Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 American independent zombie horror film, directed by George A. Romero, starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea and Karl Hardman. It premiered on October 1, 1968, and was completed on a $114,000 budget. The film became a financial success, grossing $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally. It has been a cult classic ever since. Night of the Living Dead was heavily criticized at its release for its explicit gore. It eventually garnered critical acclaim and has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, as a film deemed, "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
The story follows characters Ben (Duane Jones), Barbra (Judith O'Dea), and five others trapped in a rural farmhouse in Western Pennsylvania, which is attacked by a large and growing group of unnamed "living dead" monsters drawing on earlier depictions in popular culture of zombies, which has led this type of creature to be referred to most popularly as a zombie. This is the most easily-recognized version of the living dead, to the point where people gather in mass quantities for conventions dressed as zombies , complete with makeup and prosthetic limbs. Night of the Living Dead led to five subsequent films between 1978 and 2010. They were also directed by Romero and has inspired several remakes.
Night of the Living Dead was also awarded two distinguished honors decades after its debut. The Library of Congress added the film to the National Film Registry in 1999 with other films deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". In 2001, the film was ranked No. 93 by the American Film Institute on their AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills list, a list of America's most heart-pounding movies. The zombies in the picture were also a candidate for AFI's AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains, in the villains category, but failed to make the official list. The Chicago Film Critics Association named it the 5th scariest film ever made. The film also ranked No. 9 on Bravo's The 100 Scariest Movie Moments.