Welcome to another edition of “Best Of / Worst Of Character Moments”. This evening’s subject matter is the brilliant, but devastating “Night of the Living Dead”. Our characters, being just regular people, both have moments of genuine heroism… and appalling selfishness as they try to survive a night when flesh eating zombies attack. Obvs, this is the film that totally changed how popular culture saw the zombie foe and created an indelible template for zombie horror that still influences the genre today.
Our characters who fall under our investigative gaze are: Barbra, Ben, Harry, Helen, Tom and Judy.
[And once again, I must start this examination by giving myself a demerit for sloppy editing before posting of the review… some of my errors include misspelling “they’re” again, leaving out letters from several words and missing an entire word in some sentences! Oh, honestly Rob…, WTF was going on during this write up??]span>
Our Heroes: We Want To Be With Them!
Barbra- Well, Barbra starts off the film so well and does everything right to survive this disaster… in the beginning. She doesn’t do anything kudo-worthy immediately, but she isn’t an anchor the way she becomes later. It really hurts that she comes out of her stupor just in time to save Helen and then die horribly. But, that rushing to save Helen does earn that KUDO very late in the film.
Ben- I have to give Ben a Half-KUDO for having his head on straight and taking proactive measures to survive the night not just immediately, but consistently. He’s always thinking and focused on how to barricade the doors and windows and he remains organized and planning ahead to take an opportunity to escape should it arrive, rather than falling into complacent inaction like the rest of our group tends to do.
Harry- I’m going to give Harry a Half-KUDO for his survival planning as well. The cellar is a double-edged sword as far as escape routes, but at least he has the tools and wood ready to blockade the door should a sudden retreat be their only option… and he turns out to be right… the cellar does allow for survival and is reinforced enough to resist the zombie mob. On the other hand, once you’re down there, you’ve got no place left to go… it’s a trap. This is why he only gets a half.
Helen- I generally really like Helen, but she doesn’t get an opportunity to do enough for a kudo.
Tom- I really like Tom and his cooperative spirit, but what I want to issue a Half-KUDO for is his insistence on volunteering, along with Ben, on the dangerous mission to get their means of escape gassed up and ready to go. It’s brave and practical at the same time. I do question if staying in the house until help arrived might not have been a better plan, and I wonder about trying the desperate gambit in the dark rather than waiting for daylight, so again I can only issue half-credit despite the soundness of the basic idea of escape to a more heavily fortified location.
Judy- I have nothing to offer to Judy. Her volunteering for the mission to the gas pump doesn’t earn her anything because she wasn’t necessary and she only went to be with Tom.
Our Heroes: Thank God, We’re Not Stuck With Them!
Barbra- Oh, Barb. It’s hard to issue a demerit to someone who has simply broken because it’s not really their fault. So, I won’t. But that doesn’t stop me from being hugely frickin’ annoyed by her refusal to deal with the situation as soon as Ben shows up to take control.
Ben- For Ben being the hero, he has so many things wrong with his character that make him hard to exactly like, though I do respect him and his survival plans. This includes his being a car thief before the apocalypse, and his accidentally getting Tom and Judy killed with his panicked rush to rash action out at the gas pump. But what really undermines him and everyone’s survival is his absolute need to be in control of everybody else that drives him to ignore or argue with every idea out of Harry’s mouth, even if it makes sense as a fallback position, or an alternate plan to help them survive. He’s an egotist and it earns him a DEMERIT.
Harry- Harry gets a huge DEMERIT for not cooperating with Ben in any way, even when the ideas are obvious and sound like at least trying to keep the place boarded up tight against an invasion from outside. He’s constantly going out of his way to try to antagonize Ben over every decision that only distracts from keeping everyone working cooperatively to stay alive. And though he does it partly out of fear, it’s actually mostly just out of ego and a need to be in charge.
Helen- Helen doesn’t earn herself a demerit, but I hated every second of her cowering at her daughter’s feet and allowing herself to be killed. HATED IT
Tom- I don’t have anything to issue a demerit to Tom over.
Judy- Judy also doesn’t earn herself a demerit.
We cannot leave this posting without issuing a special DEMERIT and it’s a huge one. To the effing putz who shot Ben without checking your target to see if it was a live person in need of rescue first – BURN IN HELL.