Birth of the Living Dead

Synopsis: In 1968, Pittsburgh native, George Romero, would direct a low budget film that would revolutionize the horror genre forever, Night of the Living Dead. Through interviews with the talents involved, the story of this film creation is told and how it reflected its time with a grotesque and powerful immediacy. Furthermore, the film's difficult and controversial release to an unsuspecting film public is also recounted as it survived the early revulsion to become a landmark cinematic creation with a profound effect on popular culture.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Rob Kuhns
Production: First Run Features
Rotten Tomatoes:
76 min

Welcome to a night

of total terror.

In 1967, a 27 year old

college drop out from the Bronx

named George A. Romero directed

a low budget horror film.

Night of the Living Dead!

The film introduced the world

to a new kind of monster...

Persons who have recently died

have been returning to life

and committing acts of murder.

...the flesh eating zombie.

This spawned an entire genre

of TV shows and movies, novels,

comic books, video games

and zombie conventions,

thriving industries

to this day.

But at the time "Night of

the Living Dead" was made,

I don't think

audiences were ready

for "Night of the Living Dead."

It spoke to its audience

in ways few horror films

had ever done before.

And I think that's why

they were drawn to it.

The first time you

saw it you realized

it was making a place for itself

in a time capsule of some sort.

No movie had that kind

of impact at that time.

It was this tiny

little movie in Pittsburgh

that seemed to have no chance.

And it, you know,

changed the world.

It was no big thing, man.

Who knew that we were ever even

going to finish this movie.

It was just like a bunch

of people getting together

and we were going

to try to make a movie.

And none of us knew that it

was ever going to get finished.

Let alone become something

as well-known as it is.

George Romero started his first

film production company

in the city of Pittsburgh

in 1963.

He called it, the Latent Image.

It's a beautiful day

in this neighborhood

A beautiful day

for a neighbor

Would you be mine

Could you be mine

We all weaned into the business

on Fred Rogers,

"Mr. Rogers Neighborhood."

Almost everybody in Pittsburgh

who works in the biz now

worked for Fred for a while.

I have always wanted to have

a neighbor just like you

Romero and his partners

make several short films

for the children's

television series,


"Things that Feel Soft"

and "Mr. Rogers

Gets a Tonsillectomy."

Up in the ceiling were

some lights I could see.

And the kind eyes

of the people

in the operating room.

Even though they wore masks,

I could see their kind eyes.

Which remains one of the

scariest movies I've ever done.

The Latent Image also finds

opportunity in a new industry.

At the time, you know,

commercials were live.

The beer commercials used

to be the sportscaster.

Even when you were

able to drink.

You were actually able to drink

beer on camera in a commercial.

These guys, by the time,

if you went into extra innings,

it was like...

And all of a sudden,

we come along and say,

"You know, you can do

this sh*t on film, man."

When you hit a dry spell,

what's the natural way

to wet it down?

Hey honey! How about a beer?

With a tall, cold Duke.

Duquesne beer at the time,

which is no longer.

Great times, great beer,

they go together.

And there's no better beer

for great times than Iron City.

Iron's still there.

Iron! Gimme an Iron!

And how about that

Iron City flavor?

Rich. Robust.


I could shoot, I could record,

I was an editor.

You know, I wound

up doing it all.

So it was all learn by doing.

I shot more film

at the Latent Image

than I've shot over the course

of all the feature films

that I've made.

I mean, because we were

shooting all the time.

In those days, it was all film.

So, you had to wait for it

to come back from the lab.

There were local labs.

They were not that reliable.

You'd put your heart

into shooting this stuff

and the guy would

call up and say,

"You know what,

we f***ed it up."

But once the film came back,

as long as it looked okay man,

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Rob Kuhns

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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