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The 31 Greatest Horror Movies For Your 2005 Drunken Halloween Bash
(That Probably Cost Less To Make Than You Paid to Rent Out A Few Kegs*)
Horror Movie # 16:  Night of the Living Dead

Halloween is a weird holiday. It's the only one where we celebrate spirits, reanimated corpses, and death (if you don't count Christmas). It's the one day out of the year where freaks can look normal and normal people go out of their way to look like freaks. And, best of all, it's a great excuse to pull out your stash of horror DVDs -- ranging from laughable low-budget garbage to quality low-budget classics -- and party like those dancing corpses in the Thriller video. Since many people consider a Halloween Party with the Scream trilogy and some Old Milwaukee a "smashing success," I figured I would put my unhealthy obsession with all things horror to good use and let the world in on the cinematic secrets to giving the best damn Halloween party ever! A new movie will be added daily, right through until the morning of October 31st! You can thank me later. Now, would be fine, too. Either way.

The dead were far less trendy, back in the

Night of the Living Dead
AKA: Night of Anubis
AKA: Night of the Flesh Eaters

Review written by: Alex Sandell

The Story

The dead begin rising from their graves to feast on humanity.  A group of people barricade themselves in an old farmhouse where they are surrounded by the walking dead.  They discover that anyone who dies becomes one of the zombies (although the "Z" word is never used in the film).  To further complicate matters, there is a sick girl in the basement who may have been bitten by one of "those things."  The film starts a "Living Dead" sub-genre and George A. Romero's rules for killing the already deceased (they can only be stopped by destroying the brain) have made zombies as memorable a set of monsters as werewolves (silver bullet) and vampires (stake through the heart).  Over the past decade, zombies have turned into the monster of choice in video games, television shows and movies.  And it all started with this little $114,000 dollar film.

How Many Beers Should Be Consumed Before Watching?

None.  This movie is perfection.  If you're partying, there would be nothing wrong with having a few drinks while watching the film, but don't let alcohol cloud your judgment and make this movie appear to be anything less than the horror classic that it is. 

Gore Score

Choosing between a score of "Light Bruising," "Recently Deceased," "Badly Decomposed" and "Puke-Inducing," Night of the Living Dead is "Badly Decomposed."  I know I'll get emails from people saying there's no way it deserves such a high gore score, but imagine the movie in color (on the other hand, don't watch the horrible "colorized" version).  Even today, the zombies feasting on human flesh would earn the film an NC-17 rating.  Romero had to digitally cover up any eating scenes as graphic as the one in 1968's Night of the Living Dead in 2005's Land of the Dead (the 4th in the official Romero Dead series).  The uncut, unrated Land of the Dead is out on DVD today (10/18/05), by the way.  If you want to see the movie as Romero intended it to be seen, I'd grab a copy (actually, I already did.  It's on its way to my house right now!)! Click "buy now" and you can get it for 30% off!


Would You Like Cheese With That?

Horror movies can be "Easy on the Cheese," "Regular Cheese," "Extra Cheesy" or "Instant Cheese Based Coronary."  Night of the Living Dead is "Easy on the Cheese."  Most of the acting is good (Judith O'Dea's nervous breakdown is slightly grating and exaggerated), the horror is excellent and the claustrophobic atmosphere is -- pun intended -- "to die for." 

Drug Use 

With "Let Off With a Warning," "Pay a Small Fine," "Put on Probation" and "Go Directly to Jail" to choose from, Night of the Living Dead gets "Let Off With a Warning."  There are no illegal drugs here, although the Dead are definitely flesh junkies. 

Sex and the Psycho

Horror flicks and sex go together like romantic comedies and crap.  A terror movie can be rated "Nun," "Curious Schoolboy," "Chick After 8 Beers" or "Paris Hilton."  Night of the Living Dead is a "Curious Schoolboy."  There's a naked zombie walking around.  Sure, that isn't much, but it doesn't take much for a "curious schoolboy" to become ... um ... "interested." 

When Should it Crash the Halloween Party?

Now.  Later.  Over and over again.  This movie is to Halloween what Santa Claus is to Christmas.  If it's not already an annual tradition in your household, make it one.

Will You Hate Yourself in the Morning?

Waking up from a night of partying can be downright depressing.  Waking up with a cheap horror movie in your DVD player can feel like "Sex With a Hotty," "Sex With Someone in Your League," "Sex With Your Sister" or "Sex With a Sheep."  Night of the Living Dead is like having "Sex With a Hotty." Imagine the hottest person alive.  Then imagine she/he has a twin sister/brother.  Now imagine yourself in the middle of a hotty sandwich.  Night of the Living Dead is that good!  George A. Romero and John Russo were just trying to make a movie on the cheap, to play at drive-in theaters.  What they ended up creating is one of the best films ever made, and possibly the most influential horror movie of all time.  This is right up there with the old Universal black and whites.  For co-writing the screenplay and directing this film, George A. Romero has earned a spot right next to Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Alfred Hitchcock and Bram Stoker.  I've probably watched this movie over 50 times, and it never gets old.  The horrible sounds made as Karen knifes her mother to death still send chills up my spine.  And that opening scene, what a masterpiece of the macabre.  "They're coming to get you, Barbara!"  The only thing that could top the first five minutes is the last three.  I can't imagine the balls Russo and Romero must have had when they wrote this ending.  The first time I saw the movie, as a kid, I nearly collapsed in disbelief, and to this day it's the only horror movie that's made me cry.  "That's another one for the fire."  The movie was written as a social commentary on Civil Rights.  It was one of the first, if not thee first, movies to have a black man (Duane Jones) as the lead and never mention his race.  Today it works just as well as commentary on terrorism, pandemics, religious paranoia ("This is like the flood that happened during Noah's time, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah! We are being punished for our sins! The dead are rising, and Judgment Day is upon us!) and, yes, civil rights (the disaster in New Orleans proved we haven't really made much progress in the last 40 years).  Night of the Living Dead was an unprecedented film and it broke ground and paved the way for hundreds of horror movies to follow.  Nearly 40 years later, and it's still unmatched.  This is my favorite horror flick, and if anything comes out of the arduous task of watching 31 horror movies in 31 days and reviewing each of them (a much tougher job than I expected, especially having to write regular reviews for new movies, at the same time), it's that even one person will buy this movie, see it for the first time and cherish it forever. 

"Now you'd better watch this and try to understand what's going on."
-Harry Cooper, Night of the Living Dead

Help keep the Cerebellum
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this movie on DVD today!
This is the Millennium Edition
DVD of Night of the Living
, packed full of extras,
including commentary by
George A. Romero, himself!

<<<Back to Movie # 17|Forward to movie # 14>>>

Fellow horror hound?  Have any comments on this film?  Recommendations for the list?  Email Alex!

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