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DVD Review: RiffTrax – Night of the Living Dead

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What is argued by many the most terrifying horror film ever made, occasionally dubbed the greatest film of all time by critics and a personal favorite of mine becomes an utter joke, courtesy of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett of Mystery Science Theater 3000, working under the RiffTrax banner. The gags are timid and not nearly funny enough to hold interest, most of them being misfires with the occasional semi-laugh that rises out of the blue.

A group of strangers trapped in a farm house must fight flesh-eating zombies in hope that a rescue team will find them. Theory is that a satellite returning from  Venus was contaminated with radiation that could have the capacity to mutate human beings into zombies. Anyone who dies during this crisis will return as a zombie, including those who get bitten by one.

Largely overacted when reciting dialog and curiously bewildered when silent, Judith O'Dea is lost in her role as Barbra. But this lackluster actress isn't enough to undo the scares that true horror master George A. Romero accomplishes in his directorial debut. 

If you listen very carefully, the dialog creates not only an interesting film but also one that stands on its own as to what occurs during misguided fear. Rather than resorting to non-stop gore and jack-in-the-box scares, most of it relies on the viewer’s imagination and ability to picture the occurrences being explained.

Equally combining ambiance with gore, Night of the Living Dead is a groundbreaking horror film. It’s one of those rare films where you can actually feel the fear coating your inner thoughts, rather than being forced down your throat.

Although his latest work hasn’t been the best, George A. Romero has created a film that will be praised for years to come and deserves every blood-drenched bow as a courtesy from horror fans. If you haven’t seen Romero’s directorial debut Night of the Living Dead, you haven’t seen classic horror in its top form.

The tension builds rapidly at a headlong pace leading to a shocking and disturbing conclusion. After four decades, Night of the Living Dead lives up to its hype as the greatest, most frightening horror film ever made. From the hollow sound to the scratchy picture, it all makes for tacky, low-grade perfection. Something the folks of RiffTrax seem to have overlooked, constantly riffing on the sound of a cricket in the background. Maybe these three should find something more reasonable to joke about. The film is great, but the commentary can be rather annoying for lovers of this horror classic.

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RiffTrax Commentary Rating: 

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About Derek Fleek

  • Matt

    Wow. Way to miss the point. The entire purpose of this DVD is to listen to the commentary – it’s a Rifftrax release. If you’re not into that sort of thing, you shouldn’t have reviewed it. If you want the movie by itself, watch a different copy. Lighten up.