Do you like The Walking Dead? iZombie? Resident Evil? Hell, anything with the shambling undead in it? Well, you can trace the DNA of all of those back to George Romero’s 1968 horror masterpiece Night of the Living Dead.
It’s a film that more than lives up its lofty reputation, combining social commentary that (sadly) remains bold to this day and some genuinely terrifying zombie thrills. One of the reasons it’s so scary is that it’s shot in black and white. This was chosen primarily for budgetary reasons (the film was shot for a mere $114,000), yet it gives it an indelibly timeless, stark and brutal quality.
So, it’s fascinating to see these color behind the scenes photos from the set, which give us an idea of what things might have looked like had it not been in black and white.
Admittedly, the chilled out, friendly and summery vibe of these pictures doesn’t quite convey the oppressive zombie terror of the film itself. Indeed, one commentator on the Twitter thread says that it looks like “a wholesome Brady Bunch picnic” and another that “They’re in color! And smiling! The whole spell of the movie is ruined after seeing these!” However, it is nice to finally find out that Barbara’s dress in the film was blue (for some reason I had assumed it was yellow).
Of course, if it’s a colorized Night of the Living Dead you want, there have been repeated efforts over the last thirty years to misguidedly bring it up to date. These range from the rather clumsy attempt from Hal Roach Studios in 1986 which gave the zombies green skin to the more sensitive colorization by Legend Films in 2004. All these versions are somewhat beside the point as far as I’m concerned though, as Night of the Living Dead should be seen in black and white as God (i.e. George Romero) intended!