Night of the Living Dead | Crooked Media
October 10, 2023
Ruined with Alison Leiby and Halle Kiefer
Night of the Living Dead

In This Episode

Halle and Alison trudge along with some classic zombies to ruin Night of the Living Dead.







[theme music]: If scary movies give you dread. Keep you up late night in bed, here’s a podcast that will help you ease your mind. We’ll explain the plot real nicely then we’ll talk about what’s frightening, so you never have to have a spooky time. It’s Ruined.


Halle Kiefer: Hello, everybody. Welcome to Ruined. I’m Halle. 


Alison Leiby: And I’m Alison. 


Halle Kiefer: This is a podcast where we ruin a horror movie just for you. 


Alison Leiby: Just for all of you. Halle—


Halle Kiefer: Alison, how you doing? 


Alison Leiby: Oh boy.


Halle Kiefer: Beat you to the punch. 


Alison Leiby: All right, Well, good. I’m good. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh. 


Alison Leiby: Because. 


Halle Kiefer: Hell, yeah. 


Alison Leiby: The WGA struck a tentative deal with the AMPTP. We are. You know, I have a lot of confidence that it is a good deal. We will ratify it, and we will start the process of people starting to go back to work. It’s still a long road because SAG still has to get back to work. And I don’t know how long that takes, but it just feels like this huge both like relief, like, you know, personally like, okay, we’re going to like, I’m going to be able to work again sometime in the near future, but also just kind of like existentially of like—


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: —the fact that, like solidarity works, that unions can protect people and that like actual like working together in numbers and standing up to these absolute assholes who run the nine corporations that are in charge of all of culture. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Like, it works and it’s important to do it. And there are a lot of other unions that have negotiations in the next year or two that like I hope that the WGA and SAG can stand up for because they were really the Animation Guild. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: The Teamsters. IATSE. Like they all you know, it’s we all deserve a fair deal. And it’s just like exciting that like, it can be done. We did it so like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Let’s get everybody a fair deal. It just feels like. Great.


Halle Kiefer: Great. Yeah, it’s very hopeful. I agree. Living in L.A., there’s sort of this intense—


Alison Leiby: Yeah.


Halle Kiefer: —ambient depression. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And even as someone who is working, it’s like, first off, I feel terrible for everybody you know, you know, who’s on strike and like, has to worry and everything. And also just like it affects every other industry, you know, it affects restaurants. It affects every everything, you know, because it’s like—


Alison Leiby: Hairdressers. Taxis. Like. 


Halle Kiefer: To have like, yeah, thousands of people on strike affects the economy and all these reverberating ways. And I agree. I think we’re entering a time where like labor action is going to become this very powerful tool. And I don’t know, I think I’ve always, you know, even my first job, I worked at Barnard College. I was an office assistant. I was I was in the union because they had already unionized. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So I’d be like, you know, I’ve only been in and out Crooked. Obviously we have a union, so it’s like I’ve only been from unions and experiencing the process of people having solidarity. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And also like honest to God, I don’t know what they expect us to do other than this, you know what I mean? Where it’s like it has to be around labor. You know. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: The entertainment industry is it is infused with a pornographic amount of money. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So to then say the people who make us that money, like we should be able to have an AI do your job. It’s like. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know what you think people are going to do. And and this is true of every industry, like I’m sure AI, these same issues are affecting a lot of different industries. 


Alison Leiby: 100%. 


Halle Kiefer: So, you know, what can we do but push back against them? And yeah, it’s a huge relief and I hope that they figure out that they have to resolve a SAG too. And someone told me that SAG is asking for the most and I will say I’m like, well, that is, I think in response to how difficult it is to be an actor [laughs] and like most people can’t like it’s—


Alison Leiby: Getting harder and harder. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: And it’s getting more and more kind of like you’re either like you’re Jennifer Lawrence or you’re like, not working. Those are kind of like the situations that a lot of people like and writing is the same. But I think in acting it’s like even more stratified. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Because like there’s also people who are like slipping into acting from other avenues now and making a lot of money, which like is fine, but. 


Halle Kiefer: And also just nepotism, you know? I mean, like, I mean, I’m sure there’s obviously nepotism in writing. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: But like nepotism in acting, it’s like, yeah, if you don’t work for nine months, who could do that? Like most people what’s like so severe that you just can’t get other work? I mean, sometimes you can, but it’s like, how do you live in L.A.?


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, it’s like, how do you live in New York? It’s a huge hurdle for people to cross, huge hurdle for people who are excellent at what they do and should be able to do their job because it is a real job. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: You know. 


Alison Leiby: Right. And just even to be just like work, to feel like you’re part of the middle class in acting or writing or kind of like anything in entertainment feels so difficult now because that’s so not a thing. And we all need everybody should be comfortable. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: So, it’s exciting. It’s exciting that it feels like maybe things are starting to make moves. And I also just I say, I just got back from Toronto when we’re recording this and thank you to all of the amazing Ruined fans who came out to my shows in Toronto and I chatted with a lot of you outside and it was like so, so nice and fun. I had no idea. I feel like we have to go to Toronto now. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m in count me in.


Alison Leiby: Because I it felt like to me there was like someone from Ruined at every show I did, if not a handful of people. And also Toronto fucking rocks. The food is great. The shopping is unbelievable. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, okay. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. So I had a great time. And just thank you to all the people who came out for that because that was really exciting for me. Seeing you guys. 


Halle Kiefer: I will say I was like, wow, I haven’t been to Toronto. I guess I went once my my eighth grade school trip and we went to the Spaghetti Factory, which I was pretty excited about, but I’m sure there are other things there. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I went to the aquarium. I got a little stoned. I went to the aquarium one morning so that I wouldn’t go shopping anymore [laughs] and it was great. 


Halle Kiefer: We really appreciate you guys coming out. It means a lot to us. And—


Alison Leiby: Yeah, so. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: And it just tells me that we, you know, as we start figuring out what it looks like for us to be in person doing shows live, you know, where do we go?


Halle Kiefer: That’s yeah, I would we would obviously love to do more of that in the coming year and I’ve not been on stage in a long time. 


