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Night of the Living Dead 40th Anniversary

On the last day of our week long celebration of Night of the Living Dead’s 40th anniversary, PopMatters offers six essays that delve on the subjective appreciation of Romero’s landmark film. In strong contrast to the previous installments of this collection, these articles offer a more personal perspective of the everlasting influence of Night of the Living Dead.

Film

Zombie as Change

Christian Caliandro
Recent
Film

Night of Night of the Living Dead

On a cool October night in 1970, I was witness to something so shocking, so outside my sphere of fear influence that it ended up being a never-ending journey into total terror.

Bill Gibron
Film

Reanimating the Dead at the Fringe of Hollywood

Amidst the deluge of shrieks, gasps, laughter and vomit, a certified independent horror movement was born. The rulebooks were burned and the inmates were running the show, opening the doors to a legion of filmmakers with a camera, some friends and zero budget.

Drew Fortune
Film

Life Amongst the Undead

Just as Johnny utters,“They’re coming to get you, Barbra” someone lurched through the door with a zombie shamble and a flashlight held under his face for a ghastly lighting effect.

Barry Keith Grant
Film

Day 5: The Undead as a Life-changing Experience

On the last day of our week long celebration of Night of the Living Dead’s 40th anniversary, PopMatters offers six essays that delve on the subjective appreciation of Romero’s landmark film. In strong contrast to the previous installments of this collection, these articles offer a more personal perspective of the everlasting influence of Night of the Living Dead.

Film

Night of the Living Dead 40th Anniversary

On our fourth day of celebrating the 40th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, PopMatters presents six articles that discuss the everlasting legacy of Romero’s zombie masterwork and help us understand why the film continues to be of relevance to modern audiences.

Film

I See Dead People

The real legacy of Night of the Living Dead is the way it became a quintessential icon that perfectly represents the patriarchal conflict for phallic control, as well as the confrontation between the primitive and the civilized.

Marco Lanzagorta
Film

1968 is Undead

To what do we owe ourselves? To what do we owe our future corpses? Will we go on living like we're already dead, like the past is inevitable, like we're doomed to repeat ourselves, doomed to recapitulate the terms of our decease?

Film

1968 is Undead

The radio and television broadcasts of Night of the Living Dead depict a government unable to protect, alert, and prepare its citizenry for a national crisis, which reminds us of the mass bureaucratic bungling of the September 11th tragedies and the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Timothy Gabriele
Film

Decade of the Dead

After a decade in which the dissemination of powerful images of human suffering—911, Abu Ghraib, Darfur, Iraq, New Orleans—have had little impact on changing the status quo, it’s hard to grudge Romero for his pessimism.

Michael Curtis Nelson
Film

We’re Coming to Get You, Barbra

The real monsters in Night of the Living Dead are the hobgoblins we face every day: jealousy, selfishness, anger, lies, rage, and simple misunderstandings.

Ian Chant
Film

Forty Years On and It Still Ain’t Worth Saving

Between the '60s and the present day, there seems to have been little meaningful social progress. Forty years on and Romero’s America is still a divided nation.

Linnie Blake
Film

Victim or Vigilante? The Case of the Two Barbras

It has been argued that feminists cannot embrace the first film because of all the female characters’ passivity and stereotyped deference to the men. And gun-toting Ripley has become something of a feminist icon, so why not embrace Tallman’s red-haired spunky version?

Cynthia Freeland
Film

Victim or Vigilante? The Case of the Two Barbras

We cannot say that the original Night of the Living Dead’s racial politics trump the gender politics of the remake, but rather, that the great power of tragedy can still grip us long after a movie’s more superficial aspects have been superseded.

Cynthia Freeland
Film

Day 4: A Zombie is Forever

On our fourth day of celebrating the 40th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, PopMatters presents six articles that discuss the everlasting legacy of Romero’s zombie masterwork. As such, these contributions help us understand why Night of the Living Dead continues to be of relevance to modern audiences.

Film

Night of the Living Dead 40th Anniversary

The race and patriarchal subtexts of Night of the Living Dead deeply resonated with the torrid social and cultural landscape of that bleak period in American history. On our third day celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, PopMatters offers six articles that discuss issues related to race conflict and phallic control.

Film

Zombie Nation

As a concept, the dead returning to destroy the living is worse than Germany invading Poland, worse than Islamic fundamentalists destroying a New York landmark, worse than a tsunami killing tens of thousands of people.

Matt Nida and Carl Swift
Film

Zombies on Wardour Street

Although British audiences were becoming familiar with an evolution in horror, Night of the Living Dead still presented a startling leap into the unknown.

