Monday, November 26, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Night of the Living Dead

"Night of the Living Dead is a seminal 1968 black-and-white independent horror film directed by George A. Romero. [] The film stars Duane Jones as Ben and Judith O'Dea as Barbra. The plot revolves around the mysterious reanimation of the dead and the efforts of Ben, Barbra and five others to survive the night while trapped in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse.

Romero produced the film on the small budget of $114,000. [] Night of the Living Dead was strongly criticized at the time of its release for its graphic content, but three decades later the Library of Congress entered it into the United States National Film Registry with other films deemed "historically, culturally or aesthetically important".

The film had a tremendous impact on the culture of Vietnam-era America. It is so thoroughly laden with critiques of late-1960s American society that one historian described the film as "subversive on many levels". While not the first zombie film made, Night of the Living Dead influenced countless films and is perhaps the defining influence on the modern pop-culture zombie archetype. The film is the first of five Dead films (completed or pending) directed by Romero. It has been remade twice, in 1990 and in 2006. "  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The original film is available for download at no cost. MPEG4(235 MB) MPEG1(876 MB) MPEG2(3.9 GB)

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"Reviewers disliked the film's gory special effects. Variety labeled Night of the Living Dead an "unrelieved orgy of sadism" and questioned the "integrity and social responsibility of its Pittsburgh-based makers." New York Times critic Vincent Canby referred to the film as a "junk movie" as well as "spare, uncluttered, but really silly".

Nevertheless, some reviewers recognized the film as groundbreaking. Pauline Kael 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… The film's grainy, banal seriousness works for it - gives it a crude realism". A Film Daily critic commented, "This is a pearl of a horror picture which exhibits all the earmarks of a sleeper". []

Since the release, critics and film historians have seen Night of the Living Dead as a subversive film that critiques 1960s American society, international Cold War politics, and domestic racism. Elliot Stein of The Village Voice saw the film as an ardent critique of American involvement in Vietnam, arguing that it "was not set in Transylvania, but Pennsylvania - this was Middle America at war, and the zombie carnage seemed a grotesque echo of the conflict then raging in Vietnam". []

While George Romero denies he hired Duane Jones simply because he was black, reviewer Mark Deming notes that "the grim fate of Duane Jones, the sole heroic figure and only African-American, had added resonance with the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X fresh in the minds of most Americans." []

The deaths of Ben, Barbra and the supporting cast offered audiences an uncomfortable, nihilistic glimpse unusual for the genre.

The treatment of female characters attracted criticism from feminist scholars and critics. Women are portrayed as helpless and often excluded from the decision-making process by the male characters. []

Other prevalent themes included "disillusionment with government and patriarchal nuclear family" and "the flaws inherent in the media, local and federal government agencies, and the entire mechanism of civil defense." Film historian Linda Badley explains that the film was so horrifying because the monsters were not creatures from Outer Space or some exotic environment, "They're us"."