Night of the Living Dead Movie Poster Image

Night of the Living Dead

(i)

 

Oft-copied zombie classic is still intense and gory.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: May 24, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1968
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though the actors and filmmakers denied a sociopolitical agenda behind their horror show, there's a strong vibe here of organized civilization breaking down. The non-cooperation and selfish rivalries among the few survivors in the barricaded house causes more casualties. The positive portrayal of a strong, take-charge African-American lead was way ahead of its time -- too bad not many viewers noticed, amidst the chills.

Violence

The ghouls can only be stopped, infamously, by being shot in the brain or beaten severely around the head. Others are set on fire. There is biting, dismemberment, and cannibalism. Often it's more suggested than shown (the sequels and imitations didn't hold anything back), but the "Anniversary Edition" adds some serious gore. Some fistfights and gunshots among the living.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

No problem, surprisingly.

Consumerism

At least these flesh-eating zombies don't sell out.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this was once considered the ultimate in gruesome horror, with its ghastly premise of armies of undead "ghouls" devouring and infecting the living. One of the zombies is a little girl who ends up killing her parents. The movie is claustrophobic and intense, with one of the most famously pessimistic endings in movie history. Though later cannibal-zombie movies pushed gore-makeup effects to extremes, this one is relatively restrained -- except for the Anchor Bay "Anniversary" edition that adds more severe carnage that was filmed later and edited in (along with the character of a nasty priest).

What's the story?

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD begins when a young woman and her brother are attacked in a cemetery by a zombie, then moves to a group of strangers seeking shelter from the ghouls in a remote house. Barricaded inside, they see TV bulletins linking the zombie plague to "radiation" from a Venus space probe contaminating the environment, and they hear the only way to stop a ghoul is to destroy the brain, with a well-aimed bullet or cranial blows. The panicked survivors split into two factions, a family called the Coopers, who want to stay barricaded indoors and wait for help, and a more pro-active bunch, led by Ben (Duane Jones), an assertive black man, who plan a dash to safety, despite the ghouls massing relentlessly in the dark outside. A famously shocking finale indicates that neither of their plans works out.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

George A. Romero's cult classic brought a virtually unprecedented level of realistic gore and disturbing grotesquerie to creature-feature fans (many of them children). When it premiered in 1968, critics and commentators were outraged kids had been exposed to such a nightmare. Though it's unrated by the MPAA, some posters and ads carried an "X" rating (for gruesome violence, not sex), and that should tell you something. It's still intense today, and pushes a lot of buttons, with its well-rendered camera angles, effective jolts, claustrophobia, and the fate-worse-than-death zombie vibe.

Beware: The film is in the public domain, which means there are lots of fuzzy-looking, technically inferior copies on the market, computer-"colorized" versions, and spoof editions with completely dubbed-in gag dialogue (even with a bad-joke soundtrack, the imagery is still disturbing).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the mistake the survivors make in their defense strategy against the ghouls; their self-interest and egotism divides them (the zombies, on the other hand, have no such problems). You can also discuss with movie-buff kids why this was such a success on the horror market. Do you think it was because a premise this frightful had never been brought to the screen before? Or was it skillful filmmaking? What examples do you see in today's horror movies of filmmakers pushing the envelope? Do you believe (like some critics) that the movie is trying to make a social point? Or do you agree with the filmmakers, that it's just a scary movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 1, 1968
DVD release date:May 19, 2008
Cast:Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman
Director:George A. Romero
Studio:Continental Distributing
Genre:Horror
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byPlague January 7, 2010

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romeros best zombie film of all time. You cant beat the classics.
Kid, 12 years old October 29, 2011

I saw it when I was 10 and had nightmares for weeks

It's a perfectly good movie but it is very, very, very scary and quite gory. You won't regret giving it a miss
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byNapkap August 8, 2009

Genius Film

This film, about the breakout of a virus from space, is genius. The main characters are boarded up in a house, and they slowly turn against each other. It's done well, and the flesh eating monsters only help out the movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence

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