I know. What can be said? Life interrupts again and again. :/ In this case, though, Facebook is also having trouble with groups for some reason. I wanted to create a group devoted to those who like zombies as much as I do, but that won't happen right away. I'm not claiming to be an 'authority', just a fan! Still, I can do something close by listing here the top seven modern zombie (aka Romero Zombie) films ever made and my thoughts on them. I'll be paying homage to Ruthless Reviews by using the template they commonly work with in movie reviews. I'm not being paid for this and I'm giving Ruthless Reviews the proper respect, so I'm not ripping them off. Don't dare claim otherwise!
My first of the ZOMBIE FILMS TO WATCH BEFORE YOU DIE! is as follows.... :)
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
TAGLINE: "They won't stay dead!"
ENTIRE STORY IN AS FEW WORDS AS POSSIBLE:
Flesh-hungry undead rise as the living have a problem just getting along.
SO THIS WAS THE FIRST ZOMBIE MOVIE?
Insofar as the first film to feature the undead as a nightmare threat out to consume anyone who still had a pulse, yep! There were movies with zombies before, but the old-fashioned hoodoo-incurred kind dating back to Bela Lugosi's "White Zombie" in 1932. So call it strictly speaking, the first modern zombie movie, with rules and hallmarks of the subgenre established accordingly from launch by the great George A. Romero. The undead in such films have also been called in tribute to their originator Romero Zombies.
IS IT GOOD OR BAD?
Sometimes gold can be mined from low-budget filmmaking, and "Night of the Living Dead" is golden. The entire theme of the story is how a group of very different people react to a nightmare situation, specifically getting stuck in a house surrounded by flesh-hungry undead...and its got a haunting realism to it all, in spite of the extraordinary circumstances. The film starts out in a graveyard where a brother and sister (the brother looks like Buddy Holly with driving gloves) go to visit their dearly departed dad. They're typical siblings, the brother is giving his sister shit, and she's telling him to grow up. Then a tall guy shows up with a strange shuffle-step to his walk...he's an odd duck with a vacant stare, and then he attacks! The brother fights Tall and Creepy, cracks his head on a tombstone, and dies. Maybe. We don't know for sure until the sister finds her courage to try to help her brother somehow...just kidding, she leaves her bro to lie on the ground as she runs off! This girl, Barbra, may very well be The Most Useless Horror Film Character Ever. All she does after she finds refuge in a seemingly empty house with a stranger named Ben (Duane Jones) is look catatonic when she doesn't launch into hysterics over every little friggin thing.
Ben, even though we don't get to know much about him, proves to be more practical and thoughtful than she is by far. We can tell his heroism and utility are tempered by his own nervousness about the situation, especially when he hears over a radio -- as he methodically tries to seal every window and door from the increasing numbers of undead outside -- that mass murder and cannibalism is happening everywhere, as if an epidemic is spreading. He scores bonus points finding a rifle and ammo, but then finds out there are more folks hiding in the cellar! Two of them are a mother and father worried for their daughter, who got bit by one of the undead and has gotten sick. All together now: UH-oh!
The characters eventually discover from the authorities on TV that the recently deceased have somehow come back to life to prey on the living. No one knows how, although one brainiac thinks radiation from a destroyed space probe had something to do with it. But no one knows for sure why this is happening, and the living holed up in the house have to fend for themselves until whenever help arrives. That's where things go from bad to worse, because in order to survive they have to work together, and that doesn't work out. When the World Trade Center was taken down on 9-11, all of New York City and the entire country came together to help one another through the tragedy. "Night of the Living Dead" argues that when disaster happens, humans may either be too dumb, selfish, or fearful to work together for their common good. There is real-life precendent for that viewpoint, unfortunately, which helps make this film stand any test of time.
OKAY, BUT WAS THERE PLENTY OF BLOOD AND GORE?
More than enough blood was spilled for Romero's landmark first "Dead" film, my friends, but you'll have to get past the fact it's in black and white. Also of note is that zombies in this movie look pretty much like everyone else! Outside of being messy eaters, they don't have decomp or anything to mar their appearances. Blame the low budget. However, being recently dead, it looked like some were being prepared for burial in one kind of formal dress and another, or got out a morgue in their skivvies or less; we see at least one butt-nekkid undead shuffling around! Since this is the first modern/Romero Zombie movie, it's the first time living folks had to learn one must shoot the undead in the head or at least take enough swings with a blunt weapon to their skulls to put them down for the count. Although a humble movie, it'll still catch the uninitiated off guard with some grisly moments. At one point, two of the living get to a pickup truck to escape, but it goes bad...so bad the pickup truck explodes and burns the couple to oblivion! But as bad as that was, the undead converge on the cooling wreck and start snacking on the medium-rare remains; the camera lingers on their eating the cooked flesh of a couple of characters who were alive not long before, which is pretty disturbing. But that's nowhere near as disturbing as when a little girl among the group dies from her infected bite, turns into a zombie, and kills her mother in a slow, brutal stabbing. The fact the zombie-girl used a weapon to kill her mother should be noted, as no zombie before or since ever showed that much intelligence. Afterward, the fact zombies were as stupid as they were hungry would become a benchmark to the sub-genre.
BOTTOM LINE, DID ANYBODY GET OUT ALIVE?
In this inaugural case, only the movie-goer is left to remember the tale.
THE MORAL OF THIS STORY:
Definitely stuff for those who see the glass as half-empty...the living will always have a problem relating to or even trusting one another, especially when things go to shit. If you see a loved one shuffling with a pack of zombies, don't give them a hug, RUN! Beware of gun-toting rednecks. And last but FAR from least: shoot em in the head!