40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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Night of the Living Dead (1968)

As independent cinema and a revised set of film standards entered the game in the ‘60s, horror was often at the forefront of the most shocking and audacious changes. In 1968, little-known director George A. Romero shot a down-and-dirty zombie film the likes of which people had never seen before. Night of the Living Dead follows a group of people trapped in a farmhouse hoping to stave off a zombie invasion.

The film was cast with unknown actors on a shoestring budget utilizing whatever was handy, including covering chicken pieces in chocolate to simulate body parts. But the film became a cult classic that has inspired nearly every horror director who came after Romero. The film certainly won’t please gorehounds raised on ‘80s slasher films, but you wouldn’t have those without Night of the Living Dead.

The film is still tense and creepy, reliant on shambling, dead-eyed figures reminiscent of Herk Harvey’s film Carnival of Souls (another landmark horror feature that Romero had in mind while making this). There’s also a marked racial message — whether you believe Romero plays it as intentional or not — that culminates in a final end credits sequence that’s terrifying because it was real for the times.

Where to Watch It: It’s easily streamable if you have Starz, Amazon Prime, Vudu, FilmStruck, Kanopy, or Shudder.