24 December 2012

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

          Essential plot rundown:  Being a martian sucks so they decide to kidnap Santa Claus.  I got this thinking it was going to be some cheesy, campy fun.  But it wasn't fun, not at all.

          A lot of movies are so bad that they are good, they are fun to watch.  But this one was just flat out bad; I've had more fun clipping my toenails.  There were only a few parts that that made me laugh and now I can't even remember what they were.  And one of the martians reminded me of Rob Schneider.

          Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is in the public domain, so anybody can make copies and sell it.  And the version I got was horrible; everything was basically one color.  And for only being 1 hour and 20 minutes, it felt as long as An Unexpected Journey; I was bored about 10 minutes into the movie.  But, on the plus side, it ended in a type of sing-a-long; so that was kind of cool.

This is cool, right?

          So, overall, don't watch this movie.  I personally like watching bad movies and laughing at them; but SCCtM was just painful.  Well, I guess if you're a sadist, buy this movie for some kid for Christmas and then watch their delight turn to horror.  Actually, that doesn't sound like a bad idea...

     But that's just my opinion...

19 December 2012

Dune (1984) (Theatrical Version)

          Essential plot rundown:  Young Paul Atreides must lead a planet's locals in revolt against their unjust rulers.  I recently finished reading Frank Herbert's Dune (which was a really good book, by the way) so I had to check out the movie, which I hadn't seen in a long time.

          And I would have to say that this was not a very good adaptation.  They try to jam way too much of the book into this 2 and a half hour film.  The whole thing feels very rushed.  It jumps from event to event, with no buildup or transitions.  And there is no character development at all; the film is too busy plowing through the events of the story to flesh out characters.  In fact, there are several characters that are only in one or two scenes and then never seen again; they could have easily been cut without changing the story.  The only reason they are in the movie is because they are in the book.

          The filmmakers also use a lot of voice overs, whether someone's thoughts or a narrator.  These are generally used just to explain things to the audience.  Because there is a lot going on in the book that needs to be crammed in here, I figure they thought voice overs would be the best way to keep the audience up to date.  It is a little weird hearing people's thoughts all the time.

          The SFX are also bad.  All of the compositing looks horrendous; it is completely obvious that there are two different images combined into one.  And the CGI is atrocious.  There are a few scenes wear people use a personal force field, and it looks ridiculous.  They literally look like block people.  But you don't have to take my word for it...

          But, while the FX department didn't do a good job, I give props to the art department.  The costumes and sets looked cool.  Overall, the film had an authentic, interesting look to it.  Also, the Lady Jessica, played by Francesca Annis, was attractive.  Even when she was all decked out in her weird Reverend Mother garb, she was beautiful.

And the music was pretty epic.

          There were also some changes made from the book that were a little odd.  The guy must milk a cat to survive?  When somebody uses the 'voice', they sound like demons?  The weirding way is now a glorified megaphone?  (Though, in the movie's defense, that was pretty cool to watch).

          Overall, I'd say check it out because it is kind of a classic; but don't get your hopes too high.  Too many things happen in not enough time; the acting is not too good (have I mentioned that yet?); the FX are not the best.  But, it is still worth watching.

     But that's just my opinion...

16 December 2012

The Hobbit (1977)

          Essential plot rundown:  A hobbit goes there and back again with a band of dwarves and a wizard.  I grew up watching this animated version of The Hobbit.  But, since I haven't seen it in a while, I thought I'd watch it in light of the new Peter Jackson movie.

          And needless to say, I really like this version.  I actually prefer it over An Unexpected Journey.  The film is just shy of an hour and a half, so it does movie pretty quickly; only briefly touching on important events. They are in Rivendale for about 3 minutes and with the forest elves for less than that.  So, there's not a lot of development.

          But that's ok because this movie is a lot of fun.  I love the animation style; it looks really cool.  And I think Smaug looks awesome!  I love the fur and catlike features.  To me, this is how Smaug looks; so I'm a little worried  as to what he looks like in the new trilogy.  (But sadly, Smaug doesn't do much here.  He's pretty badass when we first meet him but then his screen time ends rather quickly).  And I think Gollum looks pretty sweet too.  I just really like the look, the detail, of this movie.

