For many, “Night of the Living Dead,” was a political film, which served as an icon of the late ‘60s counterculture. Critics and audiences found numerous parallels between images in the film and images from the news broadcasts at the time.
Dogs attack Civil Rights protester in Birmingham, AL, 1963. Dogs hunt zombies in “Night of the Living Dead.”
Police shoot down zombies in “Night of the Living Dead.” Police shoot at civilians during race rebellion in Newark, NJ, 1967.
US Forces take Vietnamese prisoner, 1968. Civilian posse “seek and destroy the marauding ghouls,” in “Night of the Living Dead.”
Duane Jones, an African American actor, was cast in the lead role of “Ben” in “Night of the Living Dead.”
“Birth of the Living Dead” places this choice, a radical one in 1967, in the spectrum of how African
American characters were portrayed in films before and after.
Sidney Poitier with Tony Curtis in “The Defiant Ones,” (1958). // Duane Jones as “Ben” in “Night of the Living Dead.” // Fred Williamson in “Boss N**ger,” (1975).
“Night of the Living Dead” was shown at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street, New York City, in
1968 and at the Adams Theatre in Newark, NJ in the 1970s.
Bill Hinzman, who played the “Graveyard Zombie” in “Night of the Living Dead,” at the 2007 Monroeville Mall Zombie Walk. The Monroeville Mall, in PA, was also the location where “Dawn of the Dead,” the sequel to “Night of the Living Dead,” was shot.
“BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD” INTERVIEWS
George A. Romero, Filmmaker
1968’s Night of the Living Dead was just the beginning of George A. Romero’s enduring contributions to American film. Over the next 40+ years, he has written and directed several dozen movies. Especially noteworthy among his films are: The Crazies (1973); Martin (1978); Knightriders (1981) and Creepshow (1982), which are still exhibited in film festivals and prestigious venues throughout the country. The films for which Romero attained international and lasting acclaim include those that introduced an unprepared world to a zombie apocalypse — Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985) Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2009) and Surviving of the Dead (2010). Currently, Romero is Executive Producer of the 2012 documentary, Into the Dark: Exploring Horror Films. In 2009, Romero was honored with the Mastermind Award at Spike TV’s Scream 2009. The tribute was presented by longtime Romero fan Quentin Tarantino, who stated in his speech that the “A” in George A. Romero stood for “A f***ing genius.”
Mark Harris, Author
Mark Harris is the author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood (2008), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the year and Booklist magazine’s best nonfiction book of 2008. For fifteen years, Harris worked as a writer and editor covering movies, television and books for Entertainment Weekly, where he now writes the back page column, “Final Cut.” He has written about pop culture for several other magazines as well. A graduate of Yale University, he lives in New York City with his husband, playwright/screenwriter Tony Kushner.
Larry Fessenden, Filmmaker
Larry Fessenden, winner of the 1997 Someone to Watch Spirit Award, is the writer, director and editor of the award-winning art-horror movies Habit (Nominated for 2 Spirit Awards), Wendigo and No Telling. His most recent film, The Last Winter (Nominated for a 2007 Gotham Award for best ensemble cast), starring Ron Perlman, Connie Britton and James Le Gros, premiered at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, was distributed by IFC FirstTake and is now available on DVD through Genius Products. Fessenden recently directed Skin and Bones, starring Doug Jones, for NBC TV’s horror anthology show FEAR ITSELF.
Gale Anne Hurd, Producer
Gale Anne Hurd joined New World Pictures as executive assistant to Roger Corman the company president. She worked her way up through various administrative positions and eventually became involved in production. She formed her own production company, Pacific Western Productions, in 1982 and went on to produce a number of box-office hits including The Terminator (1984), and Aliens (1986). In 1998, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. She is currently Executive Producing the AMC drama series The Walking Dead. In 2003, she was awarded the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology at Telluride, Colorado along with Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
Elvis Mitchell, Host, The Treatment.
Elvis Mitchell is a former critic for The New York Times (1998 – 2004). In the late 1980s, Mitchell was part of a short-lived PBS show called The Edge. Mitchell is currently the host of KCRW’s pop culture and film interview program The Treatment. He is also an occasional film critic/commentator for Weekend Edition on NPR. In 2008, Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence began airing on Turner Classic Movies. On the program Mitchell interviews actors and directors about their favorite classic films.
Sam Pollard, Filmmaker/Professor, NYU Film
Sam Pollard’s professional accomplishments as a feature film and television video editor, and documentary producer/director span almost thirty years. He recently served as Executive Producer on the documentary Brother Outsider, Official Selection 2003 Sundance Film Festival. His first assignment as a documentary producer came in 1989 for Henry Hampton’s Blackside production Eyes On The Prize II: America at the Racial Crosswords. For one of his episodes in this series he received an Emmy. Eight years later, he returned to Blackside as Co-Executive Producer/Producer of Hampton’s last documentary series I’ll Make Me A World: Stories of African-American Artists and Community. For the series, Mr. Pollard received The George Peabody Award. Between 1990 and 2000, Mr. Pollard edited a number of Spike Lee’s films: Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers, Bamboozled. As well, Mr. Pollard and Mr. Lee co-produced a couple of documentary productions for the small and big screen: Spike Lee Presents Mike Tyson, a biographical sketch for HBO for which Mr. Pollard received an Emmy, and Four Little Girls, a feature-length documentary about the 1965 Birmingham church bombings which was nominated for an Academy Award.
Chiz Schultz, Film and TV Producer
Chiz Schultz has more than thirty years’ experience producing motion pictures and live, taped and filmed television programs. His productions have won the ACE Award, Peabody Award, International Documentary Association Award, New York Film & Television Award, San Francisco International Film Award and the Ohio State University Award. His productions have received Academy Awards, EMMY and ACE nominations. Among his many credits is the Academy Award winning film, A Soldier’s Story.
Jason Zinoman, Critic
Jason Zinoman is a critic and reporter for The New York Times. He is currently the paper’s first comedy critic, and has covered theater there for a decade. His book Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood and Invented Modern Horror is now out in paperback. He has also regularly written about movies, television, books and sports for publications such as Vanity Fair, The Guardian and Slate. He was the chief theater critic forTime Out New York before leaving to write the On Stage and Off column in the Weekend section of the New York Times.
Illustrations for “Year of the Living Dead” by Gary Pullin.