It is Halloween night, in Akron, and whether you have gone out already for candy or popped in a scary movie, the night is still young. Of course, if you did go out, and didn’t take the chance to see Akron native Mike Bloomhuff’s cemetery display at Highbury Cemetery, you better hope that you will see it tomorrow! Luckily, you can still enjoy the holiday with a good, scary film. This Halloween, you might want to check out 1968’s Night of the Living Dead.
The film is a cult classic and innovated the horror genre. The film was directed by horror legend extraordinaire, George A. Romero, and was an independent film at the time of its release. The film stars Duane Jones, Judith O’Dey, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, and Kyra Schon. The film starts with Barbra (O’Dey) and her brother, Johnny (Russell Streiner) driving to rural Pennsylvania to visit their father’s grave. Once at the cemetery, Johnny teases Barbra about her fear of cemeteries, and jokes that a man walking their way is out to get them. When Johnny shoves Barbra into the man, he is actually out to get her, and Johnny struggles with him trying to save her. Barbra watches her brother struggle to the point where the man throws him on a gravestone, killing him. Barbra runs to the car, and the man tries to grab her. She flees the scene and falls down, losing her shoes. She runs until she comes across a farmhouse. While exploring the farmhouse, she sees a mangled corpse of a woman at the top of the stairs, and she runs out of the house, where she sees a person similar looking to that of the man she saw in the graveyard. She is rescued by Ben (Jones), who has arrived by truck and takes her into the farmhouse. Barbra faints and Ben starts boarding up the doors and windows. When Barbra wakes up, she and him discover they aren’t alone, as there are two couples downstairs in the cellar, and a child. Harry and Tom (Hardman and Wayne) come up and explain their situations, and Ben says they should all get upstairs as that is the safest place. Harry’s daughter, Karen, was bitten by one of the zombies and Harry and his wife, Helen (Eastman) are keeping a watchful eye on her. In the meantime, they find a television and plug it in saying that this is sweeping the country- the living dead. Will they survive? See it and find out.
Though the film was controversial in its day, what with content and the leading man being an actor of color, the film innovated the horror genre by putting in the scary with the commonplace. It is a perfect film to watch this Halloween.