Night of The Living Dead This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     There is no such thing as a sure thing. Take, for example, "Ishtar." This film seemed perfect, combining two of the greatest actors of all time with a $40 million budget, exotic location and classic screwball comedy. Yet the movie is, barring an opening weekend gross of $14 million, a colossal failure.

Completely the opposite is 1968's horror classic "Night of The Living Dead." Directed by George A. Romero, it stars Judith O'Dea and Duane Jones. It cost only $114,000 to make, which forced the director to use low-budget techniques that give the cinematography a gritty, news-like feel.

There were no sets, only location shooting that allows the audience to feel that the plague of the undead could occur anywhere. They used black and white film, like the classic "Psycho," which makes it easy for the audience to imagine that the blood (chocolate syrup) and organs (various kinds of meat) were real. Without color it made the scenes even more grotesque with a very realistic feeling.

The movie has grossed more than "Ishtar," but its financial success has little to do with its quality. Take, for example, "Armageddon" which has grossed well over $300 million, even though it is boring and a routine disaster film similar to "Towering Inferno."

The plot of "N.O.T.L.D." is simple and repulsive: The dead come back to life and are hungry. Barbara learns the hard way: while visiting a cemetery, her brother is killed by a zombie. She runs from the ghoul, as the film calls the undead, and finds sanctuary in a secluded farmhouse where she meets Ben. He quickly learns that some people in the house don't like black people, creating several power struggles. These people feel they know what is best for the party.

Romero is notorious for hiding a number of themes in his violent films. In "N.O.T.L.D." (and its somewhat superior sequel, "Dawn of the Dead") one is: if you want everything, you will get nothing. This idea is usually overlooked due to the other major theme of racism.

One of the reasons "Night of the Living Dead" is so terrifying is that it implies the terror could happen anywhere, even a the house where people hide for shelter. What makes it more terrifying is that the ghouls are shown in brutal detail including torn-off faces, tire irons in the head, and cannibalism.

Because of the constant dread of a zombie attack, the themes of taking risks and racism, and excellent direction, I give this film four out of four stars.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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