"Their coming to get you Barbara." are the famous lines, that always remain in my mind after seeing the first of the DEAD TRILOGY and they won't leave because this film has a very impacting story line, that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the most unexpected jaw dropping ending. For those who aren't familiar with this movie, it's the BLAIR WITCH of the 60's, created by George A. Romero, then a college student under a shoe string budget and his partner, John Russo, who co-wrote the script with him and produced.
It only seemed right that this film would set the standard for modern horror films with it's gory sequences(tame to modern standards), which then they also had no MPAA so the film went as planned and was followed by two more sequels, without Russo, who went onto make RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.
THE BOOK BY JOHN A. RUSSO
Let me first state, that if your looking for a copy of this book. Check EBAY.COM, that's where I found both NIGHT and DAWN. Now, onto the review...initially, going into this novel adaptation by Russo I was expecting a bland, rehash of the film but instead what I found was a deeper understanding of the characters and some very indepth writing.
What this book amounts to is an smooth and carefully written adaptation by Russo, the co-writer of the original film, but also a intervening and haunting look at the film. Russo on numerous occasions uses the narrative to really explain what we didn't see on screen and allows for a very vivid verison of the tale, even though many of us have already seen in on film numerous times.
KNOWN FACTS: Printed once upon the release of the film, republished again in the seventies, somewhere around the release of DAWN OF THE DEAD and released again in eighties.
This is a copy of the 1980s reprint released through Pocket Fiction.
Another reprint in the 1980s. I believe this edition was released to coincide with the release of 1989 remake of the film.
Quotes from Night of the Living Dead (Millennium Edition):
Scientist: Kill the brain, and you kill the ghoul.
TV Reporter: All law enforcement agencies and the military have been organized to search out and destroy the marauding ghouls. The Survival Command Center at the Pentagon has disclosed that a ghoul can be killed by a shot in the head, or a heavy blow to the skull. Officials are quoted as explaining that since the brain of a ghoul has been activated by the radiation, the plan is kill the brain, and you kill the ghoul.
Field Reporter: Are they slow-moving, chief?
Sheriff McClelland: Yeah, they're dead. They're all messed up.
Field Reporter: Chief, if I were surrounded by eight or ten of these things, would I stand a chance with them?
Sheriff McClelland: Well, there's no problem. If you have a gun, shoot 'em in the head. That's a sure way to kill 'em. If you don't, get yourself a club or a torch. Beat 'em or burn 'em. They go up pretty easy.
Johnny: They're coming to get you, Barbara!
Johnny (in a creepy voice): They're coming to get you, Barbara!
Barbara: Stop it! You're ignorant!
Johnny: They're coming for you, Barbara!
Barbara: Stop it! You're acting like a child!
Points to the cemetery zombie.
Barbara: He'll hear you!
Johnny: Here he comes now! I'm getting out of here!
Ben: Now get the hell down in the cellar. You can be the boss down there, I'm boss up here.
Ben: How long have guys you been down there? I could have used some help up here!
Harry Cooper: That's the cellar. It's the safest place.
Ben: You mean you didn't hear the racket I was making up here?
Harry Cooper: How were we supposed to know what was going on? Could have been those things for all we knew!
Ben: That girl was screaming. Surely you know what a girl screaming sounds like. Those things don't make any noise. Anybody would know somebody needed help!
Tommy: Look, it's kind of hard to know what's going on from down there.
Harry Cooper: We thought we could hear screams, but for all we knew, that have meant those things were in the house after her.
Ben: And you wouldn't come up here and help?
Tommy: Well, if there were more of them...
Harry Cooper: That racket sounded like the place was being ripped apart. How were we supposed to know what was going on?
Ben: Now wait a minute. You just got finished saying you couldn't hear anything down there. Now you say it sounded like the place was being ripped apart. It would be nice if you get your story straight, man.
Harry Cooper: All right, now you tell me! I'm not gonna take that kind of a chance when we've got a safe place! We lock into a safe place, and you're telling us we gotta risk our lives just because somebody might need help, huh?
