Master of Arts (MA)
When George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead was released in 1968, the independent black and white zombie film stunned American moviegoers. Having assaulted the audience with a new level of violence-laden gore, Night of the Living Dead received much attention from both popular and critical audiences, with the former rushing to theaters to see the film over and over and the latter almost universally panning the film for its poor taste and gratuitous violence. Since its release, however, Night of the Living Dead has become one of the most written about horror films in American history, with critics praising the film for its ingenuity and reviving the zombie genre and also for its treatment of American sociopolitical issues, including the most critically noted issue-the Vietnam War. Although I agree with those critics who assert that controversy over Vietnam War is raised in Night of the Living Dead (as well as are many other sociopolitical issues which are well worth exploring), the Vietnam imagery of the film has been almost exclusively analyzed at the expense of exploring what I believe is another important aspect of Night of the Living Dead- its re-inscription of blackness in the zombie film. By exploring the lineage between blackness and the zombie film, I hope to show that Night of the Living Dead is an important film to the study of blackness on the American screen not only because a black man plays the hero of the film, which was revolutionary in and of itself, but also because the film repositioned the manner in which blackness would be depicted in the American zombie film, moving away from the portrayal of black characters and black culture as exotically dangerous towards a more positive representation.
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Dotson, Jennifer Whitney, "Considering blackness in George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead: an historical exploration" (2006). LSU Master's Theses. 3108.