When George A. Romero decided to direct a zombie movie on a $114,000 budget in 1968, little did he know that he would also be launching a career for himself as a horror director, not to mention an entire film genre, one still popular today.

While 'Night of the Living Dead' wasn't the first zombie film, it's the first to posit the zombie-as-army theme, which has been revisited time and again (most recently in the excellent 'Zombieland') since. Whereas prior to 'NOTLD' zombies generally did their dirty deeds solo, Romero envisioned a narcoverse in which the undeadheads worked en masse if not in concert, kind of like the New Jersey Nets. When George A. Romero decided to direct a zombie movie on a $114,000 budget in 1968, little did he know that he would also be launching a career for himself as a horror director, not to mention an entire film genre, one still popular today.

While 'Night of the Living Dead' wasn't the first zombie film, it's the first to posit the zombie-as-army theme, which has been revisited time and again (most recently in the excellent 'Zombieland') since. Whereas prior to 'NOTLD' zombies generally did their dirty deeds solo, Romero envisioned a narcoverse in which the undeadheads worked en masse if not in concert, kind of like the New Jersey Nets.

Interestingly, Romero admits to having drawn inspiration for his screenplay from the Richard Matheson novel 'I Am Legend,' which would be adapted for the screen on three occasions, in 'The Last Man on Earth,' 'The Omega Man' and 2007's 'I Am Legend,' starring Will Smith.

The plot is simple: A small band of disparate humans find themselves trapped together inside a farmhouse, forced to battle a pack of marauding zombies attempting to get in. While the initial and most obvious threat to the group comes from the "ghouls" on the outside, another one, just as dangerous, winds up being posed from demons within.

Although it was shot in black and white with hand held cameras and is backed with stock music, the cheesiness of the production actually works to its benefit, upping the creepy ante considerably. Dark, grainy and at once unsettling, 'NOTLD' has the look and feel of old police accident footage or a live-action version of a Weegee photograph.

Not surprisingly 'NOTLD' was met with a flurry of controversy upon its release. While some reviewers read subversive context into the film, others decried its gory visuals (modestly campy by today's standards) as obscene. Nevertheless, the film would go on to gross $30 million internationally, become a cultural touchstone in American cinema and forever go missing from video store shelves during Halloween week each year.

Before you head to your local multiplex to catch the latest zombie flick, do yourself a favor and check out the granddaddy of them all, 'Night of the Living Dead.' Oh, and try not to focus on the fact that the blood is actually chocolate syrup.

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