Ben: Yeah, something like that.
Television Reporter: It has been established that persons who have recently died have been returning to life and committing acts of murder. A widespread investigation of funeral homes, morgues, and hospitals has concluded that the unburied dead have been returning to life and seeking human victims. It's hard for us here to be reporting this to you, but it does seem to be a fact.
Ben: Don't you know what's goin' on out there? This is no Sunday School picnic!
Ben: They know we're in here now.
Radio Announcer: Because of the obvious threat to untold numbers of citizens due to the crisis that is even now developing, this radio station will remain on the air day and night. This station and hundreds of other radio and TV stations throughout this part of the country are pooling their resources through an emergency network hook-up to keep you informed of all developments. At this hour, we repeat, these are the facts as we know them. There is an epidemic of mass murder being committed by a virtual army of unidentified assassins. The murders are taking place in villages and cities, in rural homes and suburbs with no apparent pattern nor reason for the slayings. It seems to be a sudden general explosion of mass homicide. We have some descriptions of the assassins. Eyewitnesses say they are ordinary-looking people. Some say they appear to be in a kind of trance. Others describe them as being misshapen monsters. At this point, there's no really authentic way for us to say who or what to look for and guard yourself against. Reaction of law enforcement officials is one of complete bewilderment at this hour. Police and sheriff's deputies and emergency ambulances are literally deluded with calls for help. The scene can be best described as mayhem. The mayors of Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and Miami, along with the governments of several eastern and midwestern states indicated that the National Guard may be mobilized at any moment, but that has not happened as yet. The main advice news reporters have been able to get from official sources is to tell private citizens to stay inside their homes behind locked doors. Do not venture outside for any reason until the nature of this crisis has been determined, and until we can advise what course of action to take. Keep listening to radio and TV for special instructions as this crisis develops further. Thousands of office and factory workers are being urged to stay at their places of employment, not to make any attempt to get to their homes. However, in spite of this urging and warning, streets and highways are packed with frantic people trying to reach their families or, apparently, to flee just anywhere. We repeat, the safest course of action at this time is simply to stay where you are. Ladies and gentlemen, we've just received word that the President has called a meeting of his Cabinet to deal with the sudden epidemic of murder that has seized the eastern third of this nation. The meeting is scheduled to convene within the hour. Members of the Presidential Cabinet will be joined by officials of the FBI and military advisors. White House spokesmen are saying there will be an official announcement immediately following that meeting. This is the latest dispatch just received in our news room. The latest word also - this is from nation press services in Washington, D.C. - tells us that the emergency Presidential conference which we just mentioned will include high-ranking scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. So far, the best advice they are able to give the public is this quote from Chief T. K. Dunbar from Camden, North Carolina, who is quoted as saying, "Tell the people for God's sake to get off the streets! Tell them to go home and lock their windows and doors up tight! We don't know what kind of murder-happy characters we have here!" Chief Dunbar's words were worn out in grisly fashion just hours ago near the small, normally peaceful town of Willard, Pennsylvania, where the driver of a tanker truck was mobbed by a cluster of apparently would-be assassins oblivious to all concerns for their own safety and blindly intent on attacking the driver. The tanker trunk went out of control and plowed into the gas pumps at a well-known eatery and truck stop known as Beakman's. The truck and gas pumps caught on fire and exploded, apparently maiming and killing gas station and restaurant employees, together with a dozen or more patrons, motorists, and pedestrians. Several bodies were found mangled and mutilated. Many others appear to have been carried off by the attackers. Eyewitness accounts described the assassins as ordinary-looking people, misshapen monsters, people who look like they're in a trance, and creatures that look like people but behave like animals. Some tell of seeing victims that looked as if they had been torn apart. This whole ghastly story began developing two days ago, and from that point on, these terrible events kept on snowballing in a reign of terror that has not abated. Military personel and law enforcement agencies have been working hard in an attempt to gain some kind of control of this situation, but most of their efforts have been marginally futile up to this particular time.
