The 50th anniversary of Night Of The Living Dead includes a big screen 4K restoration.
Originally released in 1968, George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead became an instant classic.
Shot outside of Pittsburgh at a fraction of the cost of a Hollywood feature, by a band of filmmakers determined to make their mark, George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is one of the great stories of independent cinema: a midnight hit turned box-office smash that became one of the most influential films of all time.
A deceptively simple tale of a group of strangers trapped in a farmhouse who find themselves fending off a horde of flesh-eating ghouls newly arisen from their graves, Romero’s claustrophobic vision of a late-sixties America (literally) tearing itself apart rewrote the rules of the horror genre, combined gruesome gore with acute social commentary, and quietly broke ground by casting a black actor (Duane Jones) in the lead role.
After decades of poor-quality prints and video transfers, Night of the Living Dead can finally be seen for the immaculately crafted film that it is thanks to a new 4K restoration, scanned from the original camera negative and supervised by Romero himself. Stark, haunting, and more relevant than ever, Night of the Living Dead is back.
Night of the Living Dead was restored in 4K by the Museum of Modern Art and The Film Foundation. Funding was provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation and the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation. The restoration was overseen by George A. Romero and Image Ten, Inc.—especially Gary R. Streiner, Russell W. Streiner, and John A. Russo. The original 35 mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution by Cineric, Inc., in New York City, with audio digitization performed by Audio Mechanics in Burbank, California.
Night of Anubis. Anubis was the god of embalming or mummifying in the religion of ancient Egypt. The title was changed once George A. Romero realized that few would understand the reference.
Although Night of the Living Dead is often cited as the first modern zombie movie, the word “zombie” is never once used in the film. The most common euphemism used to describe the living dead is “those things,” said mostly by Mr. Cooper. Other characters refer to the creatures as “ghouls.”
The farmhouse used for the film was loaned to the filmmakers by its owner, who planned to demolish it anyway, effectively allowing the crew to do whatever they wanted with the building.
During the shoot, the filmmakers and crew had to live in the farmhouse for nineteen days and nights to guard cameras, lights, and other equipment, sleeping on canvas cots from an army-navy surplus store.
Costumes were cobbled together from secondhand clothing from cast members and Goodwill. Initially, the makeup was limited to whitened skin with blackened eyes, but as filming progressed, mortician’s wax was used to simulate wounds and decaying flesh.
Due to the fact that most of the film was shot at night, the sound of crickets became a problem. They were too loud not to hear under the dialogue, so they were recorded separately as ambience and added to scenes shot in the daytime so that the audio would match.
The blood seen in the film was Bosco Chocolate Syrup, while the flesh consumed by the ghouls was roasted ham.
Night of the Living Dead became one of the most successful independent movies ever made. It cost $114,000 to make (equivalent to about $800,000 in 2017), and it eventually grossed approximately $30 million (about $210 million today)—over 263 times its budget.
Despite his striking performance in the film, Duane Jones didn’t act on-screen again until 1973’s Ganja & Hess, another independent art/horror film that has since become a cult classic. Hess, misleadingly marketed as a “blaxploitation” film, was a philosophical look at the intersections of race, religion, and class through the lens of the vampire myth.