As a disciple of Romero, I’ve spent more time analyzing NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD than any other horror film. People debate about which is his best zombie film, which one is most important. For me, it will always be NOTLD. It’s more compact and straightforward than DAWN OF THE DEAD, and less leaden than DAY OF THE DEAD, both fine movies in their own right, but not as effective.
What no one can argue is that NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is George Romero’s first film, the one that started him off on a career that would establish him as one of horror’s finest directors. The film also jump started the careers of several others, including John Russo, Russell Streiner and Bill Hinzman, all three of whom have taken their shots at the wheel in giving their own voice to its history. I’ve written about these efforts as well as NOTLD itself.
I’ve also taken a look at some outsiders’ takes on the film, including the animated version, a short in which bread replaces zombies, and another short with an all-bunny cast. These go to show just how far-reaching the film’s effect on society is.
And I’ve discussed toy lines based on the film’s characters. My nephew is seven, and he loves my Ben and Cemetery Ghoul dolls. I hope that when he’s a little older, he and I can enjoy the film together.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD has affected the filmmaking industry for more than 40 years now, and a lot of what Romero and company did in Pittsburgh, PA changed the way Hollywood does things today. There are a few horror films I enjoy better, but it’s had a greater impact on me than any other film. I’m honored that I’ve been able to put the film in some perspective with my appreciative look at so many of its aspects.