Skip to main content

Night of the Living Dead-in Color [One]


You know, I was remembering back to when I was a teenager, watching Night of the Living Dead for the first time. It's funny, in retrospect, because the very first version I watched was that Hal Roach colorized version from '86. It was a recording on a VHS tape I borrowed from my uncle. I'm not sure where he recorded it from. I am not certain where that recording is today, to tell you the truth. If you pass by the blog, you are undoubtedly going to read about my uncle due to his influence in my life as a genre fan in general. Horror and sci-fi, technology, fascination in special/make-up effects all are indebted to his influence on me when I was a kid. This recording was really, really rough, but I think watching this version is attributable to my embracing of certain films public domained and worse for wear. We do live in a time where films are lushly presented in digital transfers and wide-screened to an eye-popping extent. Seeing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (as I did) in a poor transfer on VHS added to the experience. Include color to the rough look of this film and warm memories return indeed.















-----
We had a good severe thunderstorm this evening [*]where I live in Mississippi, the mood was right, and I have been wanting to watch a colorized version of Night of the Living Dead, if just for the hell of it. There was no real goal in mind since in October, 2012, I wrote what I consider my official blog review for the film. There wasn't a particular endgame in mind with this review. I wanted to have fun. When a blog review place becomes laborious and a chore, I have to step back and take a powder. There were no obligations with this review, or whatever it is. Sometimes I write just to write. I have a job and family that are important to me, but writing about horror, sci-fi, action, and the like provides a joy that is beneficial to that side of me that seeks creative indulgence.
-----

[*]Saturday, March 24, 2013





-----
I love details, the small things that seem minute and minuscule to grand scheme of things. Like Barbra and Johnny bickering early on about traveling so far to plant a simple cross into their father’s grave at the behest of their mother (who didn’t tag along, but still thought it necessary to honor her husband’s memory, bugging her kids to keep up the annual tradition of complementing the dead) in some rural, off-the-beaten path Pennsylvania cemetery. Every year on Mother’s Day, my mother and I have the same sort of tradition, honoring her mother/my grandmother, and, sure enough, the cemetery is located in an isolated location surrounded by nothing but trees and land, in the middle of nowhere. Granted, we don’t bemoan such an activity, and it is voluntary not at the urging of another, but still this came to my attention as I watched the scene play out early on. This is chatty Barbra, full of conversation and, as typical with brother-son relations, at odds with her much-different sibling, Johnny, who considers praying at the grave a needless waste of time. The whole annual event to Pete is a waste of 6 hours of driving to and fro from where they live to this grave, just because their nagging mom demands such respect to his memory. Don’t get used to this Barbra because once her whole civilized world comes crashing down once her brother is stricken by a wandering zombie and “the invasion” begins.
-----















-----
I have probably mentioned this before, but I always thought it was interesting how Barbra seems to be the lead focus of the entire film. It starts with her, and the film follows her specifically as she flees to the farmhouse, trying to call for help, the phone line down thanks to the outside zombie after her. With the crisis at hand rendering her mute and lost in her hysteria, Barbra is soon in the background as Ben becomes the lead. Soon Barbra is rambling on nonsensically, when not saying anything at all, while other characters emerge to send her further into the background. Storytelling-wise, it was an intriguing development to start with her and then as the film continues, Barbra becomes not only useless but almost a nuisance in her inability to help the others come up with ways to protect themselves and, ultimately, escape their predicament to better safety (wherever that may be).
-----











 -----
I was musing to myself about how such a nondescript zombie as the bald, rotted zombie of Dawn of the Dead could become the sort of “poster child zombie” now so iconic and recognizable with the film itself. If that is the case (a zombie that actually appears rather early in the film and put down in rather short order), then Bill Hinzman, you’d think, would be the poster child zombie for Night of the Living Dead. He sets the tone, when he appears, completely menacing and ruthless, right at the throat of Barbra at the get-go, then overcharging/overpowering Johnny, that horror of a certain unique kind lies in wait.

Hinzman’s zombie is quite different from the standard zombie you might see nowadays (or even in Night of the Living Dead later after he blends into the horde surrounding the farmhouse). He uses a rock to smash open a window when his hands simply weren’t enough. He moves relatively quickly despite the stiff limp caused by a body that is no longer living. Hinzman incorporates the zombie with no humanity, just compulsive forward motion to secure the “nutrition” so desired by what plagues him as a member of the undead.
----- 












With Blood Feast setting the stage for real on screen make-up grue, Night of the Living Dead took advantage. With Ben using a hammer to bludgeon the undead, it catapults the film into a brand new medium of horror. The late 60s was preparing us for a brand new type of horror film to come.



I remember how Ben comes on the scene and just takes control of the situation. He seems to be only one of two characters, up against a seemingly insurmountable epidemic steadily growing in number, arriving right at their doorstep. The whole situation he seems to be taking control of: he winds up losing the moment Mr. Cooper from the cellar (we (my brother, sister, and I…) always called him that when watching or talking about the movie) shows up.





Comments