Birth of the Living Dead (2013) Movie Script

Welcome to a night
of total terror.
In 1967, a 27 year old
college drop out from the Bronx
named George A. Romero directed
a low budget horror film.
Night of the Living Dead!
The film introduced the world
to a new kind of monster...
Persons who have recently died
have been returning to life
and committing acts of murder.
...the flesh eating zombie.
This spawned an entire genre
of TV shows and movies, novels,
comic books, video games
and zombie conventions,
thriving industries
to this day.
But at the time "Night of
the Living Dead" was made,
I don't think
audiences were ready
for "Night of the Living Dead."
It spoke to its audience
in ways few horror films
had ever done before.
And I think that's why
they were drawn to it.
The first time you
saw it you realized
it was making a place for itself
in a time capsule of some sort.
No movie had that kind
of impact at that time.
It was this tiny
little movie in Pittsburgh
that seemed to have no chance.
And it, you know,
changed the world.
It was no big thing, man.
Who knew that we were ever even
going to finish this movie.
It was just like a bunch
of people getting together
and we were going
to try to make a movie.
And none of us knew that it
was ever going to get finished.
Let alone become something
as well-known as it is.
George Romero started his first
film production company
in the city of Pittsburgh
in 1963.
He called it, the Latent Image.
It's a beautiful day
in this neighborhood
A beautiful day
for a neighbor
Would you be mine
Could you be mine
We all weaned into the business
on Fred Rogers,
"Mr. Rogers Neighborhood."
Almost everybody in Pittsburgh
who works in the biz now
worked for Fred for a while.
I have always wanted to have
a neighbor just like you
Romero and his partners
make several short films
for the children's
television series,
"Things that Feel Soft"
and "Mr. Rogers
Gets a Tonsillectomy."
Up in the ceiling were
some lights I could see.
And the kind eyes
of the people
in the operating room.
Even though they wore masks,
I could see their kind eyes.
Which remains one of the
scariest movies I've ever done.
The Latent Image also finds
opportunity in a new industry.
At the time, you know,
commercials were live.
The beer commercials used
to be the sportscaster.
Even when you were
able to drink.
You were actually able to drink
beer on camera in a commercial.
These guys, by the time,
if you went into extra innings,
it was like...
And all of a sudden,
we come along and say,
"You know, you can do
this shit on film, man."
When you hit a dry spell,
what's the natural way
to wet it down?
Hey honey! How about a beer?
With a tall, cold Duke.
Duquesne beer at the time,
which is no longer.
Great times, great beer,
they go together.
And there's no better beer
for great times than Iron City.
Iron's still there.
Iron! Gimme an Iron!
And how about that
Iron City flavor?
Rich. Robust.
I could shoot, I could record,
I was an editor.
You know, I wound
up doing it all.
So it was all learn by doing.
I shot more film
at the Latent Image
than I've shot over the course
of all the feature films
that I've made.
I mean, because we were
shooting all the time.
In those days, it was all film.
So, you had to wait for it
to come back from the lab.
There were local labs.
They were not that reliable.
You'd put your heart
into shooting this stuff
and the guy would
call up and say,
"You know what,
we fucked it up."
But once the film came back,
as long as it looked okay man,
as soon as the film
walked in the door
I'd sit there
until it was edited.
I'd sit there sometimes
36, 48 hours, get it done.
You know I basically
lived there.
And I just lived, breathed
and drank the stuff.
No thought
for family or whatever;
I just was, making movies, man.
Preview films presents,
"The Calgon Story."
We did this thing called,
"The Calgon Story."
It was a knock off
of, "Fantastic Voyage."
Add the Calgon!
And it was the biggest
commercial that we've ever done.
It's working!
The grey is gone!
The fibers are clean!
Let's get out of here.
I think I'm in love with you.
And they wanted 35
so we sacrificed our profit
and went out
and bought a 35mm camera.
We started to think
that we could actually
make movies, you know.
When we finally
had the equipment
and we thought we could
make a movie, I wanted,
I had this really high minded
idea to this Bergmanesque
sort of "Virgin Spring"
kind of a movie.
And so I wrote this thing
about two teenagers
in the middle ages.
I mean, boy, talk about reaching
for the moon, right?
Romero's search
for investors for his first
feature-length screenplay,
"Whine of the Fawn,"
ultimately failed.
Eventually we abandoned
it and decided to do,
maybe we should do something
a little more commercial.
And, so we decided
to do a horror flick.
And I had read a novel
called, "I am Legend."
A Richard Matheson novel.
And it seemed to me that it
was about revolution underneath.
But we were also
very aware of the time,
you know, and the sort
of anger of the 60s.
The year was 1967.
The U.S. was fighting
an increasingly unpopular war
in Vietnam.
At home in the U.S.,
despite historic strides made
during the civil rights era,
rampant racism still ruled.
After suffering continued
unchecked discrimination,
African Americans
took to the streets.
Some called it rioting.
Others called it revolution.
We stand on the eve
of a black revolution, brothers.
Masses of our people
are in the streets.
They're fighting tit for tat,
two for two,
an eye for an eye
and a life for a life.
The summer of '67 was the summer
of riots in Newark and Detroit.
And the idea of
the "American Ghetto"
really started to take hold
in the public consciousness
as a kind of symptom
of the Civil Rights movement
whereas in the 50s
and early 60s
it would have been
lunch counters
and marches in southern
cities and busses.
Now, it was about anger.
There was a good deal
of sort of anger.
You know, I think mostly
that the 60s didn't work.
You know, we thought
we had changed the world
or were part of some
sort of a reform
that was going to make
things better.
And all of a sudden
it wasn't any better.
It wasn't any different.
Let's get off the street!
Get the lead out of your ass!
So I think there was a bit of
rage, a bit of disappointment.
So I invented these characters.
In my mind
they were just ghouls.
The dead are
coming back to life.
That's the revolution.
That's the big thing
that everybody's missing.
And we just wanted to make
as ballsy a horror film
as we could make.
Romero and nine
other investors --
including several partners
from the Latent Image --
form a new company
called, "Image 10."
They rent an abandoned farmhouse
for the film's primary location.
Initially, ten of us
kicked in 600 bucks,
it was enough
to rent the farmhouse,
buy some film stock,
and we started to shoot.
We started to shoot not knowing
if we were ever
going to finish.
Romero is 27 years old.
We lived on that farmhouse.
And we had to go out
to the little stream
in order to wash off.
So it was real
guerilla stuff, you know.
Talk about dedication.
And everybody went
along with this!
You know, somehow I'd
say, "Okay, guys."
It's going to be rough, but,
you know, we'll make a movie."
And everybody'd say,
"All right."