Alison Leiby: How are you? 


Halle Kiefer: I’m I’m good. I’m. I’m trying to think, what have I been up to? I’ve just been working. I feel like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Um, I’m trying to make. I’m trying to, like, plan ahead for a spooky season, so I just bought tickets to a Drag King Brunch. That is Addams Family Values versus Hocus Pocus. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: So I’m just trying to, like, rack up, like, schedule out my October. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm, yeah. You’re gonna have a busy month. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I feel like last year I was just so busy, I didn’t end up doing much, so I’m trying to look forward, look ahead into the in the coming months. Other than that, Alison, I don’t know. I’ve just been working. I have nothing. I have only the films that flicker before my unblinking eyes and then labor. [laughter] And that is. Oh, God. Sorry, I have to wake up. This is a dream. [laughs]  What if it turns out I’ve been asleep this entire time? 


Alison Leiby: I would be impressed with how salient all your points have been. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, good. Thank you. All right. Well, we are, of course, doing let’s scare Alison to death month. And I mean, that’s every month for us, obviously. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah but this one feels so pointed. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, we wanted to we really wanted to do something that I thought would get under Alison’s skin. And this week we doing a movie it’s almost unbelievable that we have not done yet. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And that, of course, is 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. 


Alison Leiby: Finally. 


Halle Kiefer: And this is I’ll be honest, I had not seen this and I’ve talked about this on the podcast. I have a a problem, not a problem, a fixation on there certain films, classic horror films that I always want to like wait till the exact right time to watch because then I will have seen it. 


Alison Leiby: Mm yes. 


Halle Kiefer: But then that does not exist. So then I just don’t watch them. So this was great. I really wanted to see it anyways, obviously. And this is of course an iconic it’s a George A. Romero. We had already done The Crazies and this was of course a as people would say, I’d say a Lady Gaga, a real cultural reset, if you will. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. I mean, this movie for me is such a title that I know that it’s like part of culture and kind of like what all I really know about it, though, is like the title and the font and then like just kind of zombie people kind of lurching toward camera and then like, that’s all I know. And I’m like, I need the context. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. And—


Alison Leiby: I mean, I guess I could guess the context, but. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: I mean, watching it now, it is an excellent movie. Like it is a stylish like it is obviously independent, low budget, but like every shot it like is imbued with style. The soundtrack is perfect, the acting is excellent. And I think really did and obviously still does set the bar for like a low budget independent film. And obviously we’ve done other George A. Romero movies. We did The Crazies, we did Creepshow, we did Monkey Shines. I think that’s the only one so far. But of course, we will continue to do more Living Dead movies in the franchise. I feel like you all know this listening, a phenomenal film. 


Alison Leiby: Are there a bunch of them? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. How many are there? I’m not actually sure how many he directed, because I’m sure they also. Where is his filmography? People love it listen to me go on Wikipedia, right? 


Alison Leiby: I love it. This is my ASMR. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay, good. Boo doo do do do do do do, do, do. Okay, we’ve got Night of the Living Dead, obviously. And then we have Dawn of the Dead. Day of the Dead. Night of the Living Dead that he wrote from 1990, but did not direct Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead. Survival of the Dead. And of course you did The Crazies which you’ve done. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: From 1973. And then there was a Crazies remix, remake in 2010—


Alison Leiby: Remix? 


Halle Kiefer: Remix. 


Alison Leiby: Remix. 


Halle Kiefer: But it’s I don’t know. I just feel like watching this movie again, I don’t want to like, harp on any particular IP reboots, but I just feel like this past couple of years has been a lesson in just fucking artless, glossy humorless, style less. 


Alison Leiby: Boring. 


Halle Kiefer: Like synthetic target. Boring. Fucking IP driven movies. And this is a great movie. It’s like it is not reinventing the wheel. This is a there are zombie movies before this movie. There are zombie movies after. It is just a perfect version of a zombie movie made like a for, pays on the dollar. And I just hope after the strike is over that there is explosion of independent film. 


Alison Leiby: I hope so too. 


Halle Kiefer: Cause that’s what people fucking want. I like not everything can be the goddamn Super Mario Brothers. And we’ve talked about this and I know I’m pedantic about it. 


Alison Leiby: No one is losing their mind over, like, bad IP. Like. Like Barbie was a big thing, but like, aside from that, but that’s a different thing. But, like, no one is like, oh, my God. Super Mario Brothers. Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: The ninth installation of this, what of the Star Wars thing is so amazing. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: But like you do hear, hear people be like, Holy crap, Past Lives was so good. You know what? That’s not necessarily an indie, but like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Something new. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Something that feel like it feels human. And yeah, obviously horror being the genre we’re talking about. But yeah, like, I mean, like people want rom coms, people want family drama. It’s like people want actual human stories. 


Alison Leiby: Stories. 


Halle Kiefer: And in this case, some of the humans are, of course, the living dead. Now, of course, we always like to have Alison watch the trailer for the film. Alison, what did you think of the trailer for Night of the Living Dead? 


Alison Leiby: Okay, well, the trailer that I watched was for the it was the right trailer. It was the right movie. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s fine, it’s honestly fine if it wasn’t. You know that. 


Alison Leiby: [laughs] I mean, it almost makes it more fun, no. It was for the like 4K like re-digitization, like, whatever that means. Like they, like took the original film negatives and just like, made it so it was like very clear. And so like it was just even scarier because it felt modern. 


Halle Kiefer: Hell yeah. 


Alison Leiby: But also old. I don’t know. I was like, wait, this is incredible and scary, but just like, yeah, very simple. Just like, well, those dead people, they’re not dead. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And I think this speaks to one of my favorite kinds of movies, which is horror movies, which is that it is unrelenting. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: We find ourselves just regular people trying to survive in a horrific situation. They only have the information that you get from the radio and it’s just on them to— 


Alison Leiby: God. 


Halle Kiefer: Make it through. And of course, you know, me and Alison, we of course, would have our brains devoured within—


Alison Leiby: Instantly. 


Halle Kiefer: —seconds of seeing a zombie. It’s our brains would be in that zombies mouths. 


