Night of the Living Dead (1968) is a seminal horror film directed by George A. Romero which was to transfigure the horror-movie genre. The plot is simple and familiar to viewers even casually acquainted with the genre: the dead come to life and start attacking the living in order to feed upon their flesh. It was filmed in Evans City, Pennsylvania.
Although a low budget film (it cost around $114,000 to produce) and helmed by a first-time director, the film is considered a horror classic by many film critics, and placed #93 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Thrills. It was shot in black and white, and employed such innovative cost saving special effects as using chocolate syrup as cinema blood.
The film comments slyly on racism in the United States and reverses a number of stereotypes. Perhaps the most sympathetic character is a young black man who takes refuge within a farm house.
Followed by two sequels; Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985). In 1999 the original film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Night of the Living Dead was remade in 1990 by director Tom Savini. In the later version, the "hero" of the piece is a woman. Although the character of the African American male is included, he is not the centerpiece of the plot.
In 1998, a modified "30th Anniversary Edition" was released. It had new scenes inserted, which were directed by the movie's Producer/Co-writer, John A. Russo. It also had a new soundtrack, written by Scott Vladimir Licina, whose character (a mentally unstable priest) was the focus of many of the new scenes. The new edition was generally hated by fans and non-fans alike, the general criticisms being that the new scenes didn't fit into the movie, and that the soundtrack damaged the film's overall mood. The new edition had a relatively short sales-life, and quickly vanished.
Return of the Living Dead was a satirical take on the subject matter.