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50TH ANNIVERSARY SCREENING WITH LIVE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT

Night Of The Living Dead

THURSDAY 4TH OCTOBER 2018

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Matthew Nolan  guitar / synth / electronics
Stephen Shannon  guitar / synth / electronics / sound design
Kevin Murphy  cello / vocal
Catherine Sikora Mingus reeds

As a key work of independent, low-budget cinema, Night of the Living Dead combines several important cultural traditions, exploring race, class, consumerism and the impact of capitalism on the fabric of American life. To celebrate the film’s 50th birthday, musicians and composers Matthew Nolan and Stephen Shannon have reimagined the score in a modern context.

Night of the Living Dead has long been associated with the derogative term ‘splatter movie’. Directed by George A. Romero in 1968, it is so much more than that. Now regarded as a classic of the genre, it’s also credited with introducing gore and special effects into contemporary horror film. In horror, more than most film genres, music is central: to heighten tension, offer insight into characters, to set an unnerving tone.

To celebrate the film’s 50th birthday, musicians and composers Matthew Nolan and Stephen Shannon have reimagined the score in a modern context, joined by Kevin Murphy (cello) and Catherine Sekora Mingus (saxophone, clarinet). This original soundtrack offers a new way to experience Romero’s classic, a hybrid of what visual and sound can achieve in cinematic horror. As a key work of independent, low-budget cinema, Night of the Living Dead combines several important cultural traditions, exploring race, class, consumerism and the impact of capitalism on the fabric of American life.

The film’s success took its creators by surprise; so much so that poor distribution deals resulted in little return for its investors. This now-classic low-budget movie was made over weekends by a group of enthusiasts who had could not have foreseen that it would one day become a cult landmark on the landscape of contemporary horror film. Visually, it’s raw and unpolished, an antidote to the gloss long associated with Hollywood’s studios. Most strikingly, Romero choose to shoot in black-and-white, creating an omininous monochrome and underpinning the issues of race in the film. Long before the emergence of the ‘blaxploitation’ genre, Night of the Living Dead placed a black character in a lead role, which Romero maintained was a coincidence.

Romero’s first feature has transcended its place within the horror genre as the original modern zombie film. Night of the Living Dead interrogates a dysfunctional and deeply disturbed society. It explicitly argued that old American values were now harmful and obsolete, leading to a chaos few would survive unless drastic political and social change would follow. The warning was clear: prepare for dangerous consequences because of destructive patterns of behaviour, both social and personal. Within today’s contemporary culture where issues of race, violence and capitalism still rage, Night of the Living Dead feels just as contemporary, and this reimagined score offers the chance to experience the film in the here and now.

*Night of the Living Dead was first screened at the Fulton Theatre in Pittsburgh on October 1st, 1968.

Presented by NCH

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