          And the music is pretty cool.  When, in An Unexpected Journey, the Orcs trap our heroes in the trees, I couldn't help but imagine this song while I watched it.  I also liked the talent they got to do the voices.  I actually prefer Brother Theodore's interpretation over that of Andy Serkis.  Bilbo, Smaug, Gandalf, all great.

          So, overall this is a fun movie.  While the short running time makes for a relatively weak story, the cool animation and songs make up for it.

     But that's just my opinion...

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

          Essential plot rundown:  A hobbit goes on an unexpected journey.  So, this is arguably one of the most anticipated movies of the year, along side The Avengers and TDKR.  Expectations who pretty high for this film, and I think it disappointed a little.

          It is a good movie and definitely worth watching; but I don't think it was as good as it could have been.  And I think the problem comes in when it was made into a trilogy.  I have not read the book, but from what I understand, it's not that long.  So, the movie feels like it's being stretched thin.  There doesn't seem to be enough material for 3 movies.  Or, if you really want to make it a trilogy (cuz that kinda makes sense), don't make each movie 3 hours long; 2 hours would suffice.  The first installment is too long and kind of boring.  But, I do have high hopes for the next two movies, as we will see Smaug and the Battle of 5 Armies.

          There are also a few other complaints.  It felt like to me that there were too many CG characters.  It seems like where in LotR they had a guy in a costume, in The Hobbit they used CGI.  And the orcs here look way different than in LotR.  Like I said, I have not read any of these books; so as far as I know, there may be different types of orcs.  The orcs in The Hobbit are a lot bigger and beefier than the ones on LotR.  It had this weird disconnect for me. And the fighting sequences didn't feel very intense.  I never felt like the heroes were ever in any real danger.  But, I did like Martin Freeman as Bilbo.

          So overall, it is an ok movie.  It seems to suffer from what a lot of superhero franchises do: the first one sets up the world and characters and is kind of slow, while the other ones are more action driven.  But, it doesn't really matter what I say; if you're fans of LotR, you'll see this and if you're not, then you won't.

          Also, I saw this in 2D at 24 fps.  I'm hoping to see it in 3D at 48 fps (hfr) when I go back down to school.  (There's no place nearby that is showing it).  And when I go, I'll update this comparing the two.

     But that's just my opinion...

13 December 2012

Pacific Rim (trailer)

          I've known about this film for a while.  But, all I knew was that Guillermo del Toro was directing a movie about giant robots fighting giant aliens.  And that very much appeals to my inner 12 year old.  But, now a trailer has finally been released!!

     Watch it HERE

          And I think it looks awesome!  Growing up I loved kaiju, such as Godzilla and Mothra.  Actually, I still love that.  And I love giant robots, such as the Transformers.  So, from the get-go, this has a high level of interest.  And it is directed by del Toro.  I have only seen one of his movies, Pan's Labyrinth, and loved it; so, I'm excited for him too.

          But, one thing stood out to me and brought me down a little.  I was expecting the monsters to come from outer space.  But, they come from some crack in the bottom of the ocean?  Seams like an odd choice.  But, in the long run, that doesn't really matter.  They could come from Canada, but it wouldn't change the fact that they are giant monsters fighting giant robots.  I just like me some destruction!

          So, I'm really looking forward to this film.  Looks like a lot of fun.  And HERE is a cool little vid to introduce you to some other kaiju movies.

     But that's just my opinion...

09 December 2012

Movies: A Quadruple-Bladed Sword

Ok, this is something that I've been wanting to write about for a while, but have never gotten around to it for being lazy. But today I finally will (mainly because I'm really bored). This is mostly a response to stupid people complaining about movies. Many people don't seem to understand movies; so I feel the need to give forth my opinion.

What people fail to realize, I think, is that there are different types of movies for different reasons. But, I'm going to classify movies into two groups, each with polarizing ends. These two groups are Business vs Art and Visual vs Dramatic. So, let us begin with Business vs Art.

Probably the number one complaint I hear about movies today is the lack of originality. People always complain about the increasing number of sequels and remakes. There are seven movies in the Saw franchise and Kung-Fu Panda, at one point, had four more sequels planned. And people complain about this a lot. But, the thing they don't understand is that Hollywood is a business. They need to make money. Have you ever stayed to watch the closing credits after a movie?

