BFI Classics: Night Of The Living Dead

Author: Ben Harvey

Now a large franchise, but back then a small-time indie flick that turned new corners and presented us with a different take on zombies, this book starts way back in 1971 with the author attending a screening of the film. For a consumer, Night of the Living Dead‘s true moment of impact usually happens upon first viewing. And like any event that has a huge impact on you, you remember the time, the place and the social atmosphere of the time around you. Ben Harvey clearly has a love for this film, and the knowledge to share on the impact of it at the time. He also covers its continual playing at midnight screenings and the accumulation of ticket sales over the years – retaining its position as perhaps the most successful independent film out there.

The cultural impact of the film has grown over the decades and Harvey’s text gives us a scene-by-scene deconstruction with glimpses of political and social commentary (Vietnam) but also pop culture (magazine and print). He also note the sequels and Romero’s other works.

The BFI and Palgrave have in their long-running series cleverly picked the writers that are commissioned to write these books. The system only ever seems to fall down when writers merely regurgitate the plot of the film at you with weak commentary, but this is seldom the case. And this coverage of Night of the Living Dead is another worthy addition to the bookshelf.

Steven Hurst

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