Did that surprise you?
It did! It did!
I'd expect people to say,
"What are you, crazy?"
George Romero's jobs
include cinematographer,
editor, and director.
I didn't know very much then.
What's a director
s'posed to do?
I dunno!
Walk over here!
I think the first time
you try to do anything,
especially when you're trying
to do something new, um,
you're learning on the job.
And essentially everything
that can go wrong will go wrong.
Whether it's issues
with cameras or cast members
who really don't have
a lot of experience.
Crew members who don't quite
know what they're doing.
I tried to build a clay hand
and I tried to leave it hollow
and fill it with blood.
It looks like shit!
I mean, it's, it's not great.
There were very few independents
being done at that point.
And here's a guy
from Pittsburgh, PA,
who gets an idea for a film,
manages to raise
a small amount of money
and just had
the courage, the passion,
the persistence to get it done.
It's really remarkable a film
that has become such a classic
came out of an environment
where everyone was
learning on the job.
Many in the cast and crew
take on multiple jobs
to make up for
the lack in budget.
Russ Streiner's duties
include producer and actor.
John Russo's include
co-screenwriter and zombie.
Initially I had written
it as a short story.
And then I started to adapt
it into a screenplay.
And then we actually started
to have to start to shoot,
so Jack Russo took over
finishing the screenplay
and we collaborated
on it after that point.
Karl Hardman is producer,
make-up artist and actor.
Marilyn Eastman is
make-up artist and actor.
Karl and Marilyn started
this audio production company.
And so they provided all
the audio recording equipment
when we made
"Night of the Living Dead."
They did the zombie make ups
and were incredibly energetic
and just would do any job
that needed to be done.
It was a new impetus
for people to uh,
honestly, to fuck
the system, you know?
It's like we can
do this ourselves.
We don't have
to go to Hollywood
with our little script
about zombies
that everybody would
never have supported.
It's too freaky, uh,
they're too busy making
Charlton Heston epics,
you know,
and uh "Mary Poppins."
Friends, friends of friends
and colleagues
comprise the rest of the crew.
"Night of the Living Dead" was
very much a collaborative work.
There was a sense
of improvisation on the set,
which I think helps the movie.
Crews, you know,
it's where it's at, man.
I mean, you're reliant
on all these people.
And it's the only way
it happens, ever.
You don't make the movie,
you don't make the movie,
you can't go out
and make a movie!
You know, you can't make
this movie without this guy!
And look, he's doing it all!
Look, isn't it,
that's what it is, man!
Alright, Vince,
hit him in the head,
right between the eyes.
For many, like investor,
production director
and actor Vince Survinski,
this is their first experience
with filmmaking.
Vince Survinski owned
a roller rink in Pittsburgh
and said, "Ah, I always
wanted to get into movies."
Vince was always
a go-to guy.
He would get things done.
We'd all be sitting
around puzzling,
"Oh, this is a great farm house,
but you have to wade
across a stream
to get over there."
So Vince'd say, "Ah, I'll
build a little bridge."
And Goddammit,
with his own hands
he built this
little wooden bridge
that you could actually
drive a car over.
Oh, the demolition crew!
Vince's brother, Reg, and he had
a partner named Tony Pantonello.
They used to do fireworks.
They were not the Zambelli's
but, you know,
if you needed some fireworks
down at your church
you called these guys.
They did all
the pyrotechnical stuff
and they were hilarious guys,
I mean, you know.
Tony would have this cigar
constantly burning in his mouth
and he's working
putting a fuse together
and he couldn't see very well,
so he's like this
and this cigar and I'm like,
"Tony, you're gonna
blow your fingers off!"
They did all the squibs.
Squibwork and the explosives,
and all that.
Actor, lighting person,
and investor Bill Hinzman
and John Russo both volunteer
to be set on fire.
Given no protective clothing
they simply agree
to roll on the grass
if they get hot.
I think maybe that
was Reg's suggestion.
"It starts to feel hot,
just lie down."
"Want anything from
the supply wagon, Kuss?"
No, we're alright.
Hey, Kass, put that thing
all the way into the fire,
we don't want it
getting up again!
Chief, Chief McClelland,
how's everything going?
Aw, things aren't going too bad,
men are taking it pretty good.
You want to get on the other
side of the road over there!
Bill Cardille who was
a TV personality,
he came out to be the news guy.
And he had to interview
Kuss as the Sheriff.
So, all those lines,
the greatest lines in the movie
were all ad libbed by Kuss.
Are they slow moving, Chief?
Yeah, they're dead,
they're all messed up.
All that shit was
completely off the cuff.
This is Bill Cardille,
WIIC, TV 11 news.
Bill Cardille, almost every
Saturday night he would plug us
and say there are these
guys in Pittsburgh
that are actually
making a horror movie.
And I'm going to go out
and I'm going to appear in it.
So we got a little
bit of a profile.
And, because of that profile
I think people believed
that we were going to,
probably more than us,
that we were actually
going to finish this movie.
Yeah, Chief, we're going
to stay with it
until we meet up
with the National Guard.
- Where'd you get the coffee?
- One of the volunteers.
You're doing all the work,
why don't you take it.
Bill Cardille came out
and brought the camera guy
from Channel 11
and he brought his gear.
The helicopter pilot
for local radio station KQV
lets Russ Streiner ride
with him to get aerial shots.
We called the Police,
we got real police
to come out and cooperate.
I mean, all we had to do
was call up and say, "Guys!"
And, you know and they
brought the vans out
and the dogs
and everything else!
You know, it was amazing
all the cooperation
that we used to get.
I mean, it was incredible.
Everybody was sort of with us
because we were trying
to actually make a movie.
The dozens of zombies
are played by friends,
family, local townfolk
and clients of Romero's
commercial production company,
the Latent Image.
Most of the zombies were people
we used to work with.
People that, that
were giving us jobs.
Advertising people,
a couple of news guys.
A lot of the zombies
were clients of ours
from ad agencies.
Humoring us,
saying, "Sure, okay.
I'll come out."
A woman came out and was willing
to appear nude from behind.
I don't know if there's any
such thing as a bad zombie.
I mean, I love them all.
But, you know, you get
people who come out.
I mean, if I do anything,
if I make a gesture,
if I'm talking
to twenty zombies
and they're all looking at me
saying, "Well, what do I do?"
"Well, you walk
over here."
And if I go like that,
everybody does that.
So, pretty much just say,
"Do whatever you want.
Do your best zombie, man."
And you get some
incredibly creative things.
One of the investors
Ross Harris was a meat packer.
So he brought
all these entrails,
so it was pretty rough.
That was all real stuff,
real intestines,
real livers, cow livers.
