Scene from Night of The Walking Dead, Issue 59: November 1993

They’re Dead … They’re All Messed Up!


I remember that day back in 1968 when I saw these strange zombie creatures in an ad for a horror movie called Night of The Living Dead. I was four years old then, and didn’t understand how bodies of dead human beings could rise up from the grave and kill. Hell, I’m still trying to get over how sirens that wailed in the night terrify me to this day! I guess it’s a cry for help. But no one heard the cries of the occupants of the country house in Pennsylvania when George A. Romero unleashed the undead in Night. There is something even more chilling than sirens.

And that of course is the taunting line: “They’re coming to get you Barbra,” says Johnny in the cemetery just before he’s attacked by a lanky white-haired zombie. To be a critic is a very bad thing, but when you are young anything can scare you! Now I’m older and realized that Romero’s vision was all a low-budget Halloween scare thrown together in a bizarre mosaic that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should see this film; it proves that anyone, if they don’t take themselves seriously, can direct a small budget film and have it scare the piss out of you.

I admire Romero for this. But I can’t help but feel that this film became a classic by accident. Every character was either too bland or ultra annoying. If they were meant to be that way, then Romero is a God. 

Barbra, the blonde woman who watches her brother get murdered in the cemetery, begs to be brutally kicked around for sheer annoyance. Ben, probably the movie’s best character, isn’t a sensitive character and sometimes has redeeming qualities.

The family downstairs adds to the annoyance. I guess you can tell that it was an uncomfortable film to watch. The truth is, the film drags. The zombies make it even more unbearable, they are about as imaginative as the panhandlers and wino’s downtown.

The saving grace of the whole film is when Karen, the family daughter who has been bitten by a zombie, dies and comes to life attacking her mother with a garden spade. It rivals the shower scene in Psycho for sheer terror. 

With all these flaws you may be wondering why I recommend you view Night of The Living Dead? It’s a breakthrough film. It started the gore fest films of today, but it had a lot more “sophistication” (if you can call slurping up a tender spleen or pancreas sophistication). It’s a film that was made on a low budget and yet still manages to grow on you. It’s a film that I probably would have liked to make if I had $1,200 to throw around.

But it took a lot of balls for a guy to convince his neighborhood that they would be famous only if they went to the butcher shop and ate raw liver—Romero has my respect for that. I’m still trying to convince would-be writers that they could be famous if they’d only write an article for B-Lame. So, rent Night of The Living Dead, invite a few friends over, have a few beers, smoke ’em if you got ’em, shroom if you have to and maybe this film will freak you out. —Clyde

Read more from the SLUG Archives:
Miscellaneous: A Short Pony Beard
Literature: I Can’t Tell You Anything by Micheal Dougan