is a word) is a result of a space probe from Venus with a high level of radiation. Really, movie? That's lame.
- I have to hand it to the film, watching the zombies gnawing on human entrails is pretty disturbing.
Want to know more about the Top 1000 List? Check it out and see if your favorites are here! They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?