Night of the Living Dead affiche

Official theatrical poster

Night of the Living Dead
is a 1968 horror film directed by George A. Romero, the famous director notable for his "living dead" zombie films. The plot of the film follows Ben Huss, his sister Barbra, and five others, who are trapped in a rural farmhouse in Pennsylvania and attempt to survive the night while the house is being attacked by mysteriously reanimated ghouls, otherwise known as zombies. The story begins as Barbra and Johnny drive to a rural Pennsylvania cemetery to visit their father's grave. Barbra is afraid of cemeteries; Johnny teasingly frightens her by repeating the words, "They're coming to get you, Barbra!" A pale skinned man is walking with a limp around the cemetery, and Johnny remarks that he is "one of them." Annoyed by Johnny's childish behavior, Barbra goes to the man to apologize, but he grabs her. Coming to rescue his sister, Johnny wrestles with the man but is killed when he falls headfirst on a tombstone. Barbra flees, with the man in pursuit. Crashing her and Johnny's car into a tree, she flees to an empty farmhouse where she discovers the half-eaten corpse of the apparent homeowner. Frantically running out of the house, she notices several more ghoulish figures approaching the vicinity. Suddenly, a man named Ben arrives in a pickup truck, drags Barbra back inside the house, and barricades the doors and windows. Barbra frantically insists that they must go and rescue Johnny, before collapsing in apparent shock. Meanwhile, hiding in the cellar are an angry married couple, Harry and Helen Cooper, their daughter Karen, and teenage couple Tom and Judy. Ben activates a radio while Barbra awakens, believing Tom and Harry to be more of the ghouls when they emerge from the basement. Arguing with each other, Harry wants everyone to hide in the cellar but Ben deems it a "deathtrap" and remains upstairs. Tom agrees with Ben and asks for Judy to come upstairs. Harry returns to the cellar to Helen and Karen, who has fallen ill after being bitten on the arm by a ghoul. Radio reports explain that an epidemic of mass murder is sweeping across the eastern seaboard. When Ben finds a television, the emergency broadcaster reports that the recently deceased have become reanimated and are consuming the flesh of living people. Experts, scientists, and the United States military do not know the cause, though one scientist believes the cause to be radioactive contamination from a space probe that exploded in the Earth's atmosphere. After news reports provide information about local fortifications where people can take refuge, Ben devises a plan to get to the nearest sanctuary, which would provide medical care for Karen, who is barely conscious. Ben suggests they depart in the truck in which he arrived, which is low on fuel. Ben and Tom then drive the short distance to a gas pump while Harry hurls Molotov cocktails from an upper window to keep the ghouls at bay. Fearing for Tom's safety, Judy follows him. They arrive at the pump but Tom accidentally spills fuel, setting the truck ablaze. Tom and Judy attempt to get the truck away from the pump to avoid further damage but it explodes, killing them both. Ben despondently returns to the house to find Harry retreating to the cellar door, leaving Ben outside to contend with the ghouls. Angered by Harry's heartlessness, Ben kicks the door down and attacks him. Meanwhile, the ghouls approach the truck to feed on Tom and Judy's carcasses. Back in the house, a final report on the television reveals that a gunshot or heavy blow to the head will stop any ghoul and that posses of armed men are patrolling the countryside to restore order. After the ghouls attempt to break into the house, Harry, in another heartless act, grabs Ben's rifle and threatens to shoot him. Ben wrestles the gun from Harry and shoots him. The ghouls begin to tug Helen and Barbra through the windows. Dying of his wounds, Harry stumbles into the cellar to find that his daughter Karen has died from the infected bite on her arm. Helen manages to free herself from the clutches of the ghouls and goes to the cellar to find a reanimated Karen consuming Harry's flesh. Karen repeatedly and fatally stabs Helen with a cement trowel. Meanwhile, Barbra spots a reanimated Johnny among the mob of ghouls; distracted by her brother's presence, she is carried away by the horde. Karen tries to attack Ben, but he pushes her away and seals himself in the cellar—ironically, the very course of action he originally opposed. Ben shoots the reanimated Harry and Helen as they open their eyes. The next morning, Ben, the lone survivor, awakens as a posse arrives. He hears the posse and proceeds to the window, when a member of the posse, mistaking him for a ghoul, fatally shoots him in the head. Ben's body is then placed onto a burning pyre along with other dead bodies.
Night of the Living Dead

Directed by

George A. Romero

Produced by

Karl Hardman
Russell Streiner


Duane Jones
Judith O'Dea
Karl Hardman
Marilyn Eastman
Keith Wayne
Judith Ridley
Kyra Schon

Editing by

George A. Romero
John A. Russo


Image Ten
Laurel Group
Market Square Productions
Off Color Films

Distributed by

The Walter Reade Organization

Release Date

October 1, 1968

Running time

96 minutes


United States