Frequently dubbed the best zombie movie ever, Night of the Living Dead is very good. I wouldn’t call it great, though.
Writer/Director George Romero and co-writer John Russo wisely focus on character, showing us possible responses to a zombie apocalypse.
One of the film’s issues, however, is that none of the characters develop beyond archetype. As one example, Ben (Duane Jones) is always a take-charge leader type. Never more. Never less.
Another issue: the women. I know film reflects the era and culture in which it is made, so I’m not surprised to see the Night of the Living Dead’s females be weak, emotionally scarred, stupid or a combination thereof. After all, that’s how many people stereotyped women in the 1960s. Still, while I’m not surprised, I don’t like it. I know writers and directors of the era were capable of crafting realistic female characters, and I wish these had done so.
Moreover, the way Romero and Russo present new characters or plot relevant items is oft a bit too sudden.
Lastly, some of the performances are lacking.
For all of that, Night of the Living Dead is still good. It builds suspense well.
It is lit beautifully, a fact that helps increase the movie’s sense of dread.
It is paced well.
Best of all: it has the courage to end events logically and to force characters to make difficult choices.
Is this the best zombie movie I’ve ever seen? I don’t know. But I do know it is worth viewing, flaws and all.