Alison Leiby: I feel like the zombies might look at us and be like, there’s nothing up there. 


Halle Kiefer: Not even worth it. [laughter] Yeah, exactly. Empty calories, these bitches. We also like to get a baseline scary. Now, how scary? Alison, do you find the concept of the living dead?


Alison Leiby: Very scary. The scene in the trailer that like I was like, oh no, is like a woman kind of stumbles across a dead body and then and his eyes are open and then they move and it’s like—


Halle Kiefer: You better believe that’s a lot of what’s happening in this movie. 


Alison Leiby: That’s so scary. [laughs] It’s so scary. I don’t like it even though I don’t believe in zombies as a real thing in our world. But like, there is just something super off-putting about, like, the line between living and dead being blurred. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, there is something. It’s like, obviously death is supposed to be final, so to see them back at it for a second round. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Is it’s tough to stomach. And then would you like to guess the twist in Night of the Living Dead Alison. 


[voice over]: Guess the twist. 


Alison Leiby: I’m going to, my guess is there’s not a real big twist, right? 


Halle Kiefer: Well, not as such. No, I wouldn’t say there’s a twist. No, do you want to guess something that happens? Maybe. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I’m going to. Guess that the last standing zombie was like our main character becomes a zombie at the end. 


Halle Kiefer: Great. Okay. 


Alison Leiby: Like, one of our main characters that we’re following is, like, the final thing is, like. And they’re a zombie now. 


Halle Kiefer: Excellent. Excellent guess. All right. Let’s begin ruining Night of the Living Dead. This film is, of course, in black and white. So picture in your mind. Dear listener, we see a lonely country road and a car speeding towards us. And even in this, like a long shot of a car coming over a country road that already has most artistry than most horror movies right now. I’m sorry. Like, give us a moment. Like, let us take it in. And of course, the music is already ominous and full of dread. So it’s like even just seeing a car. He’s already setting the tone of, like, whatever you see, it’s going to be terrifying. So you have to then be constantly scanning the screen, which again, another thing, excellent thing to set up for your horror movie, Alison, you’re going to hate this. We see the car turn into a cemetery. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, boy. It’s like we’re starting with a mistake. 


Halle Kiefer: You got to go to the cemetery. Unfortunately, that’s where most of the dead are, at least at this time. 


Alison Leiby: Well, I would imagine. 


Halle Kiefer: And over the cemetery, we, of course, see an American flag. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, good. 


Halle Kiefer: The car stops, and we meet brother and sister Barbra and Johnny. And also everyone’s name is Barbra and Johnny basically, like. [laughs] So it’s like the most like, what is a human man’s name? Johnny, you know what I mean? 


Alison Leiby: Well also, I feel like in the sixties there were like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: 12 names that every character that every person like, obviously there were lots of names and there’s lots of like that’s like, reductive, but like, I feel like I watch a movie, I read a book, I read something about that time. Everybody has like the same 12 names. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, a lot of Tom’s, a lot, a lot of Ben’s [both speaking] a lot of Mary’s. Yeah. And they are there at the cemetery to visit their father’s grave. I wanted to ask you, Alison, how do you want your body disposed of when you die? Have you thought about this? 


Alison Leiby: Oh, blasted off in a firework. [laughter]


Halle Kiefer: Weird. Okay, so where’s the firework being lodged from? Like a boat?


Alison Leiby: [laughs] I mean, that’s ideal. Since I’m a boat person no. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh. 


Alison Leiby: In reality, I would like to be cremated. I think. I mean, I would like to do, like, whatever the greenest version of burying. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Somebody is. But, yeah, I don’t know what that like with climate change being like. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t know where you do that and not have your body just be—


Halle Kiefer: Maybe they can use your bodies to build a dam or something. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. [both speaking] I want to be I want to be helpful. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: Like I’m down for like, if I have anything useful in my body, you can take it and then just kind of use me for something good or dispose of me in a way that’s not going to make the earth worse. Those are the things I would like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. That makes sense.


Alison Leiby: I likely would just be cremated. I don’t know. I’ll probably like, die in a climate change emergency so there won’t be any burying [laughter] there wont be any burying for us. 


Halle Kiefer: When the water rises over the wheels of my car and I can’t drive out of Los Angeles during a hurricane. You know, I mean, I hate to say it, but, like, yeah, where we’re all going to end up being buried is sort of moot. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah wherever you—


Halle Kiefer: And unfortunately like—


Alison Leiby: —were when the climate problem near you happened. 


Halle Kiefer: And there’s a lot of places I like. I remember, you know, Hurricane Katrina where it’s like a lot of places. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like that will where if people are being physically buried, their bodies, that will become an issue as well and probably already is. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah, it definitely already is. 


Halle Kiefer: Also when you said firework for some reason I thought like, you know how sometimes people like light fireworks off like on a boat at their wedding? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: For some reason it was Taylor Swift and this new guy, Travis Kelce’s wedding. 


Alison Leiby: Yes Kelce. Kelce?


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know. I’m sorry. If you’re a listener, you have to give up the ghost on her being queer. It’s not happening, guys. It’s whether, maybe she’s that closeted.


Alison Leiby: Even if she is, she’s not going to come out.


Halle Kiefer: It’s. It’s just never going to happen, right? So we got to kind of. We got to hang up our hat and move on. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. See what different men she’s going to date. 


Halle Kiefer: Right? Exactly. Handsome men. Men I hope. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Are okay. Whenever I see a football player I of course think of CTE. So I think, like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Caregiving later in life, you know, but they have money. I mean, I hope they’re okay, but. So anyways, back to the movie. Sorry. [laughter] Barbra mentioned several times it’s daylight savings time, which is very funny because I kept being like, oh, it’s going to come back later. It doesn’t. And they’re both like, oh, like, you know, Johnny says, I lost an hour’s sleep. We had to drive out here. We find out they’re basically three hours outside Pittsburgh and they’re there to put a flowers on their father’s grave, which you do once a year because their mother asked them to. She’s too old to make the trip. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: But Johnny’s like, oh, my God, it’s six hours roundtrip. We just got out here to the cemetery and Barbra’s like, Shut up. I had to listen to you for three hours. We can’t do something nice for the poor bastard? He’s dead. You know. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: So she gets out and starts looking for their father’s grave. And before he opens his door, Johnny goes to shut the car off and he hears the radio cut back in and say, We’re sorry about that. We’re back on everyone, there’s some sort of technical problem. But it wasn’t. It looks like it affected other stations. But he’s like, Oh, that’s weird. Shuts off the car follows Barbra as they look for their papa’s grave. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, boy. 


