Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Top 20 Horror Movies - #18) Night of the Living Dead (1968)

One of the things that I'm doing this month as I celebrate Halloween here in the Land of Way is taking the time to rank my Top 20 Horror Movies and my Top 20 Horror Novels.

I want to be clear that I'm basing these choices on my own humble opinion.  I'm not trying to rank these movies in accordance with their place in pop culture, but I'm offering up my take on the best horror films that I have ever watched and enjoyed.  There are some familiar candidates that I consider to be great pictures that didn't make the cut because there wasn't room, and there are some films that are widely regarded as great pictures that didn't make the cut because I feel that they are overrated.  There are also a few instances where it was difficult to determine whether or not a movie belonged to the horror genre (I said "no" to Aliens but "yes" to Jaws), and it may also be worth noting that this is largely a modern list (as long as you're okay with my classification of modern as anything after 1960) that only features one lonely creature from the so-called "Classic Monsters" films produced by Universal Studios.

Thus far, the list includes:

#20) The Fly (1986) 
#19) The Howling (1981)

Now it's time to talk about my next selection, the zombie film that started it all.  Seriously, I'm not in the mood for any of that White Zombie shit.  I love me some Bela Lugosi, but George Romero gave us the zombie sub-genre as we know it today.

Top 20 Horror Movies - #18) Night of the Living Dead (1968)

This is one of two zombie movies from the legendary George Romero to make my list, and while Night of the Living Dead may not be his masterpiece, it remains eerie and effective all these years after its initial release.  Yes, we had seen zombies on the screen before, but never quite like this.  The shock and dismay that this bleak low-budget affair inspired gave birth to a sub-genre that has never been more popular that it is now, some 47 years after Night of the Living Dead hit the scene.  It remains potent because it was so raw, so stark, and because the man at the helm proved to be a genius.  The horror of the undead laying siege to a remote farmhouse where a few scrappy survivors have holed up also proved to be a terrific premise for exploring serious themes.  The very presence of Duane Jones in the lead role, not to mention his serious performance and the ultimate fate of his character--all of these things speak volumes about the period when the movie was made.  In fact, many of these notions still hold a great deal of relevance in this day and age.  Besides, despite the weight of these themes, the movie never suffers.  It is entirely possible that many viewers are oblivious to the commentary, for the picture quickly descends into a grim nightmare and it never fails to function as a gruesome chiller.   I'm a big fan of the zombie sub-genre (there are three* such pictures on my list, including this black and white gem, the best zombie film of them all, and Romero's epic improvement upon the formula he created) and this tense and relentless horror film is where the zombie as we know it was born.  Beyond that, it's a fantastic flick that surely warrants a spot on my list.

*Just so we're clear, deadites are NOT zombies.  

Board up the windows!  George Romero gave the zombie sub-genre life way back in 1968.

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