I’ve been trying to tell everyone about the dangers of Daylight Savings Time for years, haven’t I?
Night of the Living Dead is a movie about the time the world ended because of Daylight Savings Time. It’s quite famous and old, so I’m sure everyone knows about it by now, but none of my research into this film has taken into account the obvious chronological angle, so as usual it’s up to me to demonstrate the obvious truth of what’s going on here.
This review will contain spoilers for Night of the Living Dead, a movie many of you have likely seen. But please do take that warning to heart, because it’s a film with deep and meaningful themes and I’d hate to ruin them for you.
The film opens with a woman named Barbara complaining about Daylight Savings Time, because subtlety is for films that have colour in them. She’s concerned because the time change has happened, and now it’s still light despite being 8:00 PM, which is understandable, because that’s a very jarring change to have happen all at once. Her brother Johnny is also irate, because he lost an hour of sleep and now he and Barbara have had to go to a cemetery to put flowers on their father’s grave. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones who have been affected by the time change, and they’re attacked by a disgruntled and tired man who doesn’t know what time it is and thinks it’s Cannibalism O’clock, which is an easy enough mistake to make.
Johnny is killed and Barbara flees the scene, and what follows is a night of horror as she and several other Daylight Savings Time Survivors hole up in a house and try to adjust their sleep schedules so that they aren’t totally non-functional for the next workday, but to no avail. Throughout the night, the lack of sleep gets to them all one by one, and though they all try to retain their sanity, the arbitrary nature of Daylight Savings eventually does them all in, ending with the main character Ben, who is shot in the head by the police, which is less a commentary on Daylight Savings as it is on police violence against Black people.
This is of course a famously good movie, and it really does hold up even after all this time. The social themes it addresses are perennial (literally) and affect everyone living in places where Daylight Savings Time is observed. It’s filmed on a shoestring budget, which isn’t super noticeable because it’s in black and white anyway. The acting isn’t amazing, which is probably because the actors are just George Romero’s sleep deprived friends. The characterization is reasonably shallow, but that’s okay because the archetypes it sets up will be repeated in millions of less good (and some good) movies for decades to come, so really its cultural impact cannot be denied.
All in all, it holds up quite well as a good film, I think. Its flaws really aren’t flaws, because the low-budget feel of the movie adds to the sense of dread and foreboding, and the characters’ lack of understanding of what’s going on as everyone turns into Daylight Savings Time monsters is quite compelling because even if the audience knows what’s happening (because we’re told in literally the first line of dialogue), the narrative of the movie is still compelling enough that it draws us in.
I’ve been saying for years that Daylight Savings Time was going to be the cause of the apocalypse, and this movie is one of the few that really gets that. It’s pretty clear that George Romero is a visionary genius who really understands the human condition and the actual social ills facing us both in 1968 and today in 2021. Our situation hasn’t really changed, and if anything has gotten even worse, which means that soon enough we’re doomed to face this exact scenario in our world.
The prophetic quality of this film is what, I think, makes it such a classic. Lots of stories exist that predict the end of the world, but prophecy is about commenting on the present, not the future, and that’s exactly what this film does. Daylight Savings Time is going to result in the destruction of the human race someday, and when it does happen, we won’t be able to say we weren’t warned, because I’ve been saying it for years and George Romero said it in the sixties. We have nobody to blame, nobody at all to blame but ourselves for this. It’s a preventable catastrophe, and we’re doing nothing to prevent it. If nothing changes, we’re destined to be picked off one at a time by time changes, just like the characters in the movie. And that’s scary.
Night of the Living Dead is a forever-relevant classic that comments on the biggest evil in our society, and you should watch it. You’ll learn something.
Denver also says it’s about zombies, but I didn’t see any of those in the movie, so who knows what he’s talking about.