We wanted to push the envelope,
let's see what
we can do with this.
Just bring out buckets of stuff
and... I'm telling you, boy,
people that come to be zombies
they're really dedicated.
They'll dig into that
stuff and chew on it
and I'm going, "Oy!"
You'll never get me to do that!
That's guts!
It's guts!
When I was gonna show it,
I'm thinking to myself
they're probably just gonna say,
"That sucked Mr. Chris."
Or whatever it may be.
And sure enough, it was the--
it was the complete opposite.
It's amazing the impact
that this movie made,
that this guy made--
you know, with no budget.
How it still was important
and how it still resonates
with everyone who watches it.
When they were dead, they, um,
they were acting
like with no muscles,
they had like, to stay.
What's the name of that?
What's the name of that?
Starts with "R."
- Riga...
- Who said it?
The whole curriculum I have with
the kids is where they learn
literacy through the process
of making movies.
Rigor mortis.
Say it again.
Rigor mortis.
Say it again.
Rigor mortis.
And what happens with that?
Christopher Cruz teaches his
literacy through film program
in the Bronx, New York.
George Romero
grew up in the Bronx
before moving to Pittsburgh.
And it was the old days
of the Sharks and the Jets.
And people, most people
thought I was Italian
so I got away, I think
I got away with my hide,
the Golden Guineas
left me alone,
until they found
out I was Spanish.
Then I was a Shark, you know.
I was never really
into any of that stuff.
I just wanted to make movies.
This movie to me
what's so gorgeous,
even the way it starts,
just that road,
and there are different ways
to make horror films,
what I enjoy about this
is that right away,
the music is very disturbing
and telegraphs that you're
going to get into something
that's going to be scary.
But then, you know,
they go to a graveyard,
and they have their little
dialogue about the length
of the trip and they got
started late and so on.
They ought to make
the day the time changes
the first day of summer.
Well, it's 8 o'clock
and it's still light.
A lot of good the extra
day light does us.
We've still got
a 3 hour drive back.
We're not going to be home
until after midnight.
So it's mundane you know,
there's a mundanity to it
and that is um, I think
a very modern approach.
It even came following
a bunch of low budget films
that basically, like
white girls in bikinis
being chased by guys
wearing shag carpeting
being kind of monster.
Before "Night," audiences
of horror were accustomed
to space aliens,
radioactive mutations
and traditional
gothic monsters.
And by not doing
that kind of stuff,
by making it just
as real as possible,
it became this
whole other thing.
It's not even
a haunted cemetery,
it looks like a big open place
where they can park their car
and they can go to the grave
and it'll be fine.
It's still spooky, the music
is indicating something to come
but it's essentially
a day in the life episode
of these characters.
Boy, you used to really
be scared here.
You're still afraid!
It's to me one of the first sort
of post-modern horror movies
in that it is
commenting on itself.
They're coming
to get you, Barbara!
That's what's so brilliant
about that famous line,
"They're coming
to get you, Barbara!"
is that he's commenting
on a horror movie.
They're coming for you!
Look, there comes
one of them now!
Now, of course,
years later we have "Scream"
and other films like that,
and they're self-reflexive,
but in this obnoxious
nudge-nudge, wink-wink way,
where it's like the audience,
well we've seen all this before
let's make fun
of the characters.
That's not how it
functions in this movie.
It functions
as two people, you know
the brother is kind of teasing
and scare the sister,
and then when it comes true,
to me this is absolutely
stunningly awesome.
Help me!
The horror just
came out of nowhere.
It just kind of shocked you.
It scared me to death.
It disorients you just right
from the beginning of the movie;
you're being told that places
that shouldn't be very scary
are actually going
to be really scary.
Situations where
you should feel safe,
you're not going to feel safe.
The new horror comes
stumbling towards them
which is the zombie.
He really reinvents the zombie
and the zombie becomes one
of the great new monsters.
The image of the zombie
in the cemetery
is a key image that we
all felt was so iconic
and we patterned our
zombies for the series
"The Walking Dead"
after that zombie.
We patterned both in terms
of its kind of gait,
his speed.
Not only is it creepy,
but it just seems
like it's unrelenting
and it's not going to stop.
Before "Night of
the Living Dead,"
there were movies like
"I Walk with a Zombie,"
they were this sort
of tribal character.
Very different.
Now, arguably, the zombie is
as important as the werewolf.
But right below the vampire
is probably the most
important horror monster
in the history of scary movies.
All these zombies
all go back to Romero.
There's no movie director that's
responsible for the vampire.
There's no movie director that's
responsible for Frankenstein.
There's no movie director that's
responsible for the werewolf.
There's people who've
made key movies of that.
But, those are much
older characters,
which have this kind
of literary pedigree.
And while there have been
undead and zombies, et cetera,
what we know of as a zombie,
the kind of the it's alive
moment of it, was 1968,
George Romero in "Night of
the Living Dead" in Pittsburgh.
Dead face!
Hold it.
Don't smile.
Smiling is your enemy.
Follow the sound guys!
What are George Romero's
rules of zombies?
That zombies,
they, they walk slow.
They drag their feet
when they're walking.
Jared, what else?
And they don't smile or laugh.
They don't smile or laugh.
When they're human,
the way they die
is the way they're going
to stay when they're zombies
until they turn into dust.
What is the purpose
of a zombie?
They like to eat people.
They don't live
to do anything else.
They just like to eat
and eat and eat.
You guys remember what
I said, the need to feed?
Say it again.
The need to feed!
Say it again.
The need to feed!
The need to feed!
That is it!
To me there's something, um,
definitive and classical
about the terror
and the simplicity.
It's not overblown.
She gets in the car,
what do you do?
You undo the clutch.
She goes and she blows it
and runs into the tree!
I mean, oh my God!
Every shot does feel
iconic at this point.
And I'm speaking of these
first 10 minutes.
Every shot is iconic.
It doesn't feel storyboarded.
Everything feels organically,
like it's organically unfolding.
She sees the lonely house
in the distance
and that's sort
of another iconic shot.
This to me is one of the great
sequences in any movie.
Duane Jones,
a classically trained actor,
played the role
of Ben, the hero.
One of the things amazing
to me when I saw it this time,
and it really blew my mind,
was the fact that no one
reacts to Duane Jones,
or the character
as a black man.
It's alright.
There really wasn't
an audition.
Uh, you know, we never
auditioned Duane.
He was just a beautifully
impressive guy.
He was a really
beautiful person, too.
The script wasn't written,
the character wasn't described
as white, black,
yellow, red, or anything.
And we thought we were
doing the right thing
by not changing the script
when we decided to use Duane.