Washington Scientist: Everything is being done that can be done.
Sheriff McClelland: Good shot! OK, he's dead, that's another one for the fire.
Karen Cooper: I hurt.
To Harry Cooper after having been locked outside
Ben: I ought to drag you out there and FEED you to those things!
Ben: You know a place back down the road called Beakman's? Beakman's Diner? Anyhow, that's where I found that truck I have out there. There's a radio in teh truck. I jumped in to listen, when a big gasoline truck came screaming right across the road! There must've been ten, fifteen of those things chasing after it, grabbing and holding on. Now, I didn't see them at first. I could just see that the truck was moving in a funny way. Those things were catching up to it. Truck went right across the road. I slammed on my breaks to keep from hitting it myself. It went right through the guard rail! I guess - guess the driver must've cut off the road into that gas station by Beakman's Diner. It went right through the billboard, ripped over a gas pump, and never stopped moving! By now it was like a moving bonfire! Didn't know if the truck was going to explode or what. I still hear the man - screaming. These things, just backing away from it! I looked back at the diner to see if - if there was anyone there who could help me... that's when I noticed that the entire place had been encircled. There wasn't a sign of life left, except... By now, there were no more screams. I realized that I was alone, with fifty or sixty of those things just - standing there, staring at me! I started to drive, I - I just plowed right through them! They didn't move! They didn't run, or - they just stood there, staring at me! I just wanted to crush them! And they scattered through the air, like bugs.
Johnny: There's nothing wrong with the radio. Must've been the station.
Helen Cooper: We may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn't going to solve anything.
Barbara: Johnny has the keys...
Harry Cooper sees the zombies eating the flesh of the late Tommy and Julie.
Harry Cooper: Good Lord!
Harry Cooper: Helen! I have to get that gun!
Helen Cooper: Haven't you had ENOUGH?
Harry Cooper: Look, two people are already dead on account of that guy! Take a look out that window!
Darlene Davies: So you don't think they'll find some kind of virus, or germ?
Reverend John Hicks: No. Those creatures were demons, creatures of Satan inhabiting the bodies of our dead. And the demons are still loose in this world, and the dead must be spiked.
Darlene Davies: Spiked? I don't know what you mean.
Reverend John Hicks: Spiked, as the hands of Jesus were spiked to the cross! SPIKE the dead to prevent them from rising again before Judgment Day! All sinners must repent and the dead must be spiked! Heed the Word of the Lord, or the dead will rise again possessed by demons, and ye who are unclean shall be damned forever and ever in eternal fire!
Ben: I'm telling you they can't get IN here!
Harry Cooper: And I'm telling you they turned over our car! We were damn lucky to get away at all! Now you're telling me these things can't get through a lousy pile of wood?
Pause as lightning is seen
Barbara: I haven't seen you in church lately.
Johnny (laughs): Well, there's not much sense in my going to church.
Sheriff McClelland: Boy, somebody had a cookout here.
Vince: Yeah, it sure looks like it, Tom.
Sheriff McClelland: Put that thing all away on the fire! We don't want it getting up again!
Harry Cooper: Did you hear me when I told you they turned over our car?
Ben: Oh, hell! Any good five men could do that!
Harry Cooper: That's my point! There's not going to be five, or even ten! There's going to be twenty, thirty, maybe a hundred of those things, and as soon as they find out we're here, this place'll be crawling with them!
Ben: Well, if there's that much, they'll probably get us wherever we are.
Sheriff McClelland: Where'd you get the coffee?
Field Reporter: One of the volunteers. You're doing all the work, you take it.
Sheriff McClelland: Thank you.
Dr. Grimes: In the cold room at the University, we had a cadaver, a cadaver from which all limbs had been amputated. Some time early this morning, it opened its eyes and began to move its trunk. It was dead, but it opened its eyes and tried to move!
Tom has just brought Judy up from the basement.
Harry Cooper: You gonna let them get her too, huh?
