The shuffling zombie with one arm outstretched – he got his start here on George Romero’s groundbreaking horror flick of rampaging zombies and a citizenry that holes up in the hopes of keeping them at bay. The cause for this zombification is typically priceless, courtesy of the Cold War: Radiation from a fallen satellite.
Romero does great work with no money to spend — though the film is quite repetitious and the mindless zombies move so slowly that any half-brained human ought to easily outrun and outmaneuver them. Nonetheless, many humans find themselves outwitted… and the film (along with the very similar Invasion of the Body Snatchers films) has inspired countless imitators and odes, including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and pretty much any other "We’re trapped!" horror flick. Followed by two sequels (the first of which many regard as the best of the series).
The new "Millennium Edition" DVD (produced by quality horror distributor Elite) goes a long way toward redeeming the film for its much-maligned "30th Anniversary Edition," produced only 3 years ago (produced by some cut-rate horror production company) and guilty of savagely re-editing, re-scoring, and generally screwing up a classic. This disc is done right, with a stellar transfer and fabulous Dolby 5.1 sound, plus a ton of extras, including two star-studded commentary tracks. Dig a little deeper for a couple of real gems – the short film Night of the Living Bread and scenes from Romero’s creepy, "lost" film, There’s Always Vanilla.
Highly recommended. Followed by Dawn of the Dead.
Review by Christopher Null © 2001 filmcritic.com