Here is a white woman,
very pale, blonde woman,
who runs into a house
and is rescued by a black man.
And there's no reaction!
There's a pump out here that's
locked, is there a key?
She's out of it, she's scared,
she's frightened,
but not of him.
Which in 1968, as strange
as it seems, was still something
that the average audience
really would have noticed.
It would have registered to them
as something different.
It felt like such a modern
movie in that obviously
it was never remarked
upon that he was black.
Nobody said anything about it
the way they did
in other movies.
And keep in mind,
this was a time
when there was
a hugely popular TV show,
"The Andy Griffith Show,"
taking place in the south,
and there were
no black people in it.
So that to have
this mainstream culture
refuse to acknowledge
any kind of black catalyst
and to have it there
and not be remarked upon,
it really felt
like a brand new day.
I don't think anyone had ever
seen anything like that,
in the 60s.
Chiz Schultz produced
television specials
starring Harry Belafonte
in the late 1960s.
We had Petula Clark
who was the top
British singer at the time.
And they had a number together.
And at one point toward the end
Harry links arms with Petula
and they sing the final verse.
And we finished
dress rehearsal.
And the man in charge of
advertising for Chrysler said,
"Belafonte cannot
touch Petula Clark."
And we were sort of in shock.
And Belafonte said, "I'm not
sure I understood you."
He said, "There will be
no touching of Miss Clark."
Remember, we have to sell
cars in the South."
And Harry said,
"Give me just a minute."
And he called
the president of Chrysler.
And he said, "You should know
I'm calling a press conference
in 10 minutes
to say that Chrysler
will not allow me
to touch Petula Clark."
We went into air time.
The taping.
Harry and Petula linked arms.
But that was not unusual.
That was the atmosphere
at the time.
We were only a year past
"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
which had made its
entire subject
the shockingness
of inter-racial marriage.
Mom, this is John.
Doc, Doc, Doctor Prentiss.
I'm so pleased to meet you.
I'm pleased to meet
you, Mrs. Drayton.
"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,"
was criticized for taking pains
not to offend white moviegoers
and for being out of touch
with the racial storms of 1967.
And it never occurred
to me that I might fall
in love with a Negro!
Of Sidney Poitier's character,
H. Rap Brown said:
This kind of criticism
wasn't new to Poitier.
I remember watching
Sidney Poitier
in the Stanley Kramer film,
"The Defiant Ones."
And, uh, it was him
and Tony Curtis
playing these two convicts
who escape from the chain gang,
and near the very
end of the film,
they're trying to get
to this rail road, right?
But Tony can't
hold on, he can't,
the train's moving too fast.
So instead of Sidney
lets Tony drop,
Sidney falls off, too.
And then you see
the last scene,
and Sidney's cradling
Tony Curtis in his arms,
and he starts
singing this song.
If I ever do see his face once
more, he never get home again
Cradling Tony, you know,
as the law enforcement people
come down on them.
And I remember
thinking back then
when I was 15, 16 years old,
Sidney, you crazy, man?
Let that white man go.
Save yourself, you know.
Because it was like,
he was always becoming, at,
by that time, he was becoming
sort of like this, this savior.
African American heroes
in the mid-60s in movies
were allowed
to be really smart,
they weren't necessary
allowed to be aggressive
or strong or tough.
I mean, Poitier started
to break that barrier
in "In the Heat of the Night,"
but the most he could do
was slap a white man
in the face
after he is slapped in the face
by that white man.
Poitier played a detective
who in this scene
dared to interrogate
a rich white man.
You saw it.
I saw it.
The slap was
an electric moment in 1967.
Then all of a sudden
Duane Jones is like the lead,
basically in
an all-white film.
But he comes across as a very
strong, focused character.
Duane was very upset whenever
he had to do anything violent.
He's a, you know, very
sensitive kind of a guy.
And what's a really
telling scene
is when he slaps the women.
It's even more intense
than when Sidney
hits what's-his-name
in "In the Heat of the Night."
He really slapped her.
Particularly, "I'm going
to slap a white woman"
and shoot a white guy.
"And uh, I'm going
to be in trouble!"
And then when
he shoots the guy!
You know, he shoots the guy!
I said, "This is a bold
black man for 1967!"
Very bold.
You would never put
"Night of the Living Dead"
on the spectrum
of blaxploitation
and black power movies
that started to happen
in the late 60s and early 70s,
but in a way,
you know, it really,
it precedes "Shaft,"
it precedes "Superfly,"
it precedes all those movies
where the African American
main character
was suddenly
no longer accommodationist
and exceptional and polite.
He's black.
He's brutal.
He's boss.
But, you know,
tough and empowered.
And of course we discussed it,
and Duane, as I said,
was the most sensitive
among us to the racial issue
and how some of that
stuff might resonate.
We said, "Well, wait,
it was in the script
before the guy
was black."
And, but he was saying, "Well
yeah, but he is black now!"
And so you have
to think about that.
And as I said,
I've in recent years
come to the thought that maybe
we should have explored
the racial issue a little bit.
We thought we were being really
hip by not changing the script.
I think it's also
what made the movie
feel like it belonged
to another generation.
That sense of not
wringing its hands
and having to talk,
stop for a moment,
they're all being pilloried
by zombies and saying,
"You know, Ben,
when I was a boy,
we had a colored maid
and she never worked
as hard as you
did for us."
I mean, by not having
a scene like that,
it felt exciting and new.
It truly did.
Hold it!
Don't shoot!
We're from town.
A radio!
One great thing about
"Night of the Living Dead"
is that it doesn't resort
to the clich of like,
well, everybody would put
aside their differences
in the face of such
a big threat.
How long you guys
been down there?
I could've used
some help up here.
That's the cellar.
It's the safest place.
Which is this hokey thing
that horror movies
and sci fi movies still do.
That no matter, you know,
how much you may differ
in real life, all that's
going to get cast aside
because you have
to fight the monster
or fight the alien or whatever.
The cellar.
The cellar, there's
only one door, right?
Just one door, that's
all we have to protect.
Tom and I fixed it so it locks
and boards from the inside.
But up here, all these windows?
Why, we'd never know where
they were going to hit us next!
You got a point,
Mr. Cooper.
But down in the cellar,
there's no place to run to.
Romero actually suggests that,
nope, it's going to be embedded
even in the way
you choose to fight,
even in where
you choose to hide.
But the cellar is
the strongest place.
The cellar is a death trap.
Who you are in real life
is going to absolutely affect
how you treat this threat
and how you see this threat.
You put people in this
incredibly extreme circumstance
and, you know, what kind
of society do they create?
And that's the heart
of "Night of the Living Dead."