Halle Kiefer: Sunday, at papa’s grave. 


Alison Leiby: It looks like there was some good information coming after that, I bet. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. You got to listen to the radio. And people don’t listen to the radio anymore Alison. 


Alison Leiby: No, no just podcasts, which thank you. 


Halle Kiefer: Thank you for listening. We would obviously let you know if the zombie apocalypse this wouldn’t be released. Probably if—


Alison Leiby: Yeah, if it happens while we’re recording, it’s too late. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Yeah. They’re of course bickering like siblings do. And Barbra was like, God, Johnny I swear you complain just to hear yourself think. They finally arrive at the grave and Barbra gets down on her knees to pray. And Johnny sort of complaining about that too. And he looks up and the cemetery is empty except for them, and he sees a man in a suit at the other end of the cemetery. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t want to see someone at the cemetery. 


Halle Kiefer: And you hate to see it even worse. He’s slowly walking towards them. 


Alison Leiby: No, no, nothing. If somebody was sprinting at me, I’d be less scared that if someone was slowly walking toward me. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know. If somebody’s sprinting at you through a cemetery?


Alison Leiby: I would imagine that there’s a chance that they have, like an emergency thing. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: That they need help with. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s a great point. 


Alison Leiby: Or like Oh my God, this happened? Or Oh, my God, we have to get out of here. This is coming. Like someone slowly marching toward you is like, only bad. No one’s going to slowly walk toward you and be like, you know, there’s a sale on couches nearby. Like, it’s not going to be like. It’s going to be something bad. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: You guys come here often. Hey, you kids ever see The Matrix? [laughter] Like, of course every time Johnny looks up, we see the man shuffling closer and closer. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: And again, they’re in a cemetery. He’s got a suit. Maybe he’s probably doing the same thing they they’re doing. So again it doesn’t send out the red flags it does for us, the viewer. The eyes. Their eyes and ears. Johnny reminds Barbra, of when they were kids, and he’s like, oh remember we’d come here. When Grandpa died and then hide by the tree, I’d leap out and scare you. And he’d say—


[clip of Russell Streiner]: They’re coming to get you, Barbra. 


Halle Kiefer: And he keeps doing that. And like getting closer. 


Alison Leiby: Rude. 


Halle Kiefer: She’s like, please stop. You’re acting like a child. We are trying to pay respects for our dead father, and he’s still doing a bit. And Johnny points at the guy who’s getting closer and says, There’s one of them now Barbra. 


Alison Leiby: Don’t do that. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re coming to get you. And as a joke, he sort of like, runs away like hands flailing like he’s coming. And Barbra tries like, walk past the guy, sort of like apologetically is like, Sorry. The man lunges at her and grabs her around the neck. 


Alison Leiby: What the hell? 


Halle Kiefer: Johnny is annoying, but he’s a good brother at the end and he hauls the guy off of her and the man gets Johnny on the ground and kills him. 


Alison Leiby: What? 


Halle Kiefer: Before turning his living dead sites on Barbra. 


Alison Leiby: Okay, so he’s living dead. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s living dead, baby. 


Alison Leiby: Oh he’s living dead. 


Halle Kiefer: And we could see his face. It’s like blank stare, open jaw. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, like tattered suit coming towards Barbra. 


Alison Leiby: I think it’s almost scarier to watch to see this version of zombies than, like, the modern version where they’re like. Like when they’re really, like, heavily made up in prosthetics and, like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Almost looking like alien or inhuman because they’re so like, they’re so dead, which, like, I guess would happen if you were like an old body that comes back to life. But like. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: There’s something super chilling about it. Just being someone who looks like they might be alive.


Halle Kiefer: Right. Like this guy looks like he died a day ago. Like he. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You couldn’t tell, right? Exactly. If this guy was rotting, you could tell further away something’s wrong. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: This guy just looks like some guy slowly walking through the cemetery. Barbra, who’s wearing a trench coat and has is a blonde. Looks fabulous. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. 


Halle Kiefer: Runs. And we get one of the most iconic slip and falls, falls out of her shoe and goes, Oh. And her little shoe falls off in the grass. And she we see her look back, horrified. Fortunately, Barbra makes it back to the car. Unfortunately, Johnny must have the keys in his pocket. 


Alison Leiby: Oh no. 


Halle Kiefer: So the doors are unlocked thankfully so she’s able to get in, which even that like that’s no, that would not be true now, like you would just be locked out of your car. 


Alison Leiby: No your car is like, I don’t recognize your face and it’s like— [laughter]


Halle Kiefer: And the car just explodes. [laughter] She’s able to get inside, lock the doors. Alison, the living dead guy starts clawing at the windows, and then in an even worse development, he turns and picks up a huge rock and he smashes in the window. The living dead know about rocks Alison. 


Alison Leiby: No, and glass breaking? That’s not fair.


Halle Kiefer: They know about implements. I agree. 


Alison Leiby: That’s bad. 


Halle Kiefer: Not good. Fortunately for Barbra, she’s quick thinking. And they parked on a hill. So she releases the parking brake and the car starts to roll down the hill. And luckily she picks up enough speed so she gets some distance between the living dead guy. But then also she doesn’t have a ton of control, so she ends up slamming into a tree. Essentially like blowing out her headlight and the car comes to a stop. And she has to get out and barefoot sprint through fields as the living dead guy chases her. 


Alison Leiby: Oh my God. 


Halle Kiefer: Because he’s not running full sprint. He’s not like 28 days later. 


Alison Leiby: Right right right. 