Reverend John Hicks: This is like the flood that happened during Noah's time, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah! We ARE being punished for our sins! The dead are rising, and Judgment Day is upon us!
Barbara: Don't you understand? My brother is alone!
Ben: Your brother is dead.
Barbara: NO! My brother is NOT dead!
Radio Announcer: Civil defense officials in Cumberland have told newsmen that murder victims show evidence of having been partially devoured by their murderers. Consistent reports from witnesses to the effect that people who acted as if they were in a kind of trance were killing and eating their victims prompted authorities to examine the bodies of some of the victims. Medical authorities in Cumberland have concluded that in all cases, the killers are eating the flesh of the people they kill. And so this incredible story becomes more ghastly with each report. It's difficult to imagine such a thing actually happening, but these are the reports we have been receiving and passing on to you, reports which have been verified as completely as is possible in this confused situation.
TV Reporter: All persons who die during this crisis from whatever cause will come back to life to seek human victims, unless their bodies are first disposed of by cremation.
Ben looks at him.
Harry Cooper: I don't want anyone's life on my hands.
Helen Cooper: Is there anything I can do...?
Ben: I don't wanna hear any more from you, Mister! If you stay up here, you take orders from ME! And that includes leaving the girl alone!
TV Reporter: Reports, incredible as they may seem, are not the results of mass hysteria.
Harry Cooper: "Mass hysteria!" What do they think, we're imagining all this?
Ben: Shut up!
Harry Cooper: Look! You two can do whatever you like! I'm going back down to the cellar, and you'd better decide! 'Cause I'm gonna board up that door, and I'm not going to unlock it again no matter what happens!
Tom: Now wait a minute, Mr. Cooper.
Harry Cooper: NO, I'm not going to wait! I've made my decision, now you make yours!
Tom: Now WAIT a minute! Let's think about this! We can make it to the cellar if we have to! And if we do decide to stay down there, we'll need some things from up here! So let's at LEAST consider this a while!
Sheriff McClelland: Alright, Vince. Hit him in the head, right between the eyes.
Johnny: Do you remember one time when we were small, we were out here? It was from right over there, I jumped out at you from behind the tree, and Grandpa got all excited, and he shook his fist at me and said, "Boy, you'll be damned to Hell!" (Laughs.) Remember that? Right over there. Boy, you used to really be scared here.
Johnny: You're still afraid!
Barbara: Stop it, now! I mean it!
Johnny holds up a cross-shaped wreath Barbara bought for their father's grave.
Johnny: Look at this thing. "We Still Remember"? I don't! You know, I don't even remember what the man looks like!
Barbara: Johnny, it takes you five minutes.
Johnny: Yeah, five minutes to put the wreath on the grave and six hours to drive back and forth. Mother wants to remember, so we trot two hundred miles into the country and she stays at home.
Barbara: Well, we're here John, all right?
Trivia about Night of the Living Dead (Millennium Edition):
- Other blood is actually Bosco chocolate syrup.
- During the filming of the cemetery sequence, shot on two separate days, an unexpected accident caused a fast change of script. The car driven by Barbara and Johnny into the cemetery was actually owned by Russel Streiner's mother. Unfortunately, sometime between the two shootings, somebody ran into the car and put a dent in it that would easily be visible on camera. George Romero rewrote the scene so the car would come to a stop crashing into a tree.
- In the scene where Ben is nailing wooden boards to the door, small numbers can be seen on them. These were written on the backs of the boards so they could be removed and replaced in between shots, preserving continuity. Some numbers are visible because some of the boards were nailed on backwards.
- Savini, Tom was originally hired by Romero, George A. to do the makeup effects for this film. The two were first introduced when Savini auditioned for an acting role in an earlier film that never got off the ground. Romero, remembering that Savini was also a makeup artist (he had brought his makeup portfolio to show to Romero at the audition), called Savini to the set of his horror movie. However, Savini was unable to do the effects, as he was called to duty by the U.S. Army to serve as a combat photographer in Vietnam.
- First horror film to have an African-American playing a lead role (Jones, Duane).
- Bill Cardille, who played the television reporter, was indeed a local Pittsburgh TV celebrity. Known as "Chilly Billy" Cardille, he hosted a horror movie program on Channel 11 and occasionally reported the news.
- Columbia Pictures was the only major Hollywood studio interested in distributing this film, but eventually passed because it was in black-and-white film at a time when movies had to compete with new color televisions. Ironically, Columbia did distribute the 1990 color remake.
- Hinzman, S. William and Hardman, Karl, two of the original investors had small roles due to a shortage of available talent. Another investor was a butcher, who provided some blood and guts.
- Actor/Co-producer Hardman, Karl (Harry Cooper, the father in the basement), also served as makeup artist, electronic sound effects engineer, and took the still photos used for the closing credits.
- The extras who played the zombies were payed $1 and a t-shirt that said "I was a zombie on Night of the Living Dead".
- During production, the film's title was still being chosen. The working title was simply "Monster Flick".
- The character of "Ben" was originally supposed to be a crude but resourceful truck driver. After Duane Jones gave an audition for the part, director and co-writer George A. Romero re-wrote the part to fit his performance.
- Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls (1962) had a big influence on The Night of the Living Dead, and George A. Romero readily admits it.
- The main house did not have a true basement but a dirt, "potter's" cellar and thus, had no long staircase to it. The basement scenes were filmed in the editing studio cellar.
- The word "zombie" is never used.
- In the 30th Anniversary Edition, the car which drops Debbie Rochon off at the medical center is driven by Marilyn Eastman (Helen Cooper) and owned by Karl Hardman (Harry Cooper).
- The music used in the film was from a Capitol Records Hi-Q stock music library, and cost $1,500 for release.
- One of the Walter Reade Organization's publicity stunts was a ,000 insurance policy against anyone dying from a heart attack while watching the film.
- The film's world premiere was at the Fulton Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 1 October 1968 (At 8PM, admission by invitation only). The film was met with a standing ovation.
- The only true mishap noted by the filmmakers during filming involved producer and actor Russ Streiner's ("Johnny") brother, Gary. After the scene where Duane Jones sets the chair on fire, it was Gary's responsibility to extinguish the flames and set it ablaze again to preserve continuity, ensuring that smoke would be seen emanating from it near the end of the film. At one point, Gary's sleeve caught on fire, and as he ran in terror, S. William Hinzman (in full zombie makeup) tackled him to the ground and helped extinguish the flames, saving him from major injury.
- George A. Romero was the one operating the camera when S. William Hinzman (the cemetery zombie) attacks Barbara in her car. When Hinzman shattered the window, the rock barely missed Romero.
- Some of the groans made by S. William Hinzman when he's wrestling with Russ Streiner in the cemetery are authentic. During the struggle, Streiner accidentally kneed Hinzman in the groin.
- The Evans City Cemetery was the cemetery used in the original version of the film, but it could not be used for the 30th anniversary edition. Before filming the new footage, a tornado had torn through the Evans City Cemetery, and ironically, it unearthed several graves.
- The Chevrolet truck seen in the new footage is not the same one seen in the original footage. The filmmakers for the new footage were fortunate enough to find a truck bearing an near-perfect resemblance to the original being driven by a local resident, who was kind enough to let them borrow it for the film.
- During the filming of the new footage for the 30th anniversary edition, actor/composer Scott Vladimir Licina ("Reverend John Hicks") suffered a heat stroke in the cemetery and was hospitalized for a few days.
- The house used for "Night of the Living Dead" was lent to the filmmakers by the owner, who planned to demolish it anyway, thereby giving them rights to do whatever they wanted to do to the house.
- There were two trucks used in the film. The first one used in the beginning of the film would not start for the "trek to the gas pump" scenes and had to be replaced. Unfortunately, they forgot to break the headlights. Hence the goof on the headlights.