Living Dead (1968 franchise)

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A catch-all page for George Romero's original "Living Dead" movies, including Night of the Living Dead (1968), and their countless prequels, sequels, clones, and parodies....

Film List

George Romero, creator of the "Living Dead" franchise, surrounded by ghouls....
  • the "proto-Zombie" films:
  • the George Romero films:
    • Night of the Living Dead (1968)
    • Dawn of the Dead (1978)
    • Day of the Dead (1985)
    • Land of the Dead (2005)
    • Diary of the Dead (2007)
    • Land of the Dead (2007)
    • Survival of the Dead (2009)
  • the remakes:
    • Night of the Living Dead (1990)
    • Dawn of the Dead (2004)
    • Day of the Dead (2008)
    • Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection (2012)
    • Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn (2015)
    • Day of the Dead: Bloodlines (2018)
    • Night of the Living Dead: Genesis (in production)
  • the generally well-received "Return of the Living Dead" parody series:
    • Return of the Living Dead (1985)
    • Return of the Living Dead II (1988)
    • Return of the Living Dead III (1993)
    • Children of the Living Dead (2001)
    • Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005)
    • Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)
  • the well-received parody/homages:
  • the wildly popular TV series, video game, and film franchises:
    • The Walking Dead (2010) and Fear the Walking Dead franchise
    • the black comedy series IZombie (2015)
    • the SyFy Channel black comedy take on the genre Z-Nation (2014)
    • the 28 Days/Weeks/Months Later film franchise (2002)
    • Resident Evil film franchise (2002)
    • REC film franchise (2007)
    • Quarantine film franchise (2008)
  • innumerable unauthorized sequels (generally Italian or Spanish) and clones, including:
    • the Spanish Blind Dead movies (1972), a collection of movies about undead Knights Templar
    • the Italian Zombi movies (1979) - a loosely-connected group of often unrelated movies shoehorned into a series for marketing purposes, e.g. Zombi 3 AKA Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror (1981), Zombie Holocaust AKA Zombi 9 (1980)
    • Hell of the Living Dead AKA Night of the Zombies (1980)
    • Nightmare City (1980)
    • Black Demons AKA Demoni 3 (1991)
    • Day of the Dead: Contagium (2005)
    • Night of the Living Dead: 3D (2006)
    • Night of the Living Dead: 3D: Reanimation (2012)
    • Dance of the Dead (2008)
    • Zone of the Dead (2009)
    • Ghosts of Mars (2001 film)
    • The Plague (2006 film)
    • I Am Legend (2007)
    • World War Z (2013)
    • Rebirth (2018)
    • Zombies (2018)

See the Wikipedia page (List of Zombie Films) for a more extensive list....


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: various, generally R (Violence, and frequently Profanity, Adult Content, Nudity, Sexual Situations, etc.)

Most kids today are probably familiar with the basic "Zombie Movie" premise and have probably seen many of these films, but the majority of movies in the prolific subgenre tend toward exploitation film's use of extreme violence and gore, with an (un)healthy dose of nihilistic sex, and few entries are "kid-friendly" by default.

Lovecraftian Analysis and Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

Generally, these movies are not particularly Lovecraftian, though they do seem to have descended from a combination of Lovecraft's version of Ghouls (see "Pickman's Model (fiction)") and Lovecraft's "Herbert West: Reanimator (fiction)", represent a popular example of a post-human world with a bleak and hopeless ending, and could, perhaps, be considered a prototypical Cthulhu End Times scenario.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • (review needed)

Synopsis (SPOILERS)

The typical plot for a living dead movie is that for any of a variety of barely-described reasons (ranging from some mysterious influence brought back from space by a crashed space probe, to biological/chemical/radiological weapons gone wrong, to medical experiments, to "just because they can"), the dead begin to rise as flesh-eating ghouls, forcing a band of people - often but not necessarily young strangers - to work together to survive against the shambling hordes, only to have cooperation break down and the bickering group of survivors turn on each other even as the dead overrun their defenses. Very frequently, the survivors build very flawed mini-dystopias (such as the famous example of a group of survivors thriving in a department store that fulfills all their needs in Dawn of the Dead), only to have things disintegrate both from within due to various conflicts of interest, as well as without not only from the living dead, but also from rival dystopias of competing survivors, often savage and bloodthirsty gangs of thieves who seem better suited for survival in this nihilistic setting than anyone else except the dead themselves. Few of these movies end on a bright note, and the most famous examples tend to have a bleak "oops, everyone's dead now" kind of ending.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Typically, "the Z-word" is never mentioned by characters, who sometimes use euphemisms instead; generally speaking, the more likely a "Zombie" story is to use the word "zombie", the less serious it tends to take the subject matter.
  • Strictly speaking, the creatures are rarely (if ever) Zombies (undead servants raised up under the control of a "bokor", "zombie master", or mad scientist to serve as slaves or super-soldiers), but rather a form of flesh-eating Ghoul, though other options are also possible (often demonic possession, crazed/enraged and rabid living plague victims, bodies used as puppets by alien invaders or even "pod people", etc.)
  • A prototype for the modern "zombie" movie, The Day of the Triffids (fiction), actually uses alien flesh-eating mobile plants in the role that would later be far more typically filled by the living dead, and other alien monsters might serve the same role (consider, for example, the possibilities of using Triffids, Deep One hybrids, or Body Snatchers in variations on the "zombie" theme!)

Associated Mythos Elements

Keeper Notes

  • A "zombie apocalypse" type setting might make a fine premise for the occasional one-shot scenario; such one-shots could perhaps benefit from a carefully-designed set of flawed pregen characters doomed to work against each other....
  • A longer campaign might be tricker, though the "Walking Dead" series (and comic book it was based on) might suggest a way to keep this premise going week after week.
  • Though some form of "ghoul" is the most obvious monster to work with, consider some alternative possibilities: most of the human population, sensitive to hearing Cthulhu in dreams when R'lyeh rises from the sea, goes mad, leaving a world full of "zombie" cultists versus the investigators; try a world full of Deep One hybrids with the investigators being the last human beings left on Earth; consider "pod people", Triffids, Midwich Cuckoos, or other alien monsters instead....