Halle Kiefer: But he’s not slow. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: Like he’s like walking pretty fast. So she’s able to keep distance in front of her or between them. But but he’s gaining ground still. In the distance, she sees a big white farmhouse and she runs to it. She’s frantically pounding on the door. Finally, she gets around the back and gets in the back door and she’s able to lock it behind her. The house appears to be empty. And Barbra, again everyone in this movie—


Alison Leiby: It’s like, that’s good and bad. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. Everyone’s doing the best they can. She goes and grabs a butcher knife out of the kitchen and she slowly is making way into the rooms and they’re dark and they’re sort of like, should you turn on the light? But if it’s dark and they can’t see you either. So she you know, you can see her trying to make those decisions. And outside we see the living dead guy run into the telephone line connecting to the house, and he swats at it like he ran into a big cobweb. 


Alison Leiby: Wouldn’t that kill you? I mean, like, if you were like, that’s. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t think so. 


Alison Leiby: Or, not telephone lines. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s. It’s a line from the telephone line from the house. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, yeah, yeah. That’s fine. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s like is that the electrical line? 


Alison Leiby: Right. Right, right. Okay got it.


Halle Kiefer: But I mean, yeah, I guess it also, if it was, he’s already dead. So I don’t think in this situation that would kill him. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Okay, great. 


Halle Kiefer: If only, I wish he’d exploded. But unfortunately he just rips the telephone line out of the house. So when Barbra goes to pick up the phone to call for help, the phone is now dead. 


Alison Leiby: Would you say that that was something he did intentionally or a happy accident? 


Halle Kiefer: Happy accident. He literally blundered into it like. [laughter] Like if you walked into a cobweb in a barn. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And he’s like, frantically, like it’s in his face. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re not sentient. They’re sentient enough to use a rock because—


Alison Leiby: But they’re not—


Halle Kiefer: —their goal is to get to a person that they know is there. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But they are not like making plans together. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Okay.


Halle Kiefer: They’re not sabotaging the house or anything like that. But a good question, because some, you know, zombies have a different level of sentience. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: But they’re a little smarter because the rock thing. So it’s like—


Alison Leiby: I mean, the rock was really shocking. 


Halle Kiefer: Just then. She looks out the window and Alison, we see that night is falling. 


Alison Leiby: Oh no. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see the living dead guy turn around and out of the darkness we see two more living dead. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: Walking towards the house. 


Alison Leiby: Do they make sounds ever? 


Halle Kiefer: These are pretty silent. Like occasionally you’ll hear like [groans] but it’s really they’re not talking and they’re not basically when they’re distressed they start to vocalize. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: But other than that, yeah, no, they’re just shuffling around silently outside the house. 


Alison Leiby: All right. 


Halle Kiefer: Barbra, of course, freaking out. Runs up the stairs, trying to hide on the second floor, and at the top of the stairs on the landing is the skinless head of a dead corpse, with the flesh having already, already been eaten away. 


Alison Leiby: Skinless—


Halle Kiefer: And it’s wide eyed stare. Alison, I got to ask you, picture yourself in this scenario. What would you do? 


[voice over]: What would you do? 


Alison Leiby: I’ll tell you what. I see a skinless head. I throw up right on it. 


Halle Kiefer: Puke puking. I would have been throwing up this whole time. Running while vomiting. 


Alison Leiby: Just projectile barfing against the wall. [laughter] I mean, all right, there’s no phone. You don’t have a car? 


Halle Kiefer: No, you have a knife. But we don’t. She does not know and we do not know if that’s really going to do much against. 


Alison Leiby: Right. It doesn’t seem like much. And then you also have to be close enough to them to use a knife. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: So that’s a problem. I’m throwing myself off the roof. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I’m like I don’t. Unless there’s a bunch of pills in the bathroom, which it doesn’t seem like, that kind of house. I mean, it would now, probably, but, yeah, I think the roof makes a lot of sense. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m definitely probably locking myself in a room and just trying. Just pissing and shitting myself and hoping that somehow this gets resolved without me dealing with them. Praying for resolution. 


Alison Leiby: You know how like living dead people. It always gets resolved without your assistance. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. You know what? [laughter] Somebody else could take care of that. I’m going to go ahead and go to sleep for the next 28 days. When I wake up, I’m sure it’ll be fine. 


Alison Leiby: It’ll be totally fine. 




Halle Kiefer: Fortunately for Barbra, Alison, she bolts down the stairs in terror and runs out the front door. She’s just not thinking. She’s obviously she wouldn’t have done that in her right mind. 


Alison Leiby: No, no, no. That’s not. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: What a thinking woman would do. 


Halle Kiefer: Just as a motorist, Ben, arrives played by the incredible Duane Jones. And I want to say that Duane Jones is a Black man, and everyone else in this movie is white. And he’s actually the first time an African-American actor was cast as a star and hero of a horror movie. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, wow. 


Halle Kiefer: And it’s one of the first times in American cinema where there was colorblind casting. So basically, this was not written to be a Black actor. The script didn’t call for one. And when sort of asked about it, George A. Romero said that Jones’s race was not a factor in casting. Romero cast him because Jones was the best actor we met to play Ben. And I will say that is the way it should be. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And also he’s excellent in this. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: Like he has several monologues where he asks to like he he sells everyone. He’s he’s absolutely incredible in this and so I don’t know. I thought it was very interesting. 


Alison Leiby: I love that.


Halle Kiefer: Because I think this is a movie that you don’t it doesn’t necessitate someone being of a certain race. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And and yet it also informs it, you know, as we see as I think when we talk about the movie overall. Yeah. But I there was I don’t know there’s something about that that again like of all of all the genres [both speaking] aren’t we all can’t we all find ourselves in a zombie apocalypse and have to work together? 


Alison Leiby: Yes. I don’t think that that’s limited just to something that white people have to experience. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. Absolutely. And also, excuse me, all of the zombies are white. So something to think about. 


Alison Leiby: I was going to ask, is anyone else in this movie not white? 


Halle Kiefer: No. I believe everyone else is white. And to be fair, they’re supposed to be in rural Pennsylvania. 


Alison Leiby: Which like. 


