Night of the Living Dead is the very first movie of George.A Romero, released in 1968.
Barbara and her brother Johnny are on the road to put some flowers on their father's grave. They are totally unaware that for the last 2 days, people who have recently died are coming back to life, and hunt humans for food. Attacked in the cemetary, Barbara is separated from her brother and runs out through the countryside till she reaches a small house. There she founds Ben, an afro-american who just escaped the nearest town, and is going to protect the house against the living dead coming for them. They will meet with Tom and Judy, a local couple, and the Cooper family, with whom tensions will rise throughout the movie.
I've cropped the movie to a Scope ratio, as opposed to the original 4/3, which looks pretty good ! I haven't layed a finger on the perfect original contrast.
For the text sreens, I used 5 different bloodstains, created some perspective by playing with blurness, and added this rotating effect to give a disturbing effect. The writing isn't the original for the good reason that it simply doesn't exist as a computer font. I however found the Danzig 4p font, which looks just like it once flattened.
There were 3 or 4 sounds that needed to be remade, because there was to much music over them, and I needed them isolated. The trailer starts with some loud noises I made by hitting my desk (!!!), followed by a sample taken from the Terminator Salvation's opening theme, with it's graves slightly accentuated. The music that follows is a song called Tostaky (le continent) preformed by Noir Désir. I thought it was appropriate with the rock'n'roll, dynamic and fun side generally attached to this kind of movies now.
This trailer was much more complicated to make than the one for Metropolis. With a movie that already had sound, I had to isolate important sentences that explained the story, and put them back together in an interesting order. I actually watched the whole movie again, noted the time-code of the important moments, and reorganized the whole thing.
Starting from a simple idea - two commercial companies deciding to join together in a movie production, and deciding for a horror movie because they are easier to sell - the movie will receive an unimaginable success, and will be the first of a whole "of the Dead" saga now counting 6 movies, this one included.
Night of the Living Dead is about racial discrimination (the main character in an afro-american), and shows us the dark side in every human being, like the neverending conflict for power, where a joined effort would be more salutary. It however completely ignores the women, which are all pathetic tarts troughout the movie. The 1990 remake will correct this.
Dawn of the Dead was more about the ability to adapt to survive, with a little touch of craziness when it comes to the bikers near the end of the movie. It's the most appreciated one, mainly because of it's improved special effects and action. It is also quite enjoyable to see these people getting everything they want from a mall without paying for any of it. There's been a remake also entitled Dawn of the Dead, with running zombies.
Day of the Dead is probably the less knowned, the most different, and to me, the best of all. It shows us that the army isn't doing much better than civilians, and is hiding in an underground bunker, with scientists they only despise, seeing zombie only as moving targets. Two of the best characters of the franchise are in this movie : Bub, an intelligent zombie which received applauses in american theaters, and Logan, aka Dr."Frankenstein", the crazy scientist. It deals with the clostrophobia resulting in a long lasting imprisonment and the growing madness which develops within the military. It also shows the first strong woman of the saga. There's been a totally forgetable remake in 2008, and an equally forgetable sequel in 2005.
Land of the Dead sees the return of the franchise after a 20 years long absence. George Romero finally has the financial needs to do what he wants. The movie is about a town, somewhat like Metropolis (really ?), where rich people live in a highly protected tower, whereas the poor, though protected by a river, live in slums and are sent to the nearby towns to find supplies. Of course, the movie is about war between the two.
At this moment, George Romero decides that these 4 movie are a whole, and Land of the Dead the end of the story. He then worked on other "of the Dead" movies starting nowadays, and in which he confessed having "changed the rules". The news saga is also a quartet :
Diary of the Dead shows the beginning of the contamination. It deals with how media manipulates information, and is filmed as a personnal documentary on these events made by the main character.
Survival of the Dead is about an island in which two groups are fighting : one wants to kill every zombie, the other wants to keep them alive until a cure or solution is found. It deals with religious obsession and the dilemma implied by eliminating contaminated relatives. It has for the first time a recurring character from a previous movie. That was impossible until now because every single movie is produced by different companies.
The two other movies could be produced as one (like Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, or Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3 were), but nothing is official at this time.
Night of the Living Dead stated a real passion for zombie movies, before it was devaluated as time went by, 'til the recent success of the Resident Evil movie. A little interesting story : Night of the Living Dead inspired the Resident Evil video game. That video game inspired a movie, and this Resident Evil movie inspired the trailer of the Land of the Dead movie, which uses one of it's song (composed by Marilyn Manson).
Night of the Living Dead had a remake in 1990. Directed by Tom Savini, co-director on Dawn of the Dead, it included a new Barbara that wasn't as dumb as the original one, in a story really truthful to the original one, with just enough difference to make it suitable for the period he was released in. Without a doubt the best remake ever !
A new remake is in production for 2010, exploiting the current appeal of 3D movies.