I think this is from a Star Trek movie.
Do you seen all of those names there?  They all need to get paid; they are not working for free.  And the reason that Hollywood keeps making sequels/remakes is because people keep seeing them.  And if people are seeing them, then they are making money and can afford to pay the grip to put up a light.  The top 9 movies of 2011 were sequels and only 2 of the top 10 movies of all time (not judging for inflation) were not sequels.  Hollywood keeps making sequels because people keep seeing them.  It is a business.

          Then again, movies are also an art.  Some people are interested in telling new stories and doing something different.  These movies aren't meant to make billions of dollars.  And because of that, they don't need to reach the widest audience possible; thus allowing the filmmakers to do what ever they want.  And sometimes these movies don't do well at the box office; but that is ok because they are art and having deeper motives.  But yes, original movies can make lots of movie.  However, when they are dealing with billions of dollars and hundreds of workers, it can be better to stay on the safe side.

          The other forces at work on movies are the visual and the dramatic.  Literature is a dramatic form.  Paintings are a visual form.  Movies are both.  And the complaint here commonly is how such-in-such action movie had a stupid story.  And yes, I agree that all movies should at least have a decent plot; but with many of them, the story is not the most important thing.  Some movies exist mostly for their visual aspects and aren't trying to tell a story.  Movies like the Transformers franchise just want to show giant robots destroying each other; the plot is just an excuse to have them do so.  While other movies, such as 12 Angry Men, focus solely on story and less on visuals (the entire movie essentially takes place in one room).  There is a spectrum and movies can fall on either end or somewhere in the middle.  And some do find a good balance between the visual and dramatic.  But yes, all movies should have a a decent plot, but sometimes that it not the important part.  Nobody complains about the Mona Lisa not having a story.

          Like I said, not all movies are created with the same purpose in mind.  Some are created to make money, some to tell a great story and others to show us something never before seen.  So, basically, what I'm trying to say is enjoy the movie for what it is; no creation is perfect; and if you still need to complain, I would like for you to do better, make you're own damn movie and I'll tell you everything that's wrong with it.

I found this short article on movie theaters while looking for pics

     But that's just my opinion...

06 December 2012

Die Hard (1988)

          Essential plot rundown:  A cop learns the true meaning of Christmas.  Considering it is the Christmas season, I figured I better watch, what many people consider, the greatest Christmas movie of all time.

          Die Hard is a pretty awesome movie.  It is all around a good time.  The story works; the characters are like-able (except for the one, but he gets what he deserves); the pacing and action are good.  Really, the only thing that bothered me was how they used their walkie-talkies.  I'm not a doctor, but I don't think people can talk to each other at the same time on them.  But 'tis a small thing.

          However the important thing here is, Die Hard is more than your average action flick.  As all Christmas movies that come out in July do, it focuses on the real themes.  Themes such as camaraderie; forgiveness; love; and appreciating the small things, such as shoes.  It made me thankful that I own a pair.

          Overall, Die Hard is a moving action movie that reminds us of the important things in life.  Not only does it entertains, but it teaches.

     But that's just my opinion...

30 November 2012

The Guyver: Dark Hero (1994)

          Essential plot rundown:  After hearing about a "werewolf" attack, the Guyver hitchhikes to Utah to investigate.  So, let's talk about the sequel.

          This is a little better than the first.  This one is not campy and takes itself seriously.  The acting is a little better.  (Probably because they scratched all of the old actors and got new ones for the returning roles).  But, probably the biggest improvement was in the monster effects.  Here, they are a lot more articulate.  In the first one, the mouths barely moved, if at all.  But in Dark Hero, the mouths move quite a bit and were actually synchronized enough as to not be distracting; so that was cool.  And I don't know who is designing the monsters, but they are a hit or miss.  The monsters seem to either look really cool or really dumb.  And one of them reminded me of this guy:

          However, the movie was not very well paced.  It opens with a fight scene, then goes an whole hour til the next one.  Then the very last half hour is a great big long fight scene.  I was bored the first hour because nothing really interesting was happening.  And I was bored during the last half hour because the fight was too long.

          But I really like this world.  I wish Hollywood, or somebody, would revisit this material and reboot it.  I think it has a lot of potential.  There are three different anime series about the Guyver.  I guess I'll just have to watch those.

