Horrors of copyright: How Night of the Living Dead gave birth (or death) to the modern zombie genre

(image courtesy IMP Awards)

 

The Walking Dead. The Newsflesh Trilogy. World War Z. Pride Prejudice and Zombies. Resident Evil. Shaun of the Dead.

All those highwater marks (and quite a few low water marks, sensibly not mentioned, too) of the modern zombie genre would likely not exist, or at at least not in their current form, were it not for a mistake by the company that distribution George Romero’s iconic 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.

Widely recognised as the film that gave birth to modern zombie storytelling – previously zombies had been almost exclusive preserve of Haitian voodoo folkore with older movies drawing from that belief system – the film led to Romero, who died recently at the age of 77, being christened the father of zombie movies.

As Kaptain Kristian notes in his latest beautifully-produced, richly-informative video essay, Night of the Living Dead has been hugely influential in shaping how zombies are perceived by the public at large.

But its influence stems from one critically-important poor decision by the distribution company, an oversight which had huge ramifications for pretty much everyone involved and led to the huge zombie business that we know today.

 

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