Night Of The Living Dead: How One Film Changed The Face Of Halloween

Halloween outfits can range from the mild to the wild. A tattered suit or a fancy dress can spark a smile, laugh or spontaneous fright, especially if you throw in a touch of zombie blood. Beloved Halloween costumes are ordinarily based on what is hot in Beloved culture at the moment. While Spice Girl and Superman costumes may be a thing of the past, zombie costumes are a staple of the Halloween season thanks largely to the 1968 excellent "Night of the Living Dead," directed by George A. Romero.

It's hard to believe that the iconic movie that inspired a whole new generation of zombie movies, not to mention Michael Jackson's excellent "Thriller" video, was thought about an independent film when it debuted in theaters on October 1, 1968. The black-and-white film was completed on a allocation of 4,000 and has since grossed over million. Just as repeated television airings made "The Wizard of Oz" a family classic, the same has happened with "Night of the Living Dead" in the forty-plus years since its debut.

Halloween Costumes

Barbra (Judith O'Dea) and her brother Johnny (Russell Streiner) drive to a cemetery in rural Pennsylvania cemetery to visit their father's grave. A opportunity encounter with a man walking with a limp sets things in request for retrial and ultimately leads Barbara to flee to a farm house where she meets "the living dead." The excellent line "They're arrival to get you Barbara" is uttered early in the movie when Johnny teases his sister over her fear of cemeteries.

Night Of The Living Dead: How One Film Changed The Face Of Halloween

Romero got his start as a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in the early '60s. He started out directing commercials, before turning his love of the macabre into a movie filmed around the Pittsburgh area. Romero formed a production business with his small group of investors called Image Ten. Props and special effects for the movie were kept simple. Filming in black-and-white had its advantages. The blood was well Bosco Chocolate Syrup. The "consumed flesh" was well entrails and roasted ham donated by a crew member who owned a butcher shop. The clothes were secondhand items found at the local Goodwill.

Even the black-and-white filming wasn't done necessarily for artistic reasons, as it turned out to be cheaper. While allocation concerns played a part in how the film was made, it is these same qualities that gave the movie the look of an old newsreel recounting events as they happened. Romero, who wrote the final script over three days in 1967, found inspiration in "I Am Legend," a 1954 novel by Richard Matheson that inspired the movie "Omega Man" and the Will Smith remake.

The influence of "Night of the Living Dead" continues today in Halloween outfits that can be purchased in shop or online and Halloween costumes made from homemade blood, guts and tattered clothes. The next time you open your door on Halloween and see zombie costumes or a fancy dress or stylish suit covered in blood, you will study the ongoing influence of this cult classic.

Night Of The Living Dead: How One Film Changed The Face Of Halloween


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