          Overall, this was a fun movie.  Better than the first, but still not without flaws.

     But that's just my opinion...

27 November 2012

The Guyver (1991)

          Essential plot rundown:  A kid stumbles upon space amor and must fight people who turn into monsters.  I watched this once a long time ago, and for some reason, I had an urge to re-watch it.  I believe it is based on either an anime or manga, but who knows?

          This movie was...entertaining.  It wasn't that great of a movie.  It felt like a weird version of Power Rangers.  The idea is pretty cool (kudos to the source material) but everything else pretty much sucks.  The acting is pretty bad.  It's only saving grace is Luke Skywalker's mustache.  It is very campy with weird sound FX and music.  It didn't seem to know whether to take itself seriously or not.  The villain has some henchmen whose outfits don't make any sense.  Also, if you are making an awesome suit of armor, why include a weakness?  And why put it in a very accessible place?  And I guess the best time to make out with the girl you like is right after she tells you her father was murdered.  (I'll keep that in mind next time).  Overall, this movie is all over the place and not very well made.

          But, to the movie's credit, it was refreshing to see actual practical effects instead of CGI.  It was cool seeing actual monster costumes.  It gave the movie a sense of realism; though, most of them were kind of dumb looking.  The Guyver looked pretty cool.  And he reminded me a little of Spawn.

          However, by far the best parts of the movie were the Robocop references.  One of the characters is played by Willard E. Pugh, who played the mayor in Robocop 2.  Also, the logo for the company Cronos Corporation looks very similar to the OCP logo.  (Though, I tried to find a picture, but could not.  You'll just have to watch them both to see).  But, the best part was this.

          So, overall this was a fun movie.  Probably more dumb than fun.  In fact, it got a little boring in parts.  But, I hear the sequel is better.  And I plan on checking out the source material.

Oh, spoiler.  Mark Hamill is not the Guyver.

     But that's just my opinion...

25 November 2012

God Bless America (2011)

          Essential plot rundown:  A man decides to go on a killing spree after getting fed up with society.  When I first heard about this film, I was super excited to see it.  I thought it looked really good because I also get tired of people and constantly want to punch them in the face.  So, I just had to see it.  And while it was good, I was a little disappointed.

          My biggest complaint was Frank's female sidekick, Roxy.  She is really annoying.  While Frank has a rhyme and reason to the people he wants to kill, Roxy just wants to kill anyone she doesn't like.  I actually thought she embodied everything that Frank was against and was surprised that he didn't kill her.

          I also thought the movie was heavy handed.  It was trying to make a point, teach a lesson, but it was not subtle about it at all.  At the beginning of the film, Frank tells his coworker about everything that is wrong with our society.  He then makes the same speech again at the end of the film.  I think it would have been better just to show him killing the people he doesn't think deserve to live:  show the people doing whatever it is that's wrong and then him killing them.  We don't need him to spell it out for us, we can figure it out.  So, I thought the whole theme of the film was handled a little clumsily.  And oddly enough, the movie wasn't as graphic as I was expecting.

          But other than that, it's a decent movie.  A little inconsistent at times, but entertaining.  The acting was good and you could totally understand (and fell sorry for) Frank.  Worth checking out if you like black comedies, though a lot of people on the internet were complaining about the politics.  But, whatever.

     But that's just my opinion...

Flight (2012)

          Essential plot rundown:  After a miraculous crash landing, the pilot falls under suspicions of being under the influence.  So, I was trying to decide whether I should see this, Argo, or Cloud Atlas when I had a dream where a fellow film student told me to see this.  So I did.

          I could not decide how much I liked this film.  I thought the beginning and the ending were both really good, but I felt the whole middle part was weak.  Flight starts off with the plan crash.  And it as amazing.  After watching it, I felt a little scared of flying again; it was terrifying.  I felt it was a powerful scene.  I also thought the ending was powerful.  Seeing Washington's character (Whitaker) in court, his decisions and their consequences were moving.  I'll admit it, I did tear up during the climax.  However, everything else was not so good.

