This is a classic George A. Romero film. This was a film that really got to the core of the younger generation at the time. It was considered to be incredibly horrific and gory for the time.
The whole plot of the movie is so simple it’s genius, similar to Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” in that in this film the majority of the film takes place in one location, a farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere.
Seven people are holed up in this house as the whole area and neighboring towns are being taken over by flesh-eating zombies. The film takes place over approximately a twenty four hour period.
It presents the classic antagonistic situation of a bunch of strangers forced to work together to survive an incredible crisis. Naturally, in high stress situations, some people will excel and some will fall apart. It’s really a fascinating way to study human behavior and response to stress. It’s been in so many other movies…Cube, Lifeboat, Saw II, just to name a few right off the top of my head. It’s also the entire premise for reality shows such as Survivor or Big Brother. The idea that you put a bunch of strangers in a high stress situation and then continue to unleash hellish things on them causing their stress level to rise and inevitably causing some to break DOES make for interesting viewing at times. It’s all about the human psyche and how much an individual can take and what they do with that.
In this film there are a number of ways that the crisis affects people. One gal becomes almost catatonic for the majority of the movie, like she just can’t believe what’s happening. There’s a man who immediately snaps into survival mode and takes charge, boarding the windows and continuing to problem solve as the film goes on. And yet another man, who is middle-aged and stubborn and thinks that anger and hiding are the best defense against zombies. Now, we have one man being completely logical and another completely irrational. We have a woman barely functioning. We also have two teens (who aren’t very bright) and the wife and daughter of the angry genius. And the daughter has been injured by zombies.
So, everyone is in this house and one by one, or two or three, they try to defend themselves, outsmart or run away from these zombies.
Now, for the time period of when this movie was made, Romero really put together something special. He wanted to push the envelope just like Hitchcock tried to so often do. Nobody was expecting to see the content of this movie and interestingly, when it was released, it was marketed towards young people…early teens and younger. The film shows depictions of the zombies actually feasting on what we are to believe is human flesh. That is by far the best scene of the whole movie. The second best would be the end. Both scenes are wonderfully chilling in every way that a horror fan loves.
I have to say, any horror film fan MUST see this movie. Not seeing this film would be like not having ever seen Psycho. It’s not only a classic but, it was somewhat revolutionary. It’s a required addition to anyone’s horror collection.