Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead

This week we’re watching George A Romero’s seminal classic Night of the Living Dead, which made zombies a household name.

The figure of the zombie has its roots in the folklore of Haiti, a Caribbean country where some practitioners of voodoo believe the dead can be reanimated through magical means. The first ever zombie film was 1932’s White Zombie, which stars Bela Lugosi as an evil voodoo master who controls a crew of zombified servants. This concept of creating zombies via the dark arts was seen time and again in the ensuing decades, before Night of the Living Dead dispensed with the backstory by depicting corpses rising from their graves at will. And thus, the sub-genre as we know it was born!

Night of the Living Dead revolutionised the horror film, in ways that went beyond its depiction of zombies. Romero paved the way for the suburban slasher films of the 70s and 80s by shooting his horror not on some spooky soundstage, but in rural Pennsylvania, an ordinary and unremarkable setting that many people across America would be familiar with. Meanwhile, his casting of Duane Jones, a person of colour, as the story’s hero was groundbreaking for the time.
Romero would go on to become one of the most influential horror directors of all time. He released five more entries in the Dead series, including Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, but he was far more than just “the zombie guy”. Creepshow, a horror comedy anthology written for the screen by Stephen King, is among Romero’s best work, but his personal favourite film was 1978’s Martin, which follows a troubled young man who believes he’s a vampire.

If you liked Night of the Living Dead, check out… Well, any zombie movie! Romero’s legacy can be seen in titles like Dawn of the Dead (both the ’78 original and the ’04 remake), Shaun of the Dead, Train to Busan, One Cut of the Dead, as well as TV series like The Walking Dead! Or maybe you could play Resident Evil and The Last of Us! The world just can’t get enough of zombies, and neither can we.