Andrew Smith
Film

Why Can’t We Just Eat Brains and be Happy?

The zombie plague creates a new world from the ashes of the old one. Nevertheless, this “new” world is still plagued (if not more so) by the worst excesses and failings of human nature.

Chris Deis
Film

Why Can’t We Just Eat Brains and be Happy?

Ben must die for the world to return to normal and the racial hierarchy is re-established. This is Romero’s most incisive critique: that even in the face of unimaginable horror, humanity reverts to its status quo.

Chris Deis
Film

The Unhappy Undead

The Civil War is reenacted on a micro level in Night of the Living Dead. Your neighbors are the real monsters.

John Grassi
Film

Subverting the Subversion

The seemingly progressive casting of Night of the Living Dead actually reinforces the message from racist groups of the time: a well-spoken African American is the person responsible for the deaths of all of the white characters in the film.

Jeffrey Uhlmann
Film

The Trouble with Harry

In Night of the Living Dead, the most unpleasant character just happens to also be the most insightful.

Peter Hutchings
Film

Day 3: Reanimation Politics

The race and patriarchal subtexts of Night of the Living Dead deeply resonated with the torrid social and cultural landscape of that bleak period in American history. As such, no discussion of Night of the Living Dead can be complete without considering these important issues. On our third day celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, PopMatters offers six articles that discuss issues related to race conflict and phallic control.

Film

Night of the Living Dead 40th Anniversary

On our second day celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, PopMatters offers six articles that explore some of these theoretical frameworks. These essays attempt to give a rationale as to why, after 40 years, Night of the Living Dead continues to provide a frightful and nightmarish viewing experience.

Film

Zombie Walk This Way

Witnessing the Zombie Walk phenomenon in action is almost like watching the display of a worldwide death wish.

Dan Brian
Film

Resurrection Revisited

The idea of the resurrection promises a reunion with lost loved one, but in Night of the Living Dead, this reunion is a frustrated one.

Victor Calderin
Film

I’m Coming to Get You, Barbra

Zombies present a wholly different kind of terror, especially when that ghoul is your friend or brother or child.

Ian Mathers
Film

Blood, Guts, and Identity Fragmentation

The struggle for ascendancy in the most powerful nation in the world is perfectly embodied in Night of the Living Dead.

Rajith Savanadasa
Film

An Anthem for the Undead

The allure of the undead stems from the idea that a zombie apocalypse strips man to his barest self and essentially subverts thousands upon thousands of years' worth of moral discipline.

Spencer Tricker
Film

Satiety in Numbers

Night of the Living Dead counters the swarming crowds of the walking dead with a seemingly antithetical mode of social organization, namely the nuclear family taken to its destructive, quasi-incestuous extreme.

Jay McRoy
Film

Day 2: Understanding the Undead

Few would disagree that Night of the Living Dead is one of the most important and talked about films in the history of cinema. On our second day celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, PopMatters offers six articles that give a rationale as to why, after 40 years, Night of the Living Dead continues to provide a frightful and nightmarish viewing experience.

Film

Night of the Living Dead 40th Anniversary

Featuring an introduction by George Romero and insightful articles by top-notch horror scholars such as Mark Jancovich, Barry Keith Grant, Cynthia Freeland, Peter Hutchings, Jay McRoy, and Linnie Blake, PopMatters’ five-day celebration of Night of the Living Dead is an important contribution to the cultural examination of this classic horror flick. Today: Night of the Living Dead: The Beginning of the End.

Film

“Home” is Where the Zombies Are

The visual design of Night of the Living Dead forces us to toss rationality aside as the revolutions consume us. Throughout, the film’s cinematography pushes us into the zombies’ point of view, and potentially, their value system.

Chris Justice
Film

“Home” Is Where the Zombies Are

The farmhouse in Night of the Living Dead shatters the illusion of our most trusted institution: the American home is as dangerous as the evil outside its walls.

Chris Justice
Film

Camping Out at the Graveyard

When we relax and revel in the campy ghouls, our nerves are left fresh for the film’s terrifying bite; the last and sharpest of which comes at the searing downbeat ending.

Matthew Sorrento
Film

Cannibalizing Consumers

Just as corporations believed that “Man’s desires must overshadow his needs” to facilitate mass consumption, the zombies’ acts of consumption in Night of the Living Dead are driven by desire, not need. No matter how much human flesh the zombies consume, their state of decay never reverses, they don’t come back to life, and their drive to feed never abates.

Tim Mitchell
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