          The whole middle part of the movie is basically Whitaker talking to his lawyers and getting ready for the hearing.  But, I never felt like there was any forward movement.  There was no character arch; I felt that he was the same character at the end was he was in the beginning.  The only thing that changed at the end was that he reached his "breaking point", for lack of a better word; but he was still the same person.  And he meets a drug addict, Nicole, and forms a relationship with her.  But her character seemed useless.  I thought that she was going to help Whitaker overcome his problems and develop as a character; but she didn't.  She's just kind of there.  Actually, she does do one thing.  Whitaker does drugs and kind of makes them look cool.  However, when Nicole is seen doing drugs, it looks nasty and not at all appealing.  So, she kind of shows the flip side to using drugs.  But thats about it.  Her character could have been removed and it probably would have played out the same.

          So, overall it was a good movie.  A strong opening and closing make up for a weak middle.  I thought the acting was good.  I always like Denzel Washington.  And I learned a little bit about mixing cocaine and alcohol; so that's always useful.

     But that's just my opinion...

18 November 2012

The Host (trailer)

          At the beginning of the year a teaser trailer came out for this and I wrote about how bad it looked.  And that trailer did make the movie look stupid.  But now, a real trailer is out and it looks considerably better.

     HERE is the new trailer.

          After watching this new trailer, I actually think this looks pretty good.  I think part of the reason is it reminds me of Animorphs, which I really like.  Animorphs is a story about parasitic aliens that take over human bodies and use them as host.  I heard somebody nay saying on this, saying it looked too much like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  But I disagree.  With IotBS, the people are completely replaced with aliens, but in The Host, the human mind is taken over by an alien.  Completely different.  At one point somebody, referring to our protagonist, says "if her will has survived, along with her memories, she may resist from within".  And that totally sounds like something from Animorphs; there are times when the alien has difficulty controlling the revolting host.  Basically I'm saying I'm interested in this film because it reminds me of Animorphs.

          So, I have high hopes for this; I hope it doesn't suck.  It looks interesting and seems like it could touch on some interesting themes.  But, we will have to wait til March.

     But that's just my opinion...

Warm Bodies (trailer)

          I guess I should have seen this coming.  With the success of Twilight and the current interest in zombies, I should have realized that they were going to make a zombie romance movie.

     Click HERE to watch some zombie loving.

          I have mixed feelings about this trailer.  On one hand, it looks pretty dumb.  A zombie being cured and becoming human because it fell in love?  Seems like a stupid idea. How would that have any affect on a zombified body?  And I feel the zombie talks too much at the beginning.  If he can construct perfectly correct sentences, why can't he remember his name?  I think his mind should be a little more zombie.

          And on the other hand, I feel it is something different.  Sure, it is the same human-falls-in-love-with-a-paranormal-creature story; but that's about it.  Maybe it is the fact that is a comedy, or the creature (not the human) is telling the story.  Whatever it is, it feels kind of fresh to me.

          So, there's that.  It looks kind of 'meh'.  I don't anticipate watching it when it comes out but I could see myself watching it eventually.  Or not.  I don't know.

     But that's just my opinion...

01 November 2012

Horror Shorts

          I wanted to post these yesterday for Halloween, but I was uber busy.  So I'm doing it now.  These are just some short films that are kind of scary/Halloweenish.

          Saw - Before Saw was made into a feature length film, the filmmakers took a scene from the script and adapted into a short film.  They then showed the film to people in order to get funding for the project.  (As for as I know).  While not gory or explicit (there is some blood though), it is pretty disturbing.

     Watch short HERE

          Meshes of the Afternoon - This is an experimental film with some pretty cool visuals.  This isn't really a horror, but it is kind of creepy.

     Click HERE to watch

          Red Riding Hood - So, I found this one some website where, I believe, anyone can create content and upload it.  But, for coming from an amateur, it is a little chilling.  The only thing is: what's up with the uncle?

     HERE it is

          Mamá - This one is being made into a feature length film.  Sometimes, when they expand shorts to feature length, it is exactly the same story; but sometimes, the short is just a springboard for the feature.  So, I don't know if watching this will spoiler the feature when it comes out.  But it's cool either way.

     Clicking HERE may or may not contain spoilers for an upcoming movie

          Dead Island - Ok, so technically, this is not a short, but a trailer for a video game.  But it also works extremely well as a short.  This is pretty damn cool.  It is a little manipulative, but it works.  And this is by far the most graphic video of the bunch.  But it's worth it.

