Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Night of the Living Dead (1968)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

In George Romero's raw and uncompromising low-budget midnight movie about flesh-eating zombies:

  • the opening memorable and haunting scene, set around 8 pm on a Sunday evening (with thunder and lightning threatening), as two bickering siblings, Johnny Blair (Russell Streiner) and his sister Barbra (Judith O'Dea) arrived after their annual three-hour trek from Pittsburgh in a two-door Pontiac to visit their father's grave in an abandoned, rural western Pennsylvania cemetery
  • Johnny's recollections of their childhood play when he recalled scaring Barbra in the same location when they were younger: "Do you remember one time when we were small, we were out here? It was from right over there. I jumped out at you from behind the tree, and grandpa got all excited, and he shook his fist at me, and he said, 'Boy, you'll be damned to hell.' Hah! Remember that? Right over there. Well, you used to really be scared here...Well, you're still afraid'
Johnny Teasing Barbra: "They're coming to get you, Barbra"
Attack of a Real Zombie Upon Barbra
  • the repetition of their child's play when Johnny joked and teased Barbra using a Boris Karloff-like (or Vincent Price) voice: "They're coming to get you, Barbra... They're coming for you, Barbra...They're coming for you. Look, there comes one of them now"; Barbra took the prank seriously (she angrily reprimanded him: "You're acting like a child!") - when suddenly a staggering, stumbling, pale-faced zombie figure (S. William Heinzman) looking like a drunk vagrant in a disheveled suit approached and then actually attacked Barbra - when Johnny came to her defense, he was killed as they struggled and he fell and his head struck a tombstone, while Barbra watched in horror
  • the zombie's pursuit of Barbra, who was forced to abandon her crashed car and race to a nearby, isolated, and empty two-story farmhouse for refuge; inside after grabbing a butcher knife, she noticed an additional army of ravenous, trance-like zombies approaching the outside of the house; she discovered a half-eaten, partially-mutilated body of a female at the top of the stairs
  • the horrific sequence of a horde of crazed, lurching, flesh-eating zombies surrounding the old farmhouse and terrorizing survivors, including the traumatized Barbra and smart black hero Ben (Duane Jones), who had come to her rescue; he swiftly barricaded the doors and windows
  • the radio news report that an "epidemic of mass murder" was being committed by a virtual army of unidentified assassins with no apparent pattern or reason for the slayings - it was a "sudden general explosion of mass homicide"; further ghastly reports were that murder victims were being devoured by their murderers ("the killers are eating the flesh of the people they murder")
  • the discovery of other survivors hiding in the home's cellar: loud-mouth, obnoxious and domineering husband Harry Cooper (producer Karl Hardman), teenaged Tom (Keith Wayne), Tom's pretty girlfriend Judy (Judith Ridley), Harry's wife Helen Cooper (Marilyn Eastman) and their injured, zombie-bitten ill daughter Karen Cooper (Kyra Schon)
  • the jump-out-of-your-seat moment when Ben walked by a partially-boarded up window in the kitchen and hands suddenly reached out to grab at him
  • the emergence of dozens of zombies, including one nude female from the morgue with a burial tag still attached to her left wrist, and another reanimated female who ate a squirming worm off a tree trunk
Zombies Approaching Farmhouse
  • the failed escape attempt when Tom and Judy tried to fuel Ben's pickup truck at an outdoor gas pump, and the truck exploded in flames, killing them inside; afterwards, the cannibalistic zombies ate their charred remains, including entrails, body parts, internal organs and bone fragments
  • the words of local redneck Sheriff McClelland (George Kosana) on TV on how to eliminate the zombies: "A ghoul can be killed by a shot in the head or a heavy blow to the skull...Kill the brain and you kill the ghoul"
  • the series of murders: first, the lethal shooting of Harry in the abdomen by Ben, after which zombie-bitten young daughter Karen, now reanimated as a "living dead" zombie, consumed her father's corpse in the cellar, and Karen also stabbed her traumatized mother Helen to death with a garden trowel, and afterwards ate her
  • the further "undead" attack and murder of Barbra by her own zombified brother Johnny who dragged her off into the horde of hungry zombies, who had invaded the farmhouse; meanwhile, Ben was forced to shoot and kill the reanimating corpses of both Harry and Helen
  • in the shocking last scene - the tragic and mistaken shooting of Ben by one of the 'search and rescue' vigilantes, believing he was a zombie; the sole surviving black man was shot in the forehead as he stood near a window in the farmhouse living room (Sheriff McClelland: "Hit him in the head, right between the eyes. Good shot. OK, he's dead. Let's go get him. That's another one for the fire")
Downbeat Ending
Posse Sniper Murdered Ben - His Body Was Added to Pyre of Other Zombie Bodies
  • the ending credits sequence: Ben's body was dragged from the house with a meat hook and burned in a pyre of other zombie bodies (in a series of still frame shots), as the downbeat film ended hopelessly

Opening Cemetery Sequence

Johnny Killed as He Tried to Defend Barbra

Graveyard Zombie

Half-Eaten Female in Farmhouse

Jump-Scare: Hands Reached In Window

Failed Escape Attempt: Exploding Truck Killed Tom and Judy

Cannibalistic Zombies Ate Charred Remains

Karen Consuming Father's Corpse

Zombie Karen's Brutal Matricide

Zombified Brother Johnny's Murder of Sister Barbra


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