There is no other single film that has ever impacted the horror world the way that Night of the Living Dead has. No other film. I wont even hear the argument. It isn’t my favorite film, and it isn’t even my favorite Romero film... but still... this movie changed everything. Horror, sci-fi, and pop-culture at large... everything was different once this film broke out. Different and better.
With that in mind, it makes sense that there are countless (and I mean countless) rip-offs, knock-offs, remakes, sequels, unofficial sequels, documentaries, and TV specials about/based on/stolen from this film. It has even gotten to the point that when I see '____ of the Dead' or '_____ of the Living Dead' I am just ready to ignore whatever film is about to follow. The movie was so effective that it became a trope. It became a cliché. And in a way, that is the greatest honor art can achieve. To become such a piece of the patchwork of the world's culture that no one even notices it. Art strives to become sublime. Sublime and almost ignored in it's normalcy.
I have seen a few specials or documentaries about the movie, and by now there isn’t much left for me to know about the movie. There isn’t much left for a documentary to do. Or at least I thought.
This is a brilliant documentary. Brilliant. It is relevant to today, and yet timeless in it's allegiances. It is steeped with cultural and world information from the time of the film. It is well composed, both structurally and visually, it is clean and professional, and there are interesting and insightful interviews with important and key players. This is actually, out of all that I have seen, the most comprehensive and all around best documentary on the film I have ever seen.
It would have been easy to make the movie a little splashier, just talk about the ensuing arguments, the loss of copyright, the split of the two creative minds, the sequels, the 'side-quels', the Italian knock-offs, or even the technical aspects of the movie. All of that is looked at from a good enough distance that the story, the pulsing blood-filled warm neck of the movie's true cultural importance is bitten into.
This documentary doesn’t really set out to change anyone's mind. It isn’t trying to convince you that Night of the Living Dead is the greatest film ever... it just lets you know WHY the film happened, and a little bit about HOW.
This is a must-see documentary for all the horror fans out there. This isn’t a bloated opinionated self-congratulating bucket of tripe that a major studio pushed out to convince you that a property of theirs is worth something more. This is just a labor of love. A labor of love by people who care and want you to understand why.
This is what a horror documentary should be.
This is art.
BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD Opens November 6 in New York at IFC Center.
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