I was a teenager when George Romero's Night of the Living Dead appeared on MTV one Halloween. To say it was life-changing is an understatement.
Night of the Living Dead's reputation precedes it. It is the first zombie movie to feature what we think of as zombies today: the flesh-eaters chomping on entrails whose bite will infect the living and turn them into zombies. It all comes from Romero's micro-budget movie. Its premise of a small group of people trapped in an abandoned farmhouse by hordes of the living dead is familiar, even elemental, to modern audiences. And yet, time has diminished none of its power. It's the first horror movie with a genuinely modern sensibility, from the dysfunction of institutions to the nightmarish ending...and the heightened level of gore. Yes, Herschell Gordon Lewis pioneered the splatter movie, but Romero gave it the social consciousness vital to Dead's longevity.
Do you have a favorite zombie movie? Let me know in the comments.
Derek Austin Johnson has lived most of his life in the Lone Star State. His work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Rayguns Over Texas!, Horror U.S.A.: Texas, Campfire Macabre, The Dread Machine, and Generation X-ed.
He lives in Central Texas.