Night of the Living Dead
I love Night of the Living Dead. This classic movie in my opinion is what kicked off the whole zombie genre. Yes, I am saying that I consider zombies to be its own genre. At very least a sub-genre.
I remember back many moons ago when I first saw Night of the Living Dead. Actually, my first exposure to zombies was Dawn of the Dead (70’s version). But, as far as Night of the Living Dead goes, that was scarier for me. I felt the Dawn of the Dead had more blood and guts and relied on shock value while Night of the Living Dead was suspense and just plain scary.
Right from the start, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara”. Wow, what a creepy way to begin a horror movie. Right from the start, you know you are in for a thrill ride as a viewer. The creepy brother teasing his poor, vulnerable sister. And then BLAMO!, the cheesy zombie in the black suit comes stumbling along and kills the brother. He totally deserved it 😉
Now, I am writing this blog post a week later, and I am glad that I did. I did not connect the dots that there were two Blog posts due the same week. I will pay better attention in the future. Anyway, I am glad I was late on this assignment, and here’s why.
This past week we learned about setting and how setting can make or break a story. And that setting is almost a character itself. I now look at setting in a new light. The setting was always something that I took for granted.
So, how does this apply to Night of the Living Dead? Well, first, the setting in the opening scene is set in a graveyard. How spooky is that!
Even more to the point is the house where the characters see refuge. It is a small and constricting space surrounded by zombies. And based on what I learned in this week’s Horror Workshop reading, a constricting space creates tension and a feeling of fear and helplessness.
Let’s go one step further. The characters board up the house (more constricted). Then the characters end up in the basement (super constricted). Talk about creating a setting that continues to constrict and tighten. This causes the viewers to feel more and more claustrophobic and vulnerable.
One last thing that I learned while researching this assignment. Night of the Living Dead is public domain because the original theatrical distribution company (Walter Reade Organization) failed to place a copyright on the movie. Wow, what a screw up!
I will always see Night of the Living Dead as a classic and one of my favorites.