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Night of the Living Dead Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 16 & under

Oft-copied zombie classic is still intense and gory.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this was once considered the ultimate in gruesome horror, with its ghastly premise of armies of undead "ghouls" devouring and infecting the living. One of the zombies is a little girl who ends up killing her parents. The movie is claustrophobic and intense, with one of the most famously pessimistic endings in movie history. Though later cannibal-zombie movies pushed gore-makeup effects to extremes, this one is relatively restrained -- except for the Anchor Bay "Anniversary" edition that adds more severe carnage that was filmed later and edited in (along with the character of a nasty priest).

  • Families can talk about the mistake the survivors make in their defense strategy against the ghouls; their self-interest and egotism divides them (the zombies, on the other hand, have no such problems). You can also discuss with movie-buff kids why this was such a success on the horror market. Do you think it was because a premise this frightful had never been brought to the screen before? Or was it skillful filmmaking? What examples do you see in today's horror movies of filmmakers pushing the envelope? Do you believe (like some critics) that the movie is trying to make a social point? Or do you agree with the filmmakers, that it's just a scary movie?

The good stuff
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    Messages: Though the actors and filmmakers denied a sociopolitical agenda behind their horror show, there's a strong vibe here of organized civilization breaking down. The non-cooperation and selfish rivalries among the few survivors in the barricaded house causes more casualties. The positive portrayal of a strong, take-charge African-American lead was way ahead of its time -- too bad not many viewers noticed, amidst the chills.

What to watch for
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    Violence: The ghouls can only be stopped, infamously, by being shot in the brain or beaten severely around the head. Others are set on fire. There is biting, dismemberment, and cannibalism. Often it's more suggested than shown (the sequels and imitations didn't hold anything back), but the "Anniversary Edition" adds some serious gore. Some fistfights and gunshots among the living.

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    Sex: Not applicable

  • language false0

    Language: No problem, surprisingly.

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    Consumerism: At least these flesh-eating zombies don't sell out.

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    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not applicable