"Night of the Living Dead" is an American independent horror and cult film directed by George A. Romero and starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea and Karl Hardman. It premiered on October 1, 1968, and was completed on a US$114,000 budget. After decades of cinematic re-releases, the film ultimately became a financial success, grossing $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally. Night of the Living Dead was heavily criticized at its release owing to explicit content, but eventually garnered critical acclaim and has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as a film deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.
The story begins as siblings Barbra (Judith O'Dea) and Johnny (Russell Streiner) drive to rural Pennsylvania to visit their father's grave where they are violently attacked by a strange man (Bill Hinzman). Johnny tries to rescue his sister, but is killed after he falls and cracks his head on a gravestone. Barbra flees, with the killer in pursuit; eventually to an empty farmhouse where to her horror she discovers a half-eaten woman's corpse. Running out of the house, she notices several menacing figures akin to her pursuer; whereupon a man named Ben (Duane Jones) arrives in a car and takes her inside the house.
The ghouls swarm around the house, searching for living human flesh. Hiding in the cellar are married couple Harry (Karl Hardman) and Helen Cooper (Marilyn Eastman) and their daughter Karen (Kyra Schon), who sought refuge at the farmhouse after a group of attackers turned over their car; and teenage couple Tom (Keith Wayne) and Judy (Judith Ridley) who arrived after hearing an emergency broadcast about a series of brutal murders. Ben activates a radio while Barbra awakens from a stupor. Harry asks everyone to hide in the cellar; but Ben deems it a "deathtrap" and remains upstairs. Harry returns to the cellar to Helen and Karen, who has fallen seriously ill after being bitten on the arm by one of their attackers. Radio reports explain that a state of mass murder is sweeping across the East Coast of the United States. When Ben finds a television, the emergency broadcaster reports that the recently deceased have become living dead and are consuming the flesh of living people. Experts, scientists, and the United States military do not know the cause, though one scientist suspects radioactive contamination from a space probe returning from Venus that exploded in the Earth's atmosphere.
The Cooper family hiding in the cellar beneath the house. When news reports reveal local rescue centers offering refuge, Ben plans to reach the nearest of these and obtain medical care for Karen. Ben and Tom then go to refuel Ben's truck while Harry hurls Molotov cocktails from an upper window to keep the ghouls at bay. Fearing for Tom's safety, Judy follows him. At the pump, Tom accidentally spills fuel, setting the truck ablaze. Tom and Judy try to withdraw the truck to avoid further damage; but it explodes, killing them both. Ben returns to the house to find Harry retreating to the cellar door. Angered by Harry's cowardice, Ben attacks him, while the ghouls feed on Tom and Judy. In the house, a report on the television reveals that, aside from lighting dead bodies on fire, a gunshot or heavy blow to the head will stop any ghoul and that posses of armed men are patrolling the countryside to restore order.
Moments later, the ghouls attempt to break into the house. Harry grabs Ben's rifle and threatens to shoot him, but Ben takes back the gun and shoots Harry, who stumbles into the cellar to collapse next to Karen, who has died of the infection of her injury. The ghouls begin to pull Helen and Barbra through the windows; but Helen frees herself and goes down to the cellar to find a reanimated Karen consuming Harry, whereupon Karen kills her with a masonry trowel. Barbra, distracted by seeing Johnny as one of the ghoul among the ghouls, is carried away by the horde and eaten. The undead break into the house, and Karen attacks Ben; but he seals himself in the cellar and shoots Harry and Helen just as they reanimate. The next morning, Ben is killed by a member of the posse in mistake for a ghoul, and placed onto a burning pyre along with other dead bodies.
Directed by George A. Romero, produced by Karl Hardman and Russell Streiner, written by George A. Romero and John A. Russo, starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Bill Cardille and Kyra Schon.
Source: "Night of the Living Dead" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. 26 August 2012. Web. 27 August 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Night_Of_The_Living_Dead
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