You two do whatever you like.
I'm going back down
into the cellar
and you better decide!
Because I'm going
to board up that door
and I'm not going to unlock it
again no matter what happens!
Some parts of the movie
almost play like Beckett.
You know, that sense
of what happens
when you trap people together
and they just have
to deal with themselves.
And that sense of anticipation
and knowing that
there's no place to go.
Then slowly there's
cracks in the crevices
and the hands
start coming through,
and they're trying
to get the hands out.
And he shoots the guy
a couple of times.
The guy won't die until
he shoots them in the head.
To kill them you need
to chop off their heads.
Or what?
Or just shoot them
in the brain.
Because the way they
work is by the brain.
Usually you have
to throw fire so that,
so that you can save
yourself or someone else.
Then, they see the news report.
It's on!
It's on!
We've never had the budgets
to really explore
that this is
a worldwide phenomenon.
We did it mostly with media.
What they were hearing
on the radio and on the TV.
Otherwise it was
all the farmhouse.
The wave of murder
which is sweeping
the Eastern third of the nation
is being committed by creatures
who feast upon the flesh
of their victims.
Chuck Craig was
an actual newsman.
The guy that has most
of the airtime in the movie.
First eyewitness accounts
of this grisly development
came from people who were
understandably frightened,
and almost incoherent.
Wrote his own copy.
Read the script and we sat
around and we bullshat
about the concept
of what was going on.
It's hard for us here to believe
what we're reporting to you,
but it does seem to be a fact.
That stuff has a ring
of authenticity about it
because Chuck did it himself.
The kind of low key realism
of those broadcasts
of those newsrooms
absolutely is intended
to situate the movie
in reality.
That sort of unfiltered
sense of nobody's
spinning the news,
just reporting it.
It's saying that if this
were happening in your town,
this is what your newscasts
would look like.
Major contact came
in a pre-dawn attack...
I think the newscasts
that were created
for "Night of the Living Dead"
are in sync with the kind
of newscasts that I was seeing,
my generation was seeing
on television, when we used
to watch Morley Safer
out in Vietnam
in the bush and stuff.
Vietnam was America's
first televised war.
And while the networks
downplayed the bloodshed,
viewers, for the first
time in TV history,
got glimpses of what
war was really like.
I think the news coverage
of the Vietnam war was unlike
news coverage from ever before.
I remember just
the amount of dead.
All law enforcement agencies
and the military
have been organized
to search out
and destroy
the marauding ghouls.
Particularly, when you
saw the vigilantes
get prepared and stuff.
It made me think of
the stuff I would see
on the television and stuff
of the Newark riots, of Watts.
This was all happening, man.
You saw National Guard
on the street,
you saw looting and stuff.
So it all was very
reminiscent of that stuff.
I mean, it was obviously
of those times.
I grew up in Detroit in 1967
and I remember that summer
being terrified.
There's a famous story about
a house in my neighborhood that,
somebody was hanging
out in their house.
There were a bunch of,
you know, National Guardsmen,
which was teenagers
with guns who'd probably
been jacked up on coffee
and up for two days in a row.
There was a guy lighting
a cigarette hiding out
in an attic, they thought
somebody fired a gun,
and hundreds of rounds
of ammunition were
expended on this house.
That this guy wasn't killed
was a complete miracle.
I mean, they shot
the house up so much,
it almost took
the top of it off.
And so to see that
stuff in a movie.
And also to see that stuff in
a movie with a black guy in it.
It was like a welt of social
consciousness in filmmaking.
There were so many
things I don't think
anybody could ever do again.
In other words, you feel that
the radiation on the Venus Probe
was enough to cause
these mutations?
There was a very high
degree of radiation.
Just a minute.
I'm not sure that
that's certain at all.
Big traditional institutions,
whether it's the government or
the army or network television
are utterly unable
to be counted upon,
not only counted
upon to stop it
but counted upon
even to explain it.
Um, so, there's this
great sense of just,
and this is very 1968,
great sense of the complete
of any institution that
purveys itself to you
as being trustworthy.
I must disagree with these
gentlemen presently
until this is
irrefutably proved.
Everything is being
done that can be done.
I think there's one other big
departure from convention,
specifically from horror
convention, which is that
if that movie had been
made 10 years earlier
or even 5 years earlier,
there would've been,
like, a voodoo potion...
Combining voodoo witchery
with the most advanced
of medical sciences.
Or a curse, or an evil
professor, or an incantation.
Genius or madman?
Romero sort of tosses
that all aside.
You don't ever get an official
confirmed explanation
of what's happening.
God changed the rules.
That's the only explanation
that I, that I need.
No more room in hell.
You can see what it is,
you can't see why it is.
It's so indeterminate that
you can't protect yourself.
And you're not given
anything of why it is
that would make you more
comfortable watching it.
And it doesn't matter to me.
It's happening.
And probably, at least
in my mythology,
it's some sort
of permanent condition.
I don't know. Unless we
redeem ourselves somehow.
Stay tuned to the broadcasting
station in your local area
for this list
of rescue stations.
Maybe we can get to the safe
shelter, get gas in the car.
Look for the name of the rescue
station nearest you
and make your way to that
location as soon as possible.
So we have that truck.
If we can get some gas
we can get out of here.
This is great
story logic, you know,
great plot unfolding
and great story logic.
There's a key on here
that's labeled
for the gas pump out back.
So they said, "We have
the key," right?
After we get the gas
and get back into the house,
then we'll worry about getting
everybody into the truck.
So then they create
this diversion
with the Molotov cocktails.
And you see, I remember
this, right?
Duane and the guy run out,
get in the car.
The girl now, she panics,
she doesn't want
to be without the boyfriend.
She runs and jumps
in the car, right?
They get to the gas tank.
Come on!
This key won't work.
Duane, pow!
Shoots the look off.
Watch the torch!
So they've had the problem with
the gasoline's soaking the car.
I hate it when that happens.
Um, but they're aware,
they need to get out of that
frickin' truck.
So they're getting out
and then she says,
"Oh, my sweater's stuck!"
Come on, come on!
My jacket's caught.
And you're like,
"Your sweater's stuck?
What, that's it!"
It's understanding how
to portray the little,
the little things that can go
wrong that really can screw you
in this sort of scary
giving it an incredibly
timeless and special quality.
And they start
devouring the meat.
But then you see that
they're growing in force!
So, earlier Duane says
only 8 or 10 zombies
becomes 16 zombies,
then 20 zombies.
It grows and grows.
Once you saw the violence,
once you saw the extent
they were gonna go
to show the gore,
the audience at the time said,
"Well, if they're gonna show"
a kid chomping on her father,
and they're gonna show it
in this detail, you know,
"what else are they
gonna show me?"