Halle Kiefer: So maybe at the time it would have been a white area so the zombies would be more white. That’s what I presume. 


Alison Leiby: That, you know, that tracks for me. 


Halle Kiefer: And if we’re wrong, we’re sorry. You know, we’re not smart. 


Alison Leiby: We don’t know anything. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Ben grabs Barbra as she’s running out, and then hauls her back inside just as one of the living dead staggers up the porch, right? He locks the doors and says don’t worry about them. There’ll be a lot more of them when they find out that we’re here. So now I’m like, okay, well, now we’re afraid of that. Like a bunch more of them are going to show up. 


Alison Leiby: Right I’m like, they know we’re here. Are they communicating? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Ben assumes that Barbra is the homeowner, but Barbra is so shellshocked she can’t even talk. So he’s trying to talk to her about, like, what she has in the house. And she says, you know, I. I actually stole that truck. It’s out of gas. But I see you have a gas pump near the barn, but it’s locked. If you give me the key, I can we can gas up that truck and we can get the fuck out of here. Of course, she doesn’t have a key, but she’s so stunned. She can’t even tell him that, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So, Ben, again, very resourceful. He says like, okay, what? Let me go through this house, picks up the phone, which is dead, and says, Oh, you probably thought of that, didn’t you? And finally asked her, Do you live here? But Barbra just looks up the stairs, and when he climbs the stairs, he sees the skinless corpse. He’s like, okay, something bad happened here, so this lady can’t talk to me about this. Okay.


Alison Leiby: And it’s like all she did was see it. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: We don’t even know how we got here.


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. But he’s trying to talk to her. He’s like, Okay, I’m gonna check for food. When we get out of here, we can take some food with us, you know? And Barbra looks up, and there’s blood running from the faceless corpse down from the second floor. 


Alison Leiby: So it was, like, recently defaced. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. So I think we’re gonna think, like, pretty much right before she got here. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: There was some that something had gone on with the homeowner. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And finally, Barbra is able to speak and she says what is happening. [laughter] But before Ben can answer, we see the living dead, two of them, and they’re just kicking the shit out of Ben’s truck. They’re just smashing the headlights. 


Alison Leiby: Oh my God. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re just attacking the car sort of mindlessly. Like it doesn’t look like there’s a plan. It just sort of like the car is there. So they’re kind of trying to eat it or tear it apart or something. [laughter] Yeah, they’re not a they’re not a gang with a plan, you know? 


Alison Leiby: No. But, you know, they’re doing stuff. They’re working together. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. He says, okay, if there’s only two of them, he’s looking out. There’s like, there’s only two right now. I could take care of them. Alison, Ben goes outside with a not a tire iron, but one of those, like it’s like a curved metal thing and you undo the, the like the hubcap with it. What do you call that?


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: A metal car implement. 


Alison Leiby: I know what it is, but I, I’ll never know what it’s called. 


Halle Kiefer: And he goes up to the to the living dead guys and just starts smashing their skulls in with this metal implement. 


Alison Leiby: All right, all right. Somebody has taken some action. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. And the other one grabs at him. But Ben has the ultimate upper hand. Alison. He’s alive. [laughter]


Alison Leiby: Oh yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Which means he can actually think and move and like, plan. Unfortunately, when he ran outside, Alison, he made a couple of fatal mistakes are made and every fatal mistake is, of course, leaving the goddamn door open. People.


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I, I do feel like in general, that’s something that in movies, it’s just like, just I know you’re in a rush. I know you’re frantic. I know there’s kind of a lot going on. Just always double check if, like doors are open or closed, if windows are open or closed, if you need to just like address that stuff. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. So Ben kills these two, but he does not see that a third living dead guy wanders inside and Barbra’s in the living room just like collapsed in chair, sobbing like, what’s happening? What’s happening? And of course, never leave the damn door open when the living dead are afoot. Luckily, Ben runs inside just in time. The living dead guy went to attack Barbra and kills the other living dead guy by beating his head in. Right. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, you’re not gonna believe this. Ben has left the damn door open again behind him. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. Ben. The doors. 


Halle Kiefer: And out the door, we see at least four or five more living dead, staggering towards the house. 


Alison Leiby: So when he like bashes their heads in. What happens to them? 


Halle Kiefer: They fall motionless and it’s not like they’re dead. It’s said they can’t move anymore. Does that make sense? 


Alison Leiby: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, I think we’re think their bodies are still animate, but they can’t walk. So you can kind of leave them there and know they’re going to be okay. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. Okay. Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So I guess they’re still alive in whatever way they are alive. 


Alison Leiby: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: But they’re no longer a threat. Ben’s able to get the door closed as the new gang of living dead arrive, and he tells Barbra they know we’re in here now. Meanwhile, like she’s just standing over this dead body that Ben just beat to a pulp, and she sees its eyes are still moving around. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, that’s in the trailer.


Halle Kiefer: So again. He can’t move because his brain is smashed in. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, very chilling. 


Halle Kiefer: But it’s still sentient in some sense. So Ben very thoughtfully takes the the living dead guy, takes it, throws it out in front of the porch, douses it in kerosene, takes out matches, sets it alight. 


Alison Leiby: All right. 


Halle Kiefer: And not only does this destroy the living dead guy, but it also the fire scares the other ones away. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. I would imagine that that is something that they’re afraid of. 


Halle Kiefer: I was like, you want Ben in a crisis? I think Ben is probably our number one final boy. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Competent.


Halle Kiefer: Like he is like he’s coming up with a plan. It’s him and the woman from You’re Next. Do you remember that? The home invasion. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re all. It’s a rich person’s house. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And it turns out she was raised in a survivalist cult. 


Alison Leiby: She’s like a survivalist. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: Or something. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You want them? Those are. Those are the people you want. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And so Ben turns to Barbra. Barbra is still barely able to, like, talk or respond. Right. And he’s like, okay, with you in mind, turn on some lights in this house. We’re going to go and we’re going to start nailing like boards and whatever we can find over the windows and doors. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Because if we’re stuck here, then we’re going to barricade ourselves in. And I was like, okay, you got to have a plan, right? 


