Night of the Living Dead (1968)

One of the most influential films of all time, George A. Romero’s masterpiece Night of the Living Dead has been lovingly restored by The Criterion Collection for this new Blu-ray release.  For those you have lived under a rock for the last 50 years please read on.

“They’re coming to get you, Barbra”.

Brother and Sister Johnny and Barbra are visiting their Father’s grave and whilst there they are tending to it are attacked by a strange shuffling man.  She flees the scene after her sibling meets his maker and heads into the countryside.  Barbra finds what seems is a deserted farmhouse but is shocked to discover a rotting corpse, running away she is met by more of the shuffling weirdos but is saved by a lone man named Ben who secures the house.

Masterfully directed by a debuting George Romero, the film went on become a real bona fide classic and spawned five sequels (all directed by Romero).  The film also was unusual as the main male character and hero was black.  You must remember that when the film was made and released in America the civil rights movement was in full force.  For a white film maker to have a black hero was certainly risky and Duane Jones as Ben was outstanding.

The copyright problems NOTLD have had are well known and the full story of this can easily be found online and in various books.  Criterion have really pushed the boat out for this release with a superb 4K transfer of the film supervised by the film makers along with an uncompressed mono soundtrack.  Also included is a work print version of the film entitled ‘Night of the Anubis’ whilst in a bit of a rough state, it’s terrific to have it in the package.  There’s loads of other stuff as well and you should have a ball going through the extensive extras.  Thankfully the dreadful extended version with new footage (and music) shot decades later isn’t included but I would have liked the colourised version just for a laugh.

If you love NOTLD and already own it, you may wonder is it worth buying it again and the answer is a big YES as I don’t think the film will ever look better.  An essential piece of cinema history of any genre.

  • Starring Judith O’ Dea  Duane Jones  Bill Hinzman  Judith Ridley
  • Director George A. Romero
  • Distributor The Criterion Collection