And that's terrifying.
This film and the structure,
the morality,
who lives and who dies is
not based on whether you're
a good person, whether you
work hard or fight hard.
I mean a child killing
her mother, that is the violence
that we're experiencing
in that scene,
moreso than someone being
attacked by a trowel.
That scene is just devastating
because the mother
is very adoring.
That remains one of the most
shocking things I've ever seen.
And I'll tell you what, it's
not because you see the gore.
What's beautiful is the sound.
The knife never
touches the flesh.
And when they break
through in that last scene,
the girl's trying to stop 'em.
And they break in.
And the brother with the glove?
No, get out!
No, no!
When Barbara gets it
from her own brother,
this irony is so profoundly,
it's disturbing,
and once again,
it's not deserved.
When you play with
the expectations
of the classic structure,
and then you defy them
and the wrong person
gets killed.
This is what's upsetting,
that's what haunts,
that's what creates
a feeling of dread.
I mean, we've lost
various of our heroes
along the way,
but Ben is still at it,
and there's that scene when
he has to go into the basement.
I mean, he's fought
this whole time about
not going down there,
or that it's a last resort.
And when you realize that's
what he's going to do.
It's just an incredibly
horrific shot of all the zombies
just busting in, they've
broken through the membrane.
In the time that "Night
of the Living Dead" came out,
you don't feel safe
in your home anymore.
You know, it's--
There are things
that are overtaking us
over which we have no control
and there's that fear
and I think that the zombie
apocalypse takes inspiration
from that fear and it's why
audiences connect with it
in a way that is not quite
obvious on the surface
but is really in the subtext.
It's an unsettling
element of the movie
that the people who seem
most likely to be able
to thwart this incursion
of the living dead
look like a lynch mob.
The resonance for people
who would have spent
the last 10 years
watching white southerners
vow to prevent
the desegregation of schools,
for instance, um,
it would've been
really pretty clear.
And dogs in "Night
of the Living Dead,"
there's a very specific
cultural resonance.
You know, black men
being chased by dogs
is one of the ugliest images
of the civil rights movement,
and was very much part of
the national visual vocabulary
of any moviegoer,
other than a very little kid,
who would have gone
to see this movie.
And again, it connects
to this, this idea that
it's not as simple as
the good guys vs. the undead.
There are the good guys,
the not good guys,
and the living dead.
They seem to be getting
a certain amount of pleasure
out of putting down these
monsters and being able
to go out and hunt people
and lynch people.
They seem really real to me.
They felt real, those guys.
I wasn't sure they were actors.
It's a really interesting,
squirmy political aspect
of the movie that's
intentionally unsettling.
I think Romero wants you to feel
uncomfortable with the fact
that the so called victors
at the end of the movie
are exactly the kind of people
you're inclined not to root for.
You! Drag that on out of here
and throw it on the fire.
Nothing down here.
Alright, go ahead
and give him a hand.
Let's go check out the house.
There's something there.
I heard a noise.
Alright Vince,
hit him in the head.
Right between the eyes.
Good shot.
That was the ironic ending.
He refuses to go downstairs,
finally he survives
by going downstairs,
then when he comes back up
he gets gunned down.
'Cause he's mistaken
for one of the living dead.
Okay, he's dead.
Let's go get him.
That's another one
for the fire.
So, yeah, that ending was there
before we ever cast Duane.
And that was
the only time for me,
I, I put a racial thing to it.
You know, like, they saw him,
he didn't yell out,
he was a black man,
and they shot him.
My favorite scene was when,
probably when
the African man got shot,
when he wasn't even a zombie.
I thought they should know
if he's a zombie or not,
because if they knew he was
a zombie, they would have,
the zombie would have
attacked them already
and walked toward them.
But all he did was stand
up and they just shot him.
A lot of people talked
about that as a lynching
and saw a political
thread in it.
I think it's more of a shock
in terms of the way it violates
your sense of narrative
expectation than,
uh, politically.
When our protagonist does get
shot, utterly arbitrarily,
I think that's way
beyond a racist issue,
that's Romero just
speaking from the times
about a bleakness that
the culture was suffering.
If he had survived,
it would have been dishonest.
I mean, even as a kid
and I was, you know,
propping my eyes open
with toothpicks
trying to sleep a couple
of nights after.
It felt like that was the most
honest thing to do.
You know, it's a tradition
in films that you can escape.
There's always the idea
you can escape.
You might leave your past if
you were involved with the mob,
you would leave and you'd
have a new beginning.
It's a tradition all
the way back to Homer!
The new beginning.
You go home
and you start again.
You refresh
and you start again.
But, of course,
the apocalyptic filmmakers
take that away from you.
Tomorrow may not come
the way you're planning on it.
You may not have
another chance.
The only reason to do
the fantasy film
or the horror film
is to sort of upset the order,
upset the balance of things.
And it seems to me, seemed to me
that the formula was always
to restore order, you know?
Put it back the way it was,
which seems, you know,
counterproductive to what
you're doing initially.
And, which is why it
made sense to me to have,
you know, "Night
of the Living Dead"
have this sort of tragic
and ironic ending.
The credits roll seconds
after Ben's death.
It's shockingly blas
and detached.
It's as businesslike
as anything else in the film.
It may be the most emotionless
horror film of all time.
If it had been Sidney Poitier
in the movie,
he would have done that thing
and wave to everybody,
thrown his trench coat
over his shoulder,
and walked off
into the distance
as the haunting love theme
by Loulou piped into theaters
reminding us of the feat
he accomplished.
Um, and you know, that's,
it just felt so right.
It was the thing that was
probably more exciting
to everybody, when I
finally called the people
who did see it,
"Wasn't it great
that he does everything
and then gets shot?
Not only gets shot,
but right in the head!
So it's not like
you miss it."
It's completely terrifying
and the perfect ending.
Randy, light these
torches over here.
You really offered no comforts
to the audience at all.
No. But there's always
the refreshment stand!
Principal photography for
"Night of the Living Dead"
wrapped in November of 1967.
As Romero edited, the search
for investors continued.
And at first people
had no faith that we could
actually make a movie.
And it was only
when we were able
to actually show some dailies
and people saw that lips
were in sync
with the sound, um,
and they were able to say,
"It looks like a movie!"
And we'd say, "That's what
we're trying to tell ya!
One of these days it's gonna
grow up to be a movie!"
And, uh, you know,
so money dribbled in,
over the course
of several months.
And we were never certain
that we were ever
going to get enough
to finish it.
We didn't have money
for the sound mix.
So Russ Streiner
challenged the guy
who owns the lab
to a chess match,
and at stake was the sound mix.