Alison Leiby: I mean, this is a pretty good plan. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Because I would imagine that they will eventually, if they can’t get through something to the people that they’ll like, give up and move on. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, Alison, you’d think so, but unfortunately— [laughs]


Alison Leiby: Oh no. One track minds.


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Once they know there’s fresh meat inside. 


Alison Leiby: They won’t stop. 


Halle Kiefer: And he gives Barbra, like, a big box and nails he finds. He’s going through all the drawers, like finding tools and implements. Like he’s really thinking categorically about, like, what needs to be done. And Barbra is standing there with a box of nails, and Ben starts to yell at her to snap out of it. But he’s like, he calms himself down, he’s like you know what? I know you’re scared. I’m scared, too. But we got to board up this house. Okay? 


Alison Leiby: That’s like we don’t really hear that enough. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: In these movies, like, acknowledging, like, this is terrifying, but, like, let’s work together. 


Halle Kiefer: And I think a great example of, like, he is who you want in a crisis. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Not only because he’s very competent, but because he’s also very calm. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, the calmness. 


Halle Kiefer: And trying to keep control of the situation. Right. Because if we start arguing, then there’s conflict and we all lose control. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So Barbra kind of wanders around like half heartedly looking for wood and he Ben just starts nailing everything closed. Right? He finds an old door and he nails the old door horizontal across the front door, which Barbra helps him hold it up. So the front door at least is blocked off pretty substantially.


Alison Leiby: All right.


Halle Kiefer: The problem, of course, Alison, as you may have been thinking, is once the living dead are blocked out, you are blocked in. So it’s like, how do you—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —deal with that? But you can always jump from the second story. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: If you had to, get on the roof, you know, And he starts to talk to her about it like as they go from room to room, boarding up all of the windows. He says basically he was at Beekman’s Diner, which is down the road. And he this truck was just on and the radio was on. So he got into the truck just to listen to the radio. And as he did, a gasoline truck slams into the gas station. Next to this diner. 


Alison Leiby: What? 


Halle Kiefer: And shears the pump off. And as he watches, the gas truck is covered in ten or 15 of the living dead. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: And the truck slams through a guardrail. The gas is everywhere and the truck catches on fire. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And Ben says, I can still hear the driver screaming. And so Ben tries to run to the diner. 


Alison Leiby: Oh my God. Right.


Halle Kiefer: To call for help because he doesn’t know what the fuck’s going on. 


Alison Leiby: Well, of course, I mean, like, you see that you’re like, I can’t. This isn’t just a me problem. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: Like, I got to let somebody else know what’s happening here. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Alison by the time he gets the diner, there are 50 or 60 living dead, swarming around the diner. 


Alison Leiby: Where are they coming from? 


Halle Kiefer: And he says, and at that point, the driver wasn’t screaming anymore. So I said, fuck it. So he gets in the truck, he starts to drive, and he says—


[clip of Duane Jones]: I just plowed right through them. They didn’t move. They didn’t run or. Just stood there staring at me. Just wanted to crush them. 


Halle Kiefer: I was like, this is the audition monologue. Like, this is like this is it. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes.


Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, the whole time he’s telling us he’s dismantling the dining room table like he’s taking of the legs off. He’s breaking it down, like, seamlessly as he’s telling this very harrowing story. And it’s a great scene. Finally, Barbra is able to then reply and say, like she and her brother Johnny, came to town to put a wreath on her father’s grave. And she starts laughing because she’s so out of it. She’s like, Johnny, asked me if I was afraid. I said, I’m not afraid. And the man started to come up the road and Ben sort of sees her, starts to freak out, he’s like, Hey, you know what? Let’s keep it calm. Let’s just hey, you know, we’ve both been through something and she starts freaking out and she says, the living dead guy, murdered my brother. And I was like, can zombies technically murder? 


Alison Leiby: Well, I guess you’re. It’s like I guess it depends on how you define they are alive versus dead. Right? 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Because, like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: If they just turn you into a zombie, like you’re not dead, but you’re not alive anymore. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Yeah, you got me there, Alison. 


Alison Leiby: So, I don’t know, some new third thing that’s terrible that I’m sure we’ll have to deal with in the future somehow. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Barbra tells Ben. Because now she’s kind of, like, becoming more and more hysterical. She says we have to go out and find Johnny. My brother’s out there alone. Ben’s like, All right, well. 


Alison Leiby: He’s dead. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t think we’re going to do that. And she runs away and she grabs Ben and she screams, My brother is alone. And Ben says, Your brother is dead. So Barbra tries to run to the back door, which isn’t boarded up yet. And when Ben stops her, she slaps him across the face. And as was the fashion of the time, he slaps her right back and she faints. 


Alison Leiby: Yep. 


Halle Kiefer: Which is honestly for the best. Like, I would rather just be out for this. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, make me unconscious, but in like, a humane way. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And he puts her on the couch to sleep, and as he’s working, boarding up the windows, he’s able to get the radio working. And luckily, there’s still power in the house. And the radio announcer says this is the latest of what we know. There’s an epidemic of mass murder being committed by a virtual army of unidentified assassins. The murders are taking place in villages, cities, rural homes and suburbs with no apparent pattern or reason for the slayings. There seems to be a sudden explosion of mass homicide. We have some descriptions of the assassins. Eyewitnesses say they are ordinary looking people. Some say they appear to be in some kind of trance. Alison, as he boards out the window, Ben looks outside to see a small crowd of the living dead gathering. And I would add, I would ask again, what would you do? Because to me. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: This is like, okay, so the first okay, whatever. So, Alison, what would you do? Part two. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, well. Again, I’m throwing myself off the roof. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: Like there’s no there. There’s less of a path forward for me now than there was the first go around. So maybe. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: This is it. We gave it a go. It’s the end. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, as a Catholic, you’re taught not to die by suicide. But let me just say, if I was in the situation and that’s how I went out and I had to stand before the throne of God, I’d say, This one’s on you bitch. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: This one’s not on me. Okay? People say, God didn’t give you more than you could handle. That’s simply not the case. I wouldn’t be able to handle this. He listens to the radio some more. And we hear, of course, the mayors of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Miami, along with governors of several Eastern and Midwestern states, have indicated that the National Guard will be mobilized, but it hasn’t been yet. [both speaking] So this is the entire Eastern seaboard. 


