NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
GEORGE A. ROMERO and JOHN A. RUSSO
Copyright 1968 by George A. Romero and John A. Russo
is an ordinary dusk of normal quiet and shadow.
The gray sky contains a soft glow from the recent sun, so that trees and
long blades of grass seem to shimmer in the gathering night. There is a rasp of
crickets, and the rustle of leaves in an occasional whispering breeze.
are easy and gradual, with relaxed studies of earth, grass and leafy branches on
a high-mounded hill. Revelation of
cemetery markers does nothing to disrupt the peacefulness of our established
mood; when awareness comes, it is almost as though we have known where we were
all along. We are in a typical
rural cemetery, conceivably adjacent to a small church….
the presence of a church is felt rather than confirmed.
The stones range from small identifying slates to monuments of careful
design…an occasional Franciscan Crucifix, or a carved image of a defending
angel. Over a hundred years of
death indicated in stones syllabic with their year and the status of the
families they represent.
the other night sounds is added the gravel-rumble of a slow-moving car.
A wider shot reveals the car and the mounded cemetery, as the car pulls
into the gate and moves down one of the cemetery roads, the car passes in
extreme foreground and moves away from the camera.
In the breeze of its passing, the dead leaves that clutter the little
road swirl and move.
the distant trees, the last receding gray of dusk in surrendering to the black.
The car continues. When the car stops, we feel the absence of its
sounds…replaced by the crickets and the subtle wind.
Even as the car is still rocking slightly form its stopping action, we
cut to a shot through the driver window at the occupants of the car.
The driver is a young man in his mid-twenties, and his passenger is a
young woman, his sister. The man is
in shirtsleeves with a loosened tie. His suit-coat is on the clothing hook over
the back seat. The girl is wearing
a simple but attractive summer suit, with the jacket removed and folded on her
lap. She is fussing with her purse,
while the man shuts off engine, lights, and leans back to yawn and stretch his
legs. The girl closes a potato chip
bag, brushes crumbs, fluffs her hair… typical feminine gestures after a long
ride. The man stretches again.
OUGHT TO MAKE THE DAY THE
CHANGES THE FIRST DAY OF
THEN TWO GOOD THINGS
HAPPEN ALL AT ONCE.
little laugh from the man as he straightens his tie.
LOVE THE LONG DAYS AND
LOT OF GOOD THE EXTRA DAYLIGHT DOES ME.
LOST AN HOUR’S SLEEP. AND IT’S DARK ALREADY,
WE STILL HAVE A THREE-HOUR DRIVE,
WE WON’T GET BACK TILL AFTER MIDNIGHT.
reaches down to put her shoes on:
IT REALLY DRAGGED YOU THAT MUCH,
WOULDN’T DO IT.
YOU KIDDING? I CERTAINLY DON’T
TO BLOW SUNDAY ON THIS SCENE.
GONNA EITHER HAVE TO MOVE
TO PARKVILLE OR MOVE THE
YOU’RE JUST BEING SILLY. MOTHER
MAKE A DRIVE LIKE THIS.
reaches to the back seat and produces a flowered, cross-shaped grave ornament.
In the center of the cross, in gold script on a red field, is written “We
TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS…”WE STILL
I DON’T, YOU KNOW IT…
DON’T REMEMBER WHAT THE
IT TAKES YOU FIVE MINUTES.
HOURS... NO, SIX HOURS…SIX
AND FIVE MINUTES.
continues to primp and straighten her outfit.
John hands her the grave ornament and leans forward to struggle into his
WANTS TO REMEMBER. SO WE
TO DRIVE FOUR-HUNDRED MILES
PLANT A CROSS ON A GRAVE.
AS IF HE’S STARING UP THROUGH THE GROUND’TO
OUT THE DECORATIONS…
points at the cross inscription)…
HAVE TO REMEMBER…
SHE STAYS AT HOME.
WE’RE HERE…ALL RIGHT?
opens her door and turns to step out. John takes the keys from the ignition and
drops them into his pocket.
BARB, YOU KNOW THE
BEEN ON ALL THIS TIME…
Shot of Radio)
GOT A SIGNAL, CHARLIE?…
MUST HAVE BEEN THE STATION
NOT BE AL…
clicks the radio off. He gets out
of the car and walks around the front of it, trotting to catch up with his
sister. It is obvious that she
didn’t hear him. He catches up to
her and starts to repeat his discovery about the radio.
THE RADIO IS OKAY, IT’S JUST…
is more interested in finding the row containing their father’s grave.
REMEMBER WHICH ROW ITS IN?
forgetting the radio)
OH, IT’S OVER HERE, IT THINK…
start in his suggested direction.
YOU HEAR THE RADIO?
ahead, trying to spot the grave)
RADIO’S FIXED. MUST’VE BEEN THE
NOT THE RADIO.
searching intently, she tosses this
YOU WON’T BE AS BITCHY
jibes at each other are not really in anger, but are typical of brother-sister
annoyance. They walk through the
row of gravestones in the growing darkness.
conversation, with no more
Significance than a
comment about the
IT IS LATE. IF YOU’D GET UP A
ALREADY LOST AN HOUR’S SLEEP ON THE
SOMETIMES I THINK YOU COMPLAIN JUST
TO HEAR YOURSELF TALK.
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