And Russ beat the guy!
And won the sound mix!
So this was the kind of shit
that we were going through, man.
In January, 1968,
Vietnamese Revolutionary Forces
mounted a coordinated attack
on over 100 South Vietnamese
cities and towns, including
the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.
It was called the Tet Offensive
and it brought
some of the most disturbing
images to date
to prime time television.
For many, the war
seemed more dangerous
and pointless than ever.
Still, it would
continue until 1975.
President Lyndon B. Johnson
seemed better at facing facts
when it came
to domestic policy.
He commissioned a study
to investigate the causes
of the nation's race riots.
An unflinching wake-up call,
the Kerner Commission Report
warned that,
Regarding the ghetto,
it stated:
And while "black militancy"
may have added fuel
to the riots,
the primary cause was:
We are moving toward two
societies, separate and unequal
and if something isn't
done to stop this
in a very determined manner
things can really get worse.
A few days later
"Night of the Living Dead"
was finally completed.
Image 10 still needed
a distributor for the film.
With the hope of finding
one in New York City,
Romero and Streiner
pick up the first finished
print from the lab.
Threw it in the trunk
of the car.
Finished answer print,
drove it to New York
to see if anybody
wanted to show it.
And Russ and I are
driving to New York
and we hear on the radio
that Martin Luther King
had been assassinated.
And you know, of course we
have this sort of angry film
that, you know, has
this 60s stuff in it,
we had a black lead,
Duane, and, you know...
Several distributors
considered the film.
It did not ignite
a bidding war.
I think Romero was working
against all kinds of prejudices
against what he
was trying to do.
A, if you've never made a film,
you can't make a film.
You've got to have a whole
succession of films
in order to make a film.
Uh, I think he was working
against the fact of you have
to have millions of dollars
to make a feature film.
Well, you don't.
The movie only cost $114,000.
Um, that's a very,
very low budget now.
It was also a very,
very low budget then.
I think in '67,
the average studio movie
probably cost about three
or 3.5 million dollars.
So $114,000 is nothing.
The movie's in black
and white at a moment
when just about
everything in movies
had switched over to color.
A black and white movie
in 1968 was less playable.
Theaters were less
interested in booking it.
Um, of course he was working
with a cast of unknowns.
That adds up to a very tough
set of circumstances,
especially when you're
effectively rebooting a genre
that hasn't done much
for the last several years.
Columbia, I think, was
the first place we went to
and they actually held
it for a little while
and it looked as if they were
really seriously thinking
about releasing it.
Columbia turned it down.
American International Pictures,
known for low budget biker,
psychedelic, and Roger Corman's
Edgar Allan Poe movies,
said they'd release it,
but under one condition.
They wanted to change
the ending and they said,
"It's just too dark,"
and, you know, so,
we boldly said, "Fuggetaboutit!
This is our movie!"
And we walked, and we never
got the time of day
from anybody else for a while.
And we finally hired, someone
recommended a sales agent,
um, you know, somebody
who's business it is
to go and, you know,
try to find distribution.
And so we hired this
guy and he took it,
and eventually got
a deal with Walter Reade.
"Night of the Living Dead"
was first released in theaters
and drive-ins
on October 2nd, 1968.
When we first saw
"Night of the Living Dead"
we went to a drive in
to watch it.
It was the first time we said,
"It really is a movie,
isn't it?"
'Cause we were able
to go to the drive in
and buy some dogs and some
popcorn, check out
"Night of the Living Dead."
"Night of the Living Dead"
in New York was treated
as a grindhouse movie,
and it was booked
as a grindhouse movie.
It played on the New Amsterdam
theater on 42nd Street,
which was like a 7th run,
a bad theater.
New York's 42nd Street
was the epicenter
of the grindhouse circuit.
These are all exploitation films
that have no artistic ambition.
You can't escape the shock.
I'm going to give you the time
of your life, baby.
That have no political meaning.
That are--are probably
morally bankrupt.
I'm going to kill you!
"Night of the Living Dead"
honestly was the kind of movie
that critics mostly dismissed.
...of the Living Dead.
It was in a very
disreputable genre.
Horror was a dirty business
right next to porn,
uh, in terms of how the movies were
made, how they were financed,
where they were shown
in drive ins.
Variety called
"Night of the Living Dead" an:
Anyone who did review it
reviewed it in that way.
You know, sort of
really angrily.
It was dismissed in
the New York Times, um,
in a tiny, tiny review
by Vincent Canby.
Canby's 3 sentence
review began with:
He writes in this tone
that he can't really believe
that he's been dispatched to
have to write about this thing,
and probably had to go
spend a miserable day
at the New Amsterdam theater on
42nd Street sitting through it.
Along with
the grindhouse circuit,
"Night" was booked
for afternoon matinees.
Throughout the 60s,
horror movies,
fan magazines and toys were
marketed primarily to children.
You'll cringe in terror
when you see our
Screaming Mee Mee Show.
In 1968, parents felt safe
dropping their kids off
for an afternoon
of "horror."
Their most recent experience
would have been something
like the Roger Corman,
Vincent Price,
Edgar Allen Poe adaptations,
which were fun and they
were even a little scary,
but they were basically
horror movies
which you could
almost take kids to.
So, here comes
"Night of the Living Dead."
I can't imagine what children,
by the time you get to
the, the sort of flesh feast
where they're eating,
whatever they're eating.
And this naked, uh, zombie
staggering toward the house.
You were like, way out
of the realm of anything
that had happened in horror.
Critic Roger Ebert attended
one of these matinees.
He wrote
in the Chicago Sun-Times:
It was so many people
running out of the theater
in the hallway of the movies,
that was the first movie
I ever seen people
running out the movie.
I remember the girl
that was in front of us,
she put the coat over her head
and was running out, falling.
The name of the theater
was called, "Adams."
It was in Newark, NJ,
downtown Newark.
I had to be 10, my oldest
brother had to be 11,
and he cried worse than all
of us, and my younger brother,
it didn't bother him.
As of today,
he likes scary movies.
I might have been 13...
12, 13?
The drive in movie was
the Whitestone Drive In
in the Bronx.
The part where the little girl,
she's, like, eating the father.
That was, like,
really horrible!
It took me a long time
to get to sleep at night.
And when the lights was
off it was hard for us.
You know, I remember
a few times I wet the bed
because I was scared to get
up to go to the bathroom
because I always thought that
the "Night of the Living Dead"
was in the other room.
You feel so, like, "Oh, my God,
they're coming..."
They're going to come
to get me and eat me up!"
An abridged version
of Roger Ebert's review
was published nationwide
in Reader's Digest magazine.