Alison Leiby: Jesus. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, moving into Pennsylvania. Which is very The Happening, right. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Because I feel like that also happened on the Eastern seaboard. Ben, meanwhile, is just like make, he’s taking a cloth and wrapping it around a table leg and making a torch out of it with kerosene. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, the survival skills and just like good cognitive reasoning that Ben has, I’m like—


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: How does one like when I’m confronted with no living dead, I’m still like just melting into a puddle of idiocy? Like, I’m just like, I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m gonna lie down.


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I would be. I would have to eat more just so I could vomit more. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.


Halle Kiefer: Does that make sense? 


Alison Leiby: Of course it does. 


Halle Kiefer: I know, but all I’m like, I have to refuel because that’s the only thing I know how to do. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So but he’s trying to create another fire to drive the horde away. And so he takes out an armchair, douses it, and sets it on fire to drive the living dead back into the tree line again because they’re getting too close to the house. The radio says the president is meeting with top scientists and military experts about what to do, but there has been no official presidential declaration of how to respond. We see Barbra wake up as Ben takes an interior door off its hinges and uses that to board up the back door. Right. And finally, Ben collapses on the couch and takes out a cigarette. He’s exhausted, but he he’s not going to rest on his laurels, so he goes to the coat closet and he finds shoes for Barbra. Which I thought, was very sweet. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, good. 


Halle Kiefer: And finally he finds a rifle and a shoe box full of bullets. 


Alison Leiby: Okay, finally. 


Halle Kiefer: So at least we have a gun. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And Barbra is now awake, still catatonic, but is sitting on the couch. He says the place is boarded up pretty solid. We have food, the radio works, and we’re in better shape than most people. And on the radio, we hear them say, do what, essentially do what essentially Ben and Barbra doing board yourself up, stay home. Do not go out like barricade yourself wherever you are. Like if you’re at work, stay at work. You know, just sort of try to stay—


Alison Leiby: If you’re in line. Stay in line. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. And he says to her, Barbra, I don’t know if you can really hear me right now, but I’m going to go upstairs. Okay. And when he does, we hear Barbra listening to the radio announcer say the victims of the assassins have been found partially devoured by their murderers. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, partially. Oh, I prefer completely devoured, if we’re being honest. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we hate to hear it, but hard enough to be murdered. 


Alison Leiby: Hate to hear it. 


Halle Kiefer: And then be devoured by your murderer. 


Alison Leiby: Devoured by your murderer. I mean, that is really. 


Halle Kiefer: Rude. It is rude. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s terrifically rude. Upstairs, we see Ben drag the dead, faceless body from the second floor into a bedroom sort of just to get it out of the way. Again, the radio here out of Cumberland, Maryland. Authorities say the killers are eating the flesh of the people they kill. And as Barbra listens, she sees a hand emerge from behind the cellar. 


Alison Leiby: No hands. 


Halle Kiefer: A white hand. So we know it’s not Ben. And the door pulls back and she screams and Ben runs downstairs. It turns out there’s just two fucking guys in the basement. 


Alison Leiby: Okay? The whole time? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And they’re like, Don’t shoot. We’re from town. And they run over to the radio like you have a radio? Turns out they were hiding down there. And Ben says, How long were you fucking down here? You heard us up here. Like I could have used some help. And he’s like, Wait, you heard a woman screaming and you didn’t come to help. And Harry, the much angrier guy, says, Oh, oh, okay. So we find a good space to hide, and we’re supposed to, like, risk our lives to help somebody else. And you know that his options are, one, he will die helping someone else or he will not die. He will not help someone else, and it will lead to his death. Those are his only two options. Where it’s like, yeah, bitch. Sorry. It’s all hands on deck during the zombie apocalypse, you know. Harry’s saying everyone has to come downstairs to hide in the cellar. The cellar is the safest place. And I’m like, maybe if there’s, like, a cellar door, like a second exit. 


Alison Leiby: Right but. 


Halle Kiefer: But to be trapped under the ground with one way out. 


Alison Leiby: If it’s one in one. It’s one way and one way out like that just never feels like the right place to be in these kinds of scenarios. 


Halle Kiefer: Tom, who’s like a younger guy is trying to explain like he’s like, Harry is really upset. His wife, Helen, and his daughter Karen are in the cellar and Karen was injured. So I think Harry’s just really amped up and he wants everyone to go in the cellar. And Harry keeps insisting all of them, including Ben and Barbra, go into the cellar. And, you know, Ben’s saying, look, there’s just a handful of them. I could take care of them. Like we have radio, we have food, we have like access to exits. And Harry says the issue is not a handful. The issue is what happens when 20 or 30 or 100 of them swarm the house. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Well, I mean. 


Halle Kiefer: Which. 


Alison Leiby: Again. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: I’ll happily already be dead because I threw myself off the roof. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: And Ben says, Well, that’s the case. It probably won’t matter where we are. 


Alison Leiby: It’s true. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, it’s like if 100 people get in then the door will give way under their weight. Like, then there’s nothing we can literally do. And that’s why I’m like, at least if you’re on the first floor, they can run up to the roof and try to like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You know what I mean? The cellar seems—


Alison Leiby: It’s literally a grave. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I mean, your own grave. One door breaks at 100 zombies eat your kid. It seems like the worst way to go. 


Alison Leiby: The end. 


Halle Kiefer: And so Tom is persuaded by Ben pointing all this out, and he’s like, Ben is right. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Ben is right. 


Halle Kiefer: And Ben says to Harry, I’m sorry, the cellar is a death trap. And Harry says, You can decide for yourself, but I’m going to go down there and board up the door and save my family. So Tom’s in Ben’s camp, so he is sort of there talking about it. It is a little less convincing when just then the living dead stick their arm through one of the windows that Ben was boarding up. [sighs] And so they have to run over and grab. Tom grabs a piece of wood and he starts hitting their hands. And because they’re dead, their fingