Where would modern horror be without George Romero’s 1968 masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead?
Well, it’s hard to say. Perhaps another film would have come along and influenced thousands of future directors and writers. Maybe another film would have popularized zombies or mixed social commentary with horror. Perhaps another film would have popularized the concept of body horror. You never know.
Still, it’s hard not to think that modern horror would be a lot different if not for Romero’s low-budget, independent film. So many movies have been influenced by Romero’s Dead films that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. Even if you could discount the influence of Romero, what about the Living Dead films that were later made by John Russo? Even if they don’t get as much attention as Romero’s films, their combination of comedy and horror continues to be influential to this day.
The 2010 book, Night of the Living Dead: Behind The Scenes Of The Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever, not only tells the behind-the-scenes story of Night of the Living Dead but it also examines the film’s lasting influence. While the majority of the book is taken up with the production and reception of Night, it also discusses Romero’s subsequent Dead films, Russo’s Living Dead films, and all of the unofficial sequels and remakes as well. Author Joe Kane interviews not only several of the people who worked on Romero’s film but also filmmakers like Danny Boyle, who discuss how Romero’s vision influenced their own.
Finally, the book also contains the original script of Night of the Living Dead! Written by John Russo, the script makes for an interesting read. Night of the Living Dead is often described as being some sort of “accidental” masterpiece but the script reveals that many of the film’s themes were there from the beginning. At the same time, it also makes you appreciate not only the directorial skill of George Romero but also the performances of Judith O’Dea, Duane C. Jones, and even Karl Hardmann. (If you thought Harry was bad in Night, reading the script will show you just how much Hardmann actually humanized an inherently unlikable character.)
This book is must have for horror fans like you and me.