In spite of this warning to
parents, the film did so well
that the National
Association of Theater Owners
selected it as their
"Exploitation picture
of the month."
It was playing at, like,
in the Drive-In circuit
and it wasn't the first
run film in the bill,
it was the last film,
so consequently it was on late
when everyone was
asleep in the car.
Elvis Mitchell first saw "Night"
when he was 10 years old
at a drive-in
in Detroit.
The sheer excitement
of seeing a movie like that,
as terrifying as it was,
it felt like it belonged to you.
You know, it felt like this
generational shift
in filmmaking.
If there had been more
resources devoted to the movie,
and more consideration,
and if it wasn't like
run and gun filmmaking,
if it wasn't like hearing
Public Enemy for the first time,
or for my parent's generation
seeing Elvis Presley
for the first time.
It's just that kind of, oh,
my God, that electricity.
In 1969, Walter Reade
re-released "Night"
on a new double bill.
They played it
with "Slaves?"
I mean, I couldn't
believe that.
You know? What?
and "Night of the Living Dead?"
How does that connect?
But it was at this
where George Abagnolo,
critic for Andy Warhol's
ultra-hip "Interview" magazine,
saw "Night."
He wrote:
And when the film got
to Europe in 1970,
the prestigious French film
journal, "Positif," called it:
Of course, the moment
that stuff starts happening
then everybody over here says,
"Well, maybe I should
take a look at this."
A bunch of people jumped
on the bandwagon, Rex Reed,
and all that.
And Roger did a Mea Culpa
and said he didn't
understand it.
Roger Ebert would later write:
The Museum of Modern Art
in New York played "Night"
to a standing-room-only crowd.
The film would
eventually become part
of its permanent collection.
But, uh, then that whole
copyright issue came up
and that was the end of that.
When Romero and Streiner were
shopping their film around,
its original title was,
"The Night of the Flesh Eaters."
And we put the little
copyright bug,
the c with circle around it,
on the title.
It was over
a live action picture,
of one of the early shots
of the car in the cemetery.
And when they put
the new title on,
which was their title,
"Night of the Living Dead,"
the copyright thing came off.
And they never noticed
that there wasn't one,
and that's the way it is.
And people all around
the world said,
"Wait, there's no copyright
on this movie anymore!"
So, basically,
it became public domain.
Stupid mistake!
Image 10 received no royalties
for the huge ticket
sales in Europe.
Their attempt to sue
the distributor ended
when Walter Reade
filed for bankruptcy.
Pirated copies of "Night"
played worldwide.
It's impossible to know
how much money it's made.
End the war!
End the war!
End the war!
As the war grinded
on into the 1970s,
so did
"Night of the Living Dead,"
its midnight shows making it
a cult institution.
You want to own it,
you want it to belong to you.
Uh, you want to believe
there's a part of pop culture
that still kind of comes
through the back door,
that isn't heralded
and isn't having all of its fun
taken out of it
before it gets to you.
Um, and that's one
of the things that
that movie really had.
And for a long time.
And as history unfolded,
events seemed to vindicate,
time and again, "Night's"
suspicion of authority
and unmitigated bleakness.
All these things made
you think, "Oh, my God."
I'm not alone!"
Finally, you almost feel
like Ben, there are other,
there are like-minded people,
there's this cult
of other people
out there like me,
or people who know how
to fold this into a movie.
You wanted,
you wanted to see that.
For the British Film Institute's
"Sight and Sound,"
Elliot Stein wrote:
You know, 1968 was a moment
when everybody was reading
political messages
into every film
and I think it
is a political movie.
And one reason that "Night of
the Living Dead" works so well
is because everyone in America
thought some version
of this country
is going to hell.
The lunatics are taking over.
Conservative, older people
thought that, and progressive,
young people thought that that
had been true for a long time.
And on that political front,
the movie plays perfectly
to both audiences.
"Night of the Living Dead"
metaphorically, in a funny way,
were all these fears rising
up and coming at them.
And they weren't coming
at heroes or wealthy people,
they were coming
at the common American.
I mean, the young woman
who plays the lead.
The couple who's in the house.
They're just that average
working class American.
And here were these
fearful things coming
to not only kill them
but to eat them!
So, it fulfilled I think a kind
of pervasive fear that existed
in the country at the time
among normal working people.
There was a sense of chaos
and sense of tension, you know,
in the American fabric,
you know,
which means things
were going to change.
So I think that what
Romero was doing
with "Night of the Living Dead"
sort of points to you know,
this unraveling.
It's the unraveling of
everything we like to believe
is our comfort zone
and our safety.
"Night of the Living Dead's"
cynicism and ferocious intensity
was reflected in many
of the films that followed
in the 1970s.
Like "Night," these films
shattered all the things
that kept us safe
in traditional Hollywood movies.
Young love.
The patriarchal family.
The media.
The government.
And the police and military.
There's really a fragility
to our society,
and then you realize well
in fact I must guard it,
I must be vigilant.
And then you get in to why
horror stories can actually have
a positive, uh,
message if you will,
a positive effect
which is to say:
Here is a cautionary tale.
Do not take anything
for granted.
Because one day a zombie might
wander up, and you may make fun
of the person who's afraid
but they could be right,
and then things might
go from bad to worse.
They're coming
to get you, Barbara!
And you've got "Zombie
Number One" Bill Hinzman.
Started it all 40 years ago.
My role in "Night
of the Living Dead"
was the "graveyard zombie."
And the graveyard zombie scene
was the last scene that was shot
and throughout the film,
I was a crewmember, of course,
and an investor in the film,
and throughout the film
I was jumping in to fill
a part as a zombie.
I was tall, skinny,
and had an old suit, uh,
so, it was pretty appropriate.
But anyway, when the time came
to film the final scene
George says, "You really
look good as a zombie",
do you want to do
the graveyard zombie?"
I said, "Yeah, sure."
You know, sometimes,
I really do blush, I think,
under the make-up, you know,
because it's really kind
of embarrassing.
I, I'm sure you've heard
the stories of actors
are always afraid
they're gonna get discovered
that they don't have
any talent or anything.
And, it's like,
sometimes I feel that way.
I'm a little embarrassed
sometimes because, you know,
every Sunday night I got
to take the damn garbage out,
and on the way out I'll go,
"I'm a legend!"
What the hell am I taking
the damn garbage out for?
"Why aren't I rich?"
But that's, that's life!
But it's so much fun
to do these things.
You know, just, especially if
I'm depressed about something.
My wife kicks me out
every once in a while
and says, "Go to one
of those events.
Get your ego built
back up again."
Captioned by Video Caption
Originally published 10/27/2013