Saturday, June 25, 2016

Spotlight on Independent Films - Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Some weeks we will have interviews with influential people in the independent film world in this column, and other weeks we will spotlight independent movies that had a profound effect on the movie industry. This week, we discuss George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, because it is an independent film that had a significantly profound effect on the entire movie industry. That, and it is the best movie ever made in Evans City, Pennsylvania.

Every legend starts somewhere, and the legend that is George A. Romero started just outside of Evans City, Pennsylvania when he struggled to put together a horror movie that would wind up being preserved in the Library of Congress. One of the great things about independent movies is that they often use real locations because they cannot afford sound stages, and that means that the Evans City graveyard that was used to make this movie still exists to this day. That is a real tombstone Johnny and Barbara visit, but it is not of their father. You can check all of that out on this website, which is a pretty cool read.

George A. Romero set out to upset people, and he knew exactly what type of movie he wanted to make. He also knew what certain types of effects would look like on black and white film, and he used that to his advantage. The thick and disgusting blood you see in the movie is chocolate syrup, which was chosen because it is so thick and looks absolutely horrifying. Romero knew people would be upset with the scenes of zombies eating flesh and playing tug-of-war with one of our hero's guts, and he knew what he was doing when he cast a black lead in a 1968 movie. Romero left nothing to chance, and the results were a classic film.

It is important to remember that this movie was released at a time when civil rights was a hot button issue around the country. Romero showed the size of his brass cajones when he left the scene of his black lead slapping the white, female co-lead in the face in his final cut. It was a scene that initially got the movie banned in several cities around the country, but it showed just how much Romero did not care for conventional thought.

The word zombie is not used in this movie, but it is certainly implied. The visual effects in this movie are startling, but they were simple for Romero to accomplish. George A. Romero wanted to create a movie that no one else had seen before, and that is exactly what he did. With Night of the Living Dead, Romero paved the way for movie makers such as Eduardo Sanchez to make movies like the Blair Witch Project. The Night of the Living Dead is not just one of the best zombie movies ever made, it is one of the most important independent films in the history of the movie business.

George N Root III is a movie fanatic and possible zombie. You can follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or you can send him a message at