Contender Home Entertainment
Release date: 26th September 2005
Director: George A Romero
Stars: Duane Jones, Judith Ridley.
To mark the return of the "King of the Zombies", this Contender Home Entertainment release of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on DVD coincides with the UK theatrical release of George A. Romero's long awaited fourth chapter in the "Dead" series, "Land Of The Dead", on 9th September 2005.
Back in 1968, writer-director George A. Romero redefined the horror movie genre with this seminal zombie film.
A brother and sister, visiting a graveyard, are attacked by a strange man who resembles Boris Karloff in his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster. The brother imitates Karloff’s voice and taunts his sister, but he is killed by the stranger. The girl escapes to seek refuge in an abandoned farmhouse, where we learn that the recently deceased have begun to rise from their graves, and are driven to feed upon the living.
Amid the ensuing chaos, more strangers find themselves stranded in the farmhouse in the quiet Pittsburgh countryside, under siege from the hordes of newly risen corpses with a taste for human flesh. Terrified by the zombie onslaught and haunted by paranoia, the small band of people soon become increasingly mistrustful of each other.
Pre-1968 zombies had slavishly toiled for occult/colonial masters; in a mill (WHITE ZOMBIE, 1932, d. Victor Halperin), or a Cornish tin mine (PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, 1966, d. John Gilling). Romero's film locates the zombies in the contemporary American setting of Pittsburgh, with alleged scientific reasons behind their reanimation, rather than the traditional voodoo. Like in Hammer's THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955, d. Val Guest), the causes derive from outer space, or so the US media would have us believe. Romero's zombies are clearly ordinary people, "our neighbours", as Romero once remarked in an interview, but en-masse they form a frightening, uncontrollable mob, that graphically tear at the flesh of their victims.
Compared by many to Alfred Hitchcock's THE BIRDS (1963), Romero's film ushered in a new wave of realism into American horror films. Although NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was shot in black and white, its use of contemporary settings, unknown actors and non-actors gave it a realistic feel. The use of TV news coverage and grainy photographic stills at the end of the film served to reinforce an atmosphere of unnerving verisimilitude. Similar techniques would be used by subsequent independent US horror films in the early 1970’s, and Romero’s film directly influenced CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (1972, d. Bob Clark) and THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE (1974, d. Jorge Grau), both available on DVD from Anchor Bay UK.
In his 1986 book, “The Living and the Undead”, Gregory A. Waller identified some of the film's disturbing issues;
"Romero has shown us the failure of tradition and religious faith; the incompetence of the federal government, civil defence authorities, and the news media; the inadequacy of communal action and romantic love; the self-consuming destructiveness of familial ties; and the vulnerability of the private home".
All of these issues are as relevant today as they were in 1968.
Over the years, many different versions of this landmark film have appeared on DVD in the UK but, to date, none have ever given it the treatment it deserves. If you own a cheap public domain DVD pass it on to a friend, if you own the colourised version – BURN IT!
Special Features include:
Feature length audio commentary by director George A. Romero
Feature length audio commentary by cast members
Duane Jones' final interview
Judith Ridley interview
Original US theatrical trailers and TV spots
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio
Selected scenes from George A. Romero's lost film THERE’S ALWAYS VANILLA
Of particular interest are the photo galleries of cast members’ scrapbooks which include letters related to the production of the film, and the menu graphics; which have more than a touch of 1930's Universal horror about them.
The DVD is restored and remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound,
and presented in a limited edition brushed steel box which, combined with
the above features, makes this release of Romero's classic film a very attractive