Night of the Living Dead (October 1, 1968)
Released October 1, 1968: Zombies threaten a group of people that hide out in a deserted farm house in this low-budget cult classic from Pittsburgh.
Produced by Karl Hardman and Russell Streiner
Directed by George A. Romero
Written by John A. Russo and George A. Romero
The Actors: Duane Jones (Ben), Judith O'Dea (Barbra), Karl Hardman (Harry Cooper), Marilyn Eastman (Helen Cooper), Keith Wayne (Tom), Judith Ridley (Judy), Kyra Schon (Karen Cooper), Charles Craig (Zombie Newscaster), S. William Hinzman (Cemetary Zombie), George Kosana (Sheriff McClelland), Frank Doak (Scientist), Bill 'Chilly Billy' Cardille (Field Reporter), A.C. McDonald (Zombie), Samuel R. Solito (Zombie), Mark Ricci (Washington Scientist), Lee Hartman (Zombie and news reporter), Jack Givens (Zombie), Rudy Ricci (Zombie), Paula Richards (Zombie), John Simpson (Zombie), Herbert Summer (Zombie), Richard Ricci (Zombie), William Burchinal (Zombie), Ross Harris (Zombie), Al Croft (Zombie), Jason Richards (Zombie), Dave James (Zombie), Sharon Carroll (Zombie), William Mogush (Zombie), Steve Hutsko (Zombie and tv cameraman Steve), Joann Michaels (Zombie), Phillip Smith (Zombie), Ella Mae Smith (Zombie), Randy Burr (Zombie and Posse member), Terry Gindele (Zombie), Robert Harvey (helicopter pilot), Dick Heckard (member of posse), Tony Pantanella (posse gunman), George A. Romero (Washington Military reporter), Josephine Streiner (Zombie), Russell Streiner (Johnny), Vincent D. Survinski (Vince, posse gunman), Jeannie Anderson (Zombie), Norma Beardsley (Zombie), David Craig (frontyard zombie), Betty Ellen Haughey (Zombie in black), John Kirch (Zombie), Roger McGovern (Zombie), Jack Rozzo (bathroom zombie and tv station safety director), John A. Russo (Washington military reporter), Regis Survinski (Washington reporter wearing sunglasses), Bob Wolcott (Zombie)
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The Movie that Shocked the World
Real Warning: The last scenes in this movie, and the ending, are not for the faint of heart. The ending broke every Hollywood movie rule. When this movie was filmed, the independent producers tried to get a major Hollywood studio to distribute the film to theaters around the world, but none of the major players would touch the movie because of the graphic gore and the never-seen-before story ending.
When the film was first shown in local theaters during Saturday afternoon matinees, which was the customary time for showing scary movies, audiences were often heard screaming and crying uncontrollably during the presentation. The first audiences had no idea that this movie would be very different from every spooky movie made up to that time, and were not prepared for the story ending that they saw.
In October 1968 when this movie was first shown, there was no rating system for movies as we know it today. All movie studios still made movies according to the rules set by the Hayes Office. Every movie was ‘family friendly’ according to the standards set in the 1930’s. The producers of this movie decided to make a real, scary movie that didn’t follow those rules. When the big studios demanded changes to soften the fright, the producers refused, and this movie became the first movie ever produced that brought realistic gore and fright to the big screen.
It was 1968, remember, and America was already in an era of revolt. Young boys just out of high school were being drafted into the military and sent halfway around the world to a jungle nation called Viet Nam to fight and die. We were told that if we didn’t defeat Russian Communism in Viet Nam, we would soon be fighting it here at home. For the first time in the history of war, television news cameras could bring full color images of war and death back home. The mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of the fighting boys could watch the war in living color.
Graphic violence was becoming a part of our daily experience whether we wanted it or not. There was no turning back. This movie was the introduction to a new generation of horror movies. Produced for a little more than a hundred thousand dollars, it would make tens of millions of dollars around the world from audiences eager to watch what no one had ever seen before. If you are brave enough to watch the birth of a new kind of motion picture horror, pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Judith O'Dea in the grave yard
Chilly Billy Cardille
Judith O'Dea and Karl Hardman
Keith Wayne and Karl Hardman
Marilyn Eastman and Judith Ridley
Vincent D. Survinski and George Kosana