Night of the Living Dead is one of the most successful independent films ever made. Directed by George A. Romero, it was completed on a $114,000 budget and premiered on October 1st, 1968. The film became a financial success, grossing over $30 million worldwide, earning it a cult classic status.
The story follows characters Ben (Duane Jones), Barbra (Judith O'Dea), and five others trapped in a rural farmhouse in West Pennsylvania that happens to be under attack by a large and growing group of unnamed "living dead"- monsters inspired by earlier depictions of "ghouls" in popular culture. Today, we know them better as flesh-eating Zombies.
Interestingly, many people were outraged when the film was released, and it was heavily criticized for its gruesome, unflinching depictions of gore.
Critics called the film "one of the most gruesomely terrifying movies ever made – and when you leave the theatre you may wish you could forget the whole horrible experience…”
According to the Chicago Sun- Times review, “The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying.”
Readers Digest even tried to warn people away from watching the film in 1968, claiming that it could inspire cannibalism in viewers.
The film eventually garnered critical acclaim, and was one of the first films to be selected in the Library of Congress for preservation, as it had been deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Now, more than 40 years after its release, the film is now considered a classic and makes it onto most "best of horror" lists out there:
- Readers Digest found it to be the 12th scariest movie of all time.
- Rotten Tomatoes gave Night of the Living Dead a 96% score.
- Empire Magazine named it one of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.
- The New York Times' included the film in their Best 1000 Movies Ever list.
- Rolling Stone Magazine named it one of 100 Maverick Movies in the Last 100 Years.
For those who've seen the movie- what were your thoughts? And if you haven't, will you ever dare to watch it? Let us know in the comment section below!