     Watch it HERE

          And if any of these go offline, let me know and I'll repost a different link.  Or, you could just not be lazy and find it yourself.  Whatever works for you.

     But that's just my opinion   

31 October 2012

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

          So, I recently found a paper I wrote a few years ago and seeing how today is Halloween, I decided to post it.  This is an academic paper, so it will be different from my usual posts.  And it also contains spoilers.  But, if you haven't seen this yet, spoilers is the least of your problems.

9 March 2011
Film Analysis Paper #1
Night of the Living Dead
George A. Romero


When George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead premiered in 1968, it revolutionized the zombie genre. Before Romero, most movies featured zombies that were a product of voodoo.  They were usually slaves, being controlled by the person who put the curse on them (Roberts, The Zombie Movie History).  The writers at IGN.com put it this way:  “The granddaddy of the modern zombie genre...rethought what a zombie movie could be, removing the shambling creatures from the realm of voodoo...and placing them squarely in the backyard of middle-class America” (Linder).  Ever since, zombies have been depicted as undead that feast on human flesh.

By defining the rules of the zombie flick, Romero has influence all following movies of the type.  But, Night of the Living Dead was only the beginning.  Romero has since followed it with five sequels.  The first three films in the series have all been remade.  It has spawned numerous imitations.  Even after 40 years, this classic still influences everything from blockbuster movies to low budget films to video games (Linder).


          Barbra and her brother Johnny go to visit their father’s grave.  While at the cemetery, Ben and attacked and killed by a strange man, who then chases Barbra.  Barbra flees and takes refuge in an abandoned house.  She is shortly followed by another person, Ben, who also hides there.  Together they begin to board up the house, to protect themselves from her attacker, who is slowly joined by other people acting in similar ways.  Barbra and Ben are also joined by other people--The Cooper family and Tom and Judy--who have been hiding in the basement.

          They find a radio and television and discover that the people that have been surrounding the house are recently animated corpses that feed on flesh.  Fearing the undead, Harry Cooper hides his family in the basement.  The others continue to board up the house.  In an attempt to escape, Tom and Judy are killed.  Fighting over a rifle, Ben shoots Harry, who descends into the basement and dies.  Harry’s daughter, Karen, becomes a zombie and kills her own mother.  Meanwhile, Barbra sees her brother among the undead.  Taken by surprise, she is pulled into the mob of zombies.  As a last resort, Ben locks himself in the cellar, where he passes the remainder of the night.  The next day, Ben emerges from the basement and is subsequently shot and killed by a posse, who confused him for an undead.


          While looking at the formal elements, the most obvious is the use of black and white film stock.  When Night of the Living Dead was released in the 60s, most films were shot in color.  The choice to use black and white stock was not an aesthetic one, but an economical one.  According to Lee Roberts, Romero chose black and white because it was cheaper, keeping the budget down (Roberts Night of the Living Dead).  Whether he intended it or not, this choice added a great deal to the atmosphere of the film.  The lack of color emphasizes the emotions of the characters; they are scared and running out of options.

          Another important element was the use of camera angles.  Romero constantly uses a Dutch angle.  Many of the shots of Barbra running from the cemetery to the farmhouse employ this angle.  After Barbra watches her brother’s murder and is subsequently chased by his attacker, her world is turned upside down.  The dutch angle is also effectively used when Barbra tries to use the telephone to call for help and discovers that it has been disconnected.  She is trapped without a form of communication.  The unnatural tilt of the camera captures the unnatural events taking place outside the farmhouse.

          While Romero uses the Dutch angle as it is customarily used, he does the opposite with another angle--the low angle.  Normally, a low angle shot represents power and authority and a high angle conveys vulnerability.  But, Romero makes little use of the high angle shot (which would have normally heightened the character’s weakness), instead, filming many scenes from a low angle.  One particular scene has Barbra standing in front of a fireplace while Ben gathers wood to secure the house.  She is filmed from a low angle.  Normally, this angle would depict her own strength.  But, in this context, it seems more to emphasize her fear.  As Ben boards up the house, low angles are also used.  This does not focus on his power over the zombies, but rather his determination.  Rather than affirming the characters’ themselves, the low angle strengthens their emotional states.  Barbra looks more afraid from a low angle than a high one.

          Another element successfully used is the lighting.  The whole movie uses low key lighting.  This creates high contrast.  The contrast between light and dark alludes to the contention in the film.  The people in the farmhouse struggle to survive the invading zombies.  These two forces battle against each other, just as the light and dark do in the lighting.  Another contention occurs between Ben and Harry.    Ben wants to stay and fight while Harry wants to descend into the basement to hide.  The contrast between their plans is accentuated by the low key lighting.

          Low key lighting is also exploited to achieve a different effect.  When Barbra and Ben first enter the house, there are no lights on.  The house is completely black save a few blotches of light.  It is not until they have been in the house for about 10 minutes that Ben turns on the lights, eliminating the darkness.  In this first part, the blackness represents the unknown.  They do not know who the zombies are or where they came from.  Ben and Barbra do not know what they are going to do.  But, Ben eventually has an idea and turns on the lights.  He begins looking for tools to fortify the house.  Turning on the lights and eliminating the shadows symbolizes their turn of action.  Ben realizes the gravity of the situation and now knows what they must do.  He makes a plan and follows it.  This plan guides them just as the lights do.

          At the end of the film, the power goes out, throwing the house into the same darkness it was in at the beginning.  But, this time the shadows coincide with the impending doom.  Right after the lights go out, the zombies break through the boards and enter the house.  Just as the shadows surround the characters, likewise do the zombies.  This can most easily be seen in the last shot of Ben that night, before the next day.  The zombies have invaded the house and Ben has locked himself in the basement.  He is trapped; there is only one way in and one way out.  Ben is last seen crouching in the middle of the frame, with shadows on either side, occupying about two thirds of the shot.  The shadows are on the verge of collapsing on Ben.  Upstairs, the zombies are on the brink of reaching him as well.

          An additional element that is used (though to a lesser degree) to create a sense of helplessness is the use of a frame within a frame.  At first, the only connection to the outside world was the radio.  Eventually, the group finds a television set.  Now, they can watch the news and learn any updates about the events.  But, all the scientists and police are framed by the television.  They are the people who know and have the power to help.  However, by framing them in the television, they are removed one step from Ben and the group.  It distances them, placing help beyond reach.  Towards the end of the film, after the night has passed, the police and his posse are seen for the first time without the frame.  They are now close enough and able to help; although it is too late.

Personal Response

          I found this to be a really fun film.  While I enjoyed it, I also feel torn by it.  Some aspects of the film have aged quite well.  At the same time, others have not.  I thought the cinematography was quite good.  Camera angles, movement, lighting all contributed to create an effective atmosphere.  However, other aspects of the film seem outdated.  There are many instances where it cuts to the group of zombies outside.  They stand there for a split second, then they start walking.  It is almost as if the director gave them their cue one second too late.  I would assume that they would have been able to cut that first part out.  But either way, it looks a little funny and distracts from the film.  In another scene, Ben tackles a zombie and begins to punch it in the face.  But, it is obvious that he is punching off to the right, to avoid hurting the other actor.

          However, no film is perfect.  Even with its flaws, the overall film is a good watch.  Some parts are genuinely creepy; such as when the zombies eat Tom and Judy and when the Cooper girl, Karen, kills her mother.  The story is well written and the actors act as one would logically expect.  While not as fast paced or gory by today’s standards, this classic will always be a great one to watch.

Works Cited

     Roberts, Lee. "Night of the Living Dead Broke the Rules of Moviemaking." The BEST Horror Movies, For the Discerning Horror Freak... 2006. Web. 05 Mar. 2011. <http://www.best-horror-movies.com/night-of-the-living-dead.html>.

     Roberts, Lee. "The Zombie Movie History - Everything You Need to Be a Zombie Master." The BEST Horror Movies, For the Discerning Horror Freak... 2005. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. <http://www.best-horror-movies.com/zombie-movie-history.html>.

     Linder, Brian, and Scott Collura. "Top 10 Zombie Movies - Movies Feature at IGN." IGN Movies: Trailers, Movie Reviews, Pictures, Celebrities, and Interviews. 11 Feb. 2008. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. <http://movies.ign.com/articles/851/851230p2.html>.

But that's just my opinion...