- Duane Jones
- Judith O'Dea
- Karl Hardman
Barbra and her brother Johnny travel by car from Pittsburgh to the countryside to visit the gravestone of their father in the cemetery. Out of the blue, they are attacked by a strange man and Johnny is murdered. Barbra runs and releases the brake of Johnny's car since the keys are in his pocket, and flees to an isolated farmhouse, where she locks herself inside. Barbra is in shock and soon she finds a man, Ben, who is also escaping from the inhuman creatures and he reinforces the doors, windows and openings in the house. He also finds a shotgun and a radio and they learn that the radiation from a satellite that was returning from Venus has somehow reactivated the brain of the dead. Then they find five humans hidden in the basement: Harry Cooper, his wife Helen and their daughter Karen that is sick; and Tom and his girlfriend Judy. Harry has an argument with Ben, since he believes that the basement is the safest place for them and Harry goes not agree. Along the night, the tension ...
The movie that changed zombie lore forever, NOTLD is a classic not only of horror in general, but of black horror in particular. Supposedly, the racial commentary that can be read into the film was never intended, as the role of Ben wasn't written for a black man. Still, the fact that George Romero picked Duane Jones for the lead role is racially significant in and of itself, particularly since he gets to smack around some white people. I imagine that there were quite a few black people in 1968 who would've done that for free. Jones' presence is commanding and perfect for the character of Ben, who doesn't hesitate to take charge of the group hiding from the zombie horde. Though he meets resistence, race is never a spoken issue. Still, you can't help but read into the fact that while Ben survives through the night, he's unceremoniously shot the next day by a bunch of zombie-hunting rednecks. Though low-budget, NOTLD is well-acted, well-paced, and still impressive to this day, making you wonder why so many of the monetarily challenged zombie movies made today are such utter crap.