Night of the Living Dead is a horror film directed by George Romero, which was the first film that really started the Zombie genre.
The film starts with two siblings going to a cemetery, zombies start to come out, and the brother gets killed. The sister runs into an abandoned house for hiding, and meets a strong man, who tries preventing zombies from getting into the house.
What’s interesting about the film is that the distinguishment between the alive and the zombies isn’t clear. The film does not give much details on why the zombies are the way the way they are but the speculation, which is that the radiation-covered NASA satellite retuned from Venus and mutates the dead, and turns them into the living dead. It remains unclear from the beginning till the end that whether or not those scary creatures are humans. As a visual depiction, the crowds of zombies are not only consisted by grown men, but also children, woman, and the elders. Though they behave like monsters, their appearance is much like human despite the bloody mouth and somehow weird-looking facial expression. The confusing visual representation builds up the complexity of the enemy that the characters fight for.
Therefore it is easy to draw the conclusion that what the living Americans fight against is partially themselves. Ironically, what turns zombies into zombies is also the American because of the implicit suggestion of the speculation. The zombie apocalypse in Night of the Living Dead can be interpreted as human cannibalism. This conclusion can be more supported by the ending, when the policeman kills the main guy in the film without a doubt, just like killing a zombie. It questions the audience, what is the difference between a zombie and a human being, what is the enemy that American is fighting for. From this point, it is clear to see a connection between the unnecessary death in the Vietnam War and the assassinations in the 60s. It was a public fear that the death of human being is understated.
The later zombie films also tried to explore this moral controversy and none of them had such a significant effect as much as in Night of the Living Dead. The reason might much be the year that the film came out. People in 60s could resonate with the fear in the film more.