George A. RomeroUSA96 minutes1968B&WEnglish
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When the recently deceased suddenly come back to life with a hunger for human flesh, a young woman, Barbara (Judith O'Dea), takes refuge in a farmhouse where a small group has barricaded itself against the zombie onslaught. Led by the resourceful Ben (Duane Jones), the group struggles to survive as the shuffling hordes of the undead attack their hiding place. While many films since have surpassed the original Living Dead in explicitness (if not impact) of violence, few have ever had a conclusion so desolate, nihilistic and unsettling; the bleak final moments are as difficult to shake off today as they undoubtedly were on the film's debut. "One of the most remarkable and audacious achievements of modern American cinema, and the most uncompromising critique of contemporary America (and, by extension, Western capitalist society in general) that is possible within the terms and conditions of a 'popular entertainment' medium" (Robin Wood); "Over its short, furious course, the picture violates so many strong taboos — cannibalism, incest, necrophilia — that it leaves audiences giddy and hysterical" (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader).