No Mere Mortal Can Resist the Evil of the Thriller: Thriller (1983)

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And though you fight to stay alive, your body starts to shiver. For no mere mortal can resist the evil of the thriller.

So I know you are probably thinking, a music video? That’s not a horror film.

Majorly

This music video is almost 14 mins and a recommended length for a short film, by the New York Film Academy, is 10-15 mins. That makes this “music video” a short film, and perfect for our countdown.

It was directed by John Landis, most known for his film An American Werewolf in London, and he made the film because he wanted to bring back the theatrical short, you know the short film before the movie. Like Pixar and Disney used to do.

“I saw it as a chance to resurrect a genre that had once been a Hollywood staple. Music videos were new in 1983, and MTV was just two years old.”

They even tried to get an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Live Action, but the Academy didn’t have the same love for it as the rest of the world did. However in 2009 it was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being the first music video in history to receive that honor.

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It takes place in the 1950s and starts off with Michael and his date (Ola Ray) are driving and the car runs out of gas. They get out to walk through the creepy forest:

Stay out of the forest!

Stay out of the forest!

Michael wears a red letterman that looks a lot like a certain jacket from a certain horror film:

He asks his date to be his girlfriend, and she agrees him giving her a ring to symbolize it.

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How sweet.

But then he warns her:

Michael: There’s something I’ve got to tell you.

Michael’s Girl: Yes, Michael?

Michael: I’m not like other guys.

Michael’s Girl: Of course you’re not. That’s why I love you.

Michael: No, I mean I’m different.

Michael’s Girl: What are you talking about?

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Nothing good is going to come of this.

And then the moon comes out:

attack Wolf Boy Meets World moon full moon night

And he changes into a Werecat!

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And the makeup is pretty creepy. You can thank Rick Baker for that. Even though CGI is probably cheaper, I love seeing what people were able to make with such limited supplies and technology. It is unbelievable.

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Back to the video. So Michael the werecat os chasing his date through the forest. Run girl, run!

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Just as the werecat is about to grab her, we cut to a movie theater. Yes this is a film that Michael and his girlfriend are watching.

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Michael loves the film but his date (Ola Ray) is not into horror films. Such a pity.

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She walks out and Michael, being a good date, follows. As they are outside the music starts up and we get those perfect lyrics that are impossible to hate.

It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking
In the dark
Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops
Your heart
You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before
You make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between
The eyes
You’re paralyzed

Now at first this is Michael just joking around with his girlfriend, teasing her. But it will soon change.

You hear the door slam and realize there’s nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand and wonder if you’ll ever see the sun
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination
But all the while you hear the creature creepin’up behind
You’re out of time

I like how in his dance Michael Jackson throws in a Frankenstein monster move and hints at famous “thrillers”.

Frankenstein

Night creatures call
And the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There’s no escapin’ the jaws of the alien this time (they’re open wide)
This is the end of your life

They’re out to get you, there’s demons closing in on every side
They will possess you unless you change the number on your dial
Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together
All thru the night I’ll save you from the terrors on the screen,
I’ll make you see

Now in this scene it is very apparent that they are taking there time walking home in not the best conditions. There are no streetlights and a ton of fog. You know what’s coming, something bad.

I'm getting shivers

I’m getting shivers

And then we have the best thing in the world. Just as Michael and his girlfriend go by the cemetery, we hear Vincent Price’s voice. Bringing us:

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And then things begin to rise in the graveyard.

Night of the living dead zombie

Darkness falls across the land
The midnite hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’awl’s neighbourhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell

It’s funny to think that this music video never would have had such an amazing voice in it, I mean aside from Michael Jackson, if it wasn’t for writer Rod Temperton’s wife, Peggy Lipton. Temperton had wanted talking at one part and needed a classic horror actor to give the music the edge he desired. Lipton was a good friend of Price, asked him and he agreed.

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So the rest of the dead are waking up; out of every grave, tomb, and casket.

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The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller
Can you dig it?!

And of course, they head after Michael.

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They are surrounded! Oh no! Michael’s girlfriend looks to Michael for help, but it is too late:

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AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then we have one of the most engaging dances ever to be created/performed.

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They actually had to think long and hard how to create the scene where they dance that wasn’t childish or silly, but kept to the mood of the previous scenes; and I have to say they accomplished it. In fact, before Landis agreed to direct, he made it mandatory that all extras spend two weeks in rehearsals with the choreographer; something that had never been done before. This dance has been such a big part of our culture from Thrill Around the World to being referenced in numerous films and TV shows.

‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night
And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike
You know it’s thriller, thriller night
You’re fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

That it’s a thriller, thriller night
‘Cause I can thrill you more than any ghost would dare to try
Girl, this is thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight and share a killer, diller, chiller
Thriller here tonight

Michael’s date is horrified and runs into a creepy old house, with the zombies surrounding her on every side. Very Night of the Living Dead.

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Too bad she doesn’t have a Ben to save her as they start destroying the house to get her.

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Michael grabs her and bam. It turns out they are just in a home, Michael isn’t a zombie….Or is he? We close on Vincent Price’s amazing laugh with  frozen still of Michael’s yellow werecat eyes.

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That was Michael Jackson’s Thriller and it is amazing. From the song, to Jackson, to Price, to Ray, to the dancing, the makeup- I could go on and on but it is just perfect. I mean it gives you everything you want

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Plus a fun dance to do. Check it out for yourself!

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To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

For the previous post, go to Every Three Thousand Years, the Stars Align. Unleashing an Army of Monsters: TMNT (2007)

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For more on Michael Jackson, go to Haunted Harmonies of Halloween: Top 5 Songs to Play on Halloween

For more Vincent Price, go to A Man Without a Face: The Bat (1959)

For more zombies, go to Those Aren’t Men They Are the Living Dead: White Zombie (1932)

For more music reviews, go to Shook Me All Night Long

For more ’80s music, go to Back in Black

For more ’80s films, go to I’ll Be Back: The Terminator (1984)

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Those Aren’t Men They Are the Living Dead: White Zombie (1932)

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We could have been killed. Worse than that we could have been caught. 

By those men?  Those aren’t men they are the living dead!

So zombie films have been extremely popular the last few years, they have encountered many changes; but they all owe it to this movie. Yes this is the first full length feature film about Zombies. Instead of biting or disease; this man makes Zombies through Voodoo, poison, drugs, and his eyes!

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I first became aware of this film when I watched 50 Greatest Horror Classics Collection. I know that I have been reviewing films I didn’t like these past few days, so here we go with one I do.

Now one things that this film doesn’t really do, is explain exactly how he does the zombie-fying and mind control. This was explained in the sequel, Revolt of the Zombies (1936)

This film has a very interesting background. The film was thought lost until found in the 1960s, there it went a serious court battle as multiple people fought for ownership.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

It only took eleven days to film but it was such a hit when it premiered. It did so well, that Lugosi regretted taking a salary instead of a percentage.

Vat have I done?

Vat have I done?

Well I think that is enough talking about it, shall we move on to the review?

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So the film starts off with a young couple, Neil Parker and his fiancé Madeline Short. They have just arrived in the West Indies. Neil has a job out there and went for Madeline. They planned to marry as soon as they touched the port, but they meet Charles Beaumont who presented them with a better job offer, and they are headed to his house and to be married tonight.

If only they knew what was coming.

If only they knew what was coming.

As they are driving in the buggy, they come upon a funeral in the middle of the road.

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It sounds strange, but they do that so people don’t dig them up and use them with voodoo, or turn them into zombies, the living dead.

TheDead

Then “Murder” Legendre, Bela Lugosi, come upon them with his group of Zombies. He steals Madeline’s scarf, and stares at her with his creepy eyes.

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The driver, fearful, takes off at the speed of light.

“Neil Parker: We could have been killed.

Driver: Worse than that we could have been caught!

Madeline Short: By those men?

Driver: Those aren’t men they are the living dead. Zombies!

The driver warns them they should leave, but the couple are suspicious of zombies actually existing. Yet at the at the same time:

Gilmore girls creep

They are startled when they come upon the minister, having arrived at the Beaumont mansion for their wedding. They ask about zombies, and the minister, Dr. Bruner,  says he has been a missionary there for over thirty years and he has seen a lot of strange things occur.

Hmm...

Hmm…

 

They tell Dr. Bruner about what happened, meeting Beaumont on the boat, the job, etc. The Dr. thinks this is very odd.

Something strange is going on

Something strange is going on

This Beaumont they describe is nothing like the selfish, pushy, take over man that he knows. Everything about their situation smells bad, and he warns the couple to leave as soon as possible.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

 

That makes TWO warnings! They need to leave!

And run fast

And run fast

When the couple arrives, Mr. Beaumont doesn’t want to see them.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

But then he changes his mind.

Okay this behavior means that there is something else going on here with Beaumont.

Certified Creepo Ribbon

The butler agrees it is for the best to approach them as the minister is questioning why Beaumont is being so kind. He greets them but then has to leave while everyone prepares for the upcoming wedding.

Madeline is getting ready when she looks out the window and sees Beaumont get into a buggy with a man. When we zoom there, the man is emotionless, glazed over, dead eyes, a zombie!

Night of the living dead zombie

Mr. Beaumont reaches a work area and sees 20 or 30 of these same walking dead. All empty eyed, slaves, and ZOMBIES!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Legendre greets Mr. Beaumont and puts out his hand, but is ignored as Beaumont sees him as “beneath” him. Legendre then explains about his little operation: about how the dead don’t care about long hours, breaks, food, money, etc. He tries to sell the idea to Beaumont, but business is not on his mind. Instead his mind is on Madeleine.

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He desperate to have her and is trying to get Legendre to stop the wedding. He thinks that if he took her away for a while she would change her mind. But Legendre does not think that will work, women will not forget so soon.

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Beaumont pleads with him to do something, anything!

Martin: Aren't you ashamed now? Aren't you? Spiders now, is it? Flies ain't good enough! Renfield: Flies? Flies? Poor puny things! Who wants to eat flies? Martin: You do, you loony! Renfield: Not when I can get nice fat spiders! Martin: All right, have it your own way

I must have her!

Legendre says that he has one way to do it..all Beaumont has to do is give her a tiny bit of this potion in her drink or on a flower and it will enable him to have what he desires.

Jekyll&Hydedrink potion

Beaumont doesn’t want to do it that way but Legendre tells him that is impossible, there is no other choice.

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That might Madeline is getting ready for her wedding, the church is all decorated. Mr. Beaumont walks her down the aisle pleading with her to marry him instead of her fiancé. Madeline kindly refuses.

See ya!

See ya!

He promises to stop, after one last thing, giving her a rose. Madeline accepts, but little does she know that rose has been tainted with poison and will bring only death!

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Madeline takes the hand of her love and the ceremony to twine them begins, but out in the courtyard Legendre lurks getting ready his magic.

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He takes the scarf he stole from her earlier, and wraps it around a wax candle. He looks like the devil with his beard and eyebrows.

Creepy!

Creepy!

He carves the wax candle, quickly creating the figure of a woman. And then he stares with his eyes…

WhiteZombie

They all toast and are happy.

Neil Parker [Jokingly to Madeline] “Gypsy read my fortune.”

She looks into his cup and says “i see happiness, love, I see…” But then she sees Lugosi, with fiery demon eyes in her cup…

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AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She then says “I see death”

Immediately she falls down, and we see Lugosi’s eyes, knowing he is controlling her body and spirit.

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A funeral is held and Madeline is to be buried.

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Neil goes to a bar to drink, upset, heartbroken and seeing her everywhere. All are happy while he is the one in utter misfortune.

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Her apparition appears to him, but he can’t reach her.

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That night Beaumont and Legendre are in the graveyard and they see zombies! Legendre isn’t surprised as they are his slaves. Many have fought against his spells, but Legendre overpowered them all and controls them.

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The zombies remove Madeline’s casket from the tomb. Just then they hear her husband, drunk, trying to approach the tomb screaming out her name. The zombies quickly take her away to conduct the ceremony elsewhere.

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Neil finds the grave empty and is distraught.

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Dr. Bruner explains that there are two ways this could happen.

  1. Her bones were taken away to be used in a ceremony by some natives on the island.
  2. Or she is not dead.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

Neil is in shock! Not dead? But he saw her! The doctor said!

Whattheheck

The minster agrees but he has seen so many strange things on the island, it could be possible!

suspicious Hmm

Neil thinks the idea of her being murdered so someone can steal her body is ridiculous. But then Dr. Bruner tries to explain that she isn’t really dead, but instead a type of parlor trick with drugs to make her appear dead.

WOW

WOW

But Neil doesn’t listen.

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Come on, LISTEN TO THIS MAN! If you had in the beginning you never would have gotten in this mess.

Seriously

Seriously

So Dr. Bruner explains about a type of drug that produces a deathlike sleep, only to have them “awaken later” and be a zombie, one of the “living dead. I knew about this as I had seen it before in The Four Feathers, and read about how historically some witch doctors would do this. Because of that, I figured out a majority of Sherlock Holmes (2009).

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They figure out that Beaumont must be the one behind this. Neil wants to take him to the authorities, but the minister reminds him they have no proof. Besides she died. No one would believe Beaumont pretended to kill her.

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Beaumont has what he wanted and has desired or does he? He has the beautiful body of Madeline but something is missing from her. Her spirit.

She is an empty tomb, a shell of who she was, and it is driving Beaumont crazy!!!

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He gives her the finest things money can buy, all that she could desire, but nothing changes in her eyes or look. Beaumont realizes his mistake and that he made a bad decision. He thought that just having her would be enough, but in reality he has nothing.

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Beaumont begs Legendre to bring Madeline back. Legendre warns that Madeline won’t be happy as he just tried to control her. In fact she will most likely be furious. But Beaumont doesn’t care, he needs her. Legendre promises to bring her back and then the two have a toast. Don’t drink, it is a trap!!!!

After the drink, Lugosi reveals that he has done the same to Beaumont which he did to Madeline. He does not want to bring her back, as he has other plans for her,ones that Beaumont might not agree to.

OMG gasp

Beaumont tries to get his butler to help him, but it is too late, he is under Legendre’s control as well.

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The zombies come and carry the butler away, tossing him off the cliff, and all that is left is Beaumont and Legendre.

Dr. Bruner takes Neil to see the witch doctor.

Whattheheck

Weird, right? He’s a minister. Doesn’t that go against what he represents?

Anyways, there they pick up a guide to take them up the mountain and to where Beaumont is housing Madeline. But Neil won’t listen.

That guy

That guy

Neil is trying to climb up the mountain but isn’t doing too well, he’s sick from a tropical disease or hangover.

Anyways, as they continue, you hear the vulture, the pet of Legendre; looming overhead, always watching. It reminds me of Maleficent’s bird in Sleeping Beauty.

Not gulls but you understand the feeling.

Neil and Dr, Bruner argue over whether he should climb the mountain, Dr. Bruner thinking he is too sick too. Then they see Madeline looking over the balcony.

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Neli calls out to Madeline hoping to reach her, but she still remains in her zombie state.

Beaumont has completely had a breakdown. No longer the powerful one, he too appears in a trance, the guilt of everything weighing down on him.

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Legendre gave him a special type of poison, he is awake but in a trance and can’t talk, can’t move, a slave and awake inside knowing what he is going through and feeling it.

The shots and angles of this are beautiful. From framing Lugosi in the cross architecture, the stairs, etc. There is some beautiful, early, cinematography at play here.

So Lugosi sees Neil creeping up the stairs, but he is not really looking like a threat, as he is practically unconscious. Lugosi takes his hands and tries to work his spells on him, with his eyes, the third eye.

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Madeliene wakes up from her bed and in a trance begins ro walk down thestairs. Searching, searching for what?

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Madeline being framed in a cross architecture while wearing cross on her dress is almost a virginal sacrifice. Beaumont sees Madeline and wants to help but has no control over his body. She takes a knife from the table.

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Legendre wants her to stab her husband Neil. She approaches him and is about to stab him when she stops. Something has come over her and she is unsure, but then Legendre’s eyes they call, her to do it,

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She is just about to stab Neil when she is stopped by a person grabbing her arm and removing the knife.

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A person dressed in black, who is it?

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Legendre continues to try and control her but it does not work. She runs and Neil chases after her.

She runs to the hillside and looks over the water about to jump but stopped by Neil. He is happy to have her but Madeline remains motionless. Legendre comes followed by his zombie army.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Neil has a gun and shoots at the zombies but it doesn’t stop them or produce blood, as they are already dead.

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The minster was the man in black! He smacks Lugosi in the head stopping him. All his zombies throw themselves over the cliff, as control is momentarily lost and they wish to remain dead! Madeline wakes up, the control has ended.

Double double yay

And all is good.

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But no Legendre awakens, he is not one to be easily thwarted and begins to exact his control.

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Neil and the minster chase after  him, but are stopped when he throws some magic dust, burning their eyes.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Beaumont creeps dow the steps, and we only see his shadow. He knocks Legendre over the cliff, his vulture/spirit guide thing going too.

Madeline is awaken and reunited with her love.

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And the bride and groom get to go off and have their honeymoon.

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A great film. You should definitely check it out.

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To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

For the previous post, go to What I Think You Will Think…You are Fully Under My Control: Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)

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For more zombie brides, go to He’s Married to a Corpse. He Has A Corpse Bride!: Corpse Bride (2005)

For more Bela Lugosi, go to I Bid You Welcome: Dracula (1931)

For more zombie films, go to Say Something Human: Warm Bodies (2013)

For more on The 50 Greatest Horror Classics, go to A Man Without a Face: The Bat (1959)

They’re Coming To Get You Barbara: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

 

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 They’re coming for you, Barbara! 

This is an amazing film! George A. Romero is truly an amazing screenplay writer and director.

I actually saw the sequel first, Return of the Living Dead, which I also loved. It wasn’t as creepy as this one, but still was very good. The rest of the sequels were stupid though, so don’t waste you time with them.

One of the things that makes this film so revolutionary and a cult classic is that it is one of the first films about zombies to depict them as actual living dead and not mind control, like in White Zombie or Revolt of the Zombies. It also has the zombies being created by radiation instead of controlled by the third eye.

I also love how the zombies are true zombies and not any of these super soldiers they make them to be now. The zombies are living dead, so they move slow as their flesh is rotting. They also are destroyed by by fire or a shot to the head.

It’s a great zombie film!

So the film starts out with Barbara and her brother Johnny going to a cemetery to put flowers on their father’s grave. While they are there, Johnny starts teasing his sister; trying to freak her out. He sees a man approaching and pretends that it is a “ghoul” after her.

It turns out the man is a zombie and he starts to attack her. Johnny tries to help her, but hits his head on a gravestone. Barbara runs away, and holes up in a farmhouse.

Now Barbara is freaked out, but she was pretty awesome in searching out for a knife to protect herself. She ends up being joined by Ben, who stopped at the house when his car runs out of gas.

Ben is pretty awesome as he is a super survivalist. By this time Barbara is pretty much incoherent as she has gone into complete shock.

They are later joined by others trying to escape these attacks. The film switches from being just a horror film, to being one of survival. We see what everyone’s true characters are as they show how they act in intense situations.

The movie is fantastic and has a completely unexpected ending.

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You’d all love it! Watch this after you’ve seen the film.

That’s it for this fearsome Friday! More posts to come! 5 days ’till Halloween!

Here’s a poster/cover photo I made for my facebook as part of my Halloween countdown

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To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to From the Sea Burning With Fire

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For more on zombies, go to When Potatoes Go Bad

For more on monster movies, go to I Want Friend Like Me

For more films that spanned sequels, go to Someone Very Special