Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead ★★★★½


Fell behind on reviews during Skandies season, and this is among the most heavily analyzed movies in cinema history, so just a couple quick thoughts:

• Never consciously noticed before how crucial the music is, even though it's largely recycled from earlier sci-fi/horror cheapies. The orchestral cues now seem weirdly discordant, as this genre has all but abandoned traditional scoring; mixing in some electronic anxiety is the perfect touch. Funny, too, because I hadn't seen the film in 20 years and would have guessed, from dim memory, that its score is both sparse and wholly electronic. Had you told me what it actually sounds like, I'd likely have scoffed, or at least said "Really?" Totally works, though.

• Whole movie's deeply chilling, obviously, but the closing montage of still photos retroactively freezes the blood in a very different way. One of my favorite Black Mirror episodes, "White Bear," does something similar (one of few recent analogues I can think of), with a series of quick snippets beneath the closing credits forcing you to reconsider who's the true societal threat. In this case, I don't think the device would be half as effective without the use of stills. Combines the look of what would become the Ken Burns-style documentary with the experience of watching someone's vacation slides.

(I also wrote a little bit about the film's opening scene here; scroll down to #5.)