3 Feb 2014

SLASHER FILM RULES - Night of the Living Dead

The film that inspired The Walking Dead.

1968's seminal Zombie film Night of the Living Dead has a small group in an isolated house trying to survive the night while something it trying to kill them.  Is that enough for it to follow the Slasher Rules?

The following may include spoilers for

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

This is not a review of the film, but an exploration of how well it follows film rules.  The film rules being tested here are from: The Slasher Film Rules.

Rule #1 - A Warning Will Come From...

TV: It's like newspapers.
H:  NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS - Not really, actually from the radio and television news, although not even really from them.  The radio station went off air before the film started and returned as Johnny and Barbra arrived at the graveyard.  It may have provided a warning, but they left the vehicle before it gave one.  Later the radio in the house gave a lot information, but really just information Ben had already given.  Later a television was informative, but not really a warning.

Rule #2 - There Will Be T&A

There was a naked female zombie in the zombie hoard, which literally showed tits and ass.  The zombie butt even makes it onto some The Night of the Living Dead posters.

Rule #3 - Death Will Be A Punishment For...

Naked zombie butt.

G:  ANNOYING - Johnny and Harry are pretty annoying.
H:  BYSTANDERS - In a Zombie Outbreak pretty much everyone is a bystander.

Rule #4 - Never Go...

A:  THE BASEMENT - There was a long fight about whether the basement was safer than the main house.  Pretty much turns out that the annoying guy was right, as a number of people were killed upstairs and Ben survived the night by escaping into the basement.
B:  UPSTAIRS - People went upstairs.  Seemed OK.
G:  ANYWHERE ISOLATED - The house is isolated.

Rule #5 - Order of Death...

The first characters onscreen.
A:  THE FIRST PERSON ON SCREEN - Barbra appears onscreen momentarily before Johnny but we'll saying that appeared at the same time.  Johnny is the first to die.
B:  THE BLACK MAN DIES FIRST - Ben, the black man, is actually the last to die.
D:  THE BIMBO - Increasingly I'm hating that the only 2 categories of female characters I have are being the Virgin (Final Girl) and the Whore (Bimbo) as it forced the less smart, shapely female characters into the bimbo character whether she deserves it or not.  Judy is shapely, she does some pretty dumb things and is easily convinced.  She does seem interested in Tom, so let's call her, fairly or unfairly the "Bimbo".  I don't know where Helen even belongs.
F:  THE MACHO JERK - Harry is a jerk.  Not sure if he'd really count as macho, but he does fight with Ben just because he recognises Ben as the alpha-male.  Johnny, too, is a jerk.
H:  THE SENSITIVE GUY - Ben and Tom come of as pretty sensitive.
I:  CHILDREN - Karen is dying when we first see her, allowing her to become a horror child.
J:  THE FINAL GIRL - Barbra starts by showing signs of being the Final Girl, although scared she begins to show resourcefulness (taking the handbrake off on the car to get away from the first zombie).

Order of Death:
1.  Johnny (Zombie) [A, F]
2 & 3.  Tom & Judy (Accidental explosion) [H & D-ish]
4.  Karen (Zombie) [I] *although injured earlier.
5.  Harry (Shot by Ben) [F]
6.  Helen (Zombies) [?]
7.  Barbra (Zombies) [J-ish]
8.  Ben (Accidental shooting) [H]

Rule #6 - Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…
Rechecking the phones.

A:  COMMUNICATION - The radio station was initially out when it could have warned of danger.  The phones in the house where out.  The radio and TV later work fine, but gave information that caused conflict.
B:  LIGHTING - There was no real problem with the lighting until near the end of the film when they lost all power.  There is some question as the whether having all the lights on attracted the zombies or warded them off.  The zombies smashed the lights on the car and mass attacked immediately after the lights went off.
C:  VEHICLES - Barbra gets to the car safely but finds no keys.  Later the truck needs refueling leading to an explosion killing Tom & Judy.
D:  YOUR OWN LEGS - Barbra falls twice while running from the first zombie.
E:  AUTHORITIES - The TV seems to show the authorities doing pretty well cleaning up the zombies and the end of the film supports that.  Unfortunately, they accidentally shoot and kill Ben.

Rule #7 - The Final Girl
Ben after surviving the night.

BARBRA:  shows signs of being the final girl and was initially written that way.  However, they liked Judith O'Dea's portrayal of Barbra's breakdown and Barbra fell apart and pretty much stayed broken down until just before her death.

A:  FINAL - He is the final survivor, although doesn't survive the film.
B:  GIRL - Not so much.
C:  MASCULINE - Plenty masculine.  Sensitive, but still very male.
D:  WELL DRAWN - He is the most well-drawn character.  He has inner-strength the whole time and seems to know all the rules to dealing with zombies.
Johnny returns.
E:  VIRGINAL & INNOCENT - Nothing is shown either way.
F:  WILL BE REBORN - Isn't reborn as has inner strength the whole time.

Rule #8 - The Killer has a connection to...

There is no single killer rather zombies (or "Ghouls")

A:  LOCATION - There is some connection to graveyard, no real connection to the house.
B & D:  THE OTHER VICTIMS - The characters sometimes had connections to particular zombies (Barbra to the zombie Johnny, Helen to zombie Karen).

Rule #9 - Evil Never Dies...

Family reunion.
With the living dead this is very literal.

Rule #10 - The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

This is the first film in a series... it's the first film in a number of loosely connected series of films.  For future reference the following should be noted:

A:  THEY WILL FOLLOW THE RULES MORE - Night of the Living Dead is credited with creating the zombie genre.
B:  THEY WILL BE MORE FORMULAIC - As the first film in a series, no real series formula exists to follow or break.
C:  THERE WILL BE MORE T&A - As noted above, there was one naked female zombie.
D:  MORE AND BIGGER DEATHS - There were the following deaths:
  • Killed by zombies - 4.
  • Killed by humans - 4.
  • A large number of zombies were also killed.


  • The following rules are followed:  3g; 3h; 4a; 4g; 6a; 6b; 6c; 6d; 6e; 9.
  • The following rules are partially followed:  1; 2; 5a; 5d; 5f; 5h; 8a; 8d; 8f; 8g.
  • The following rules are not followed:  4b; 5b; 5i; 5j; 7.
  • The following rules are not applied:  3a; 3b; 3c; 3d; 3e; 3f; 4c; 4d; 4e; 4f; 5c; 5e; 5g; 6f; 6g; 8b; 8c; 8e.

~ DUG.
Zombie Week
The Walking Dead returns 9th Feb


  1. With 25 applicable rules and only 5 not followed, I would say it came surprisingly close. Surprisingly because I didn't think it would do so well, under the circumstances.

  2. I don't think the rules are of equal importance. The slasher film cliche is that death is for "transgression" and in this film (and possibly most zombie films) death was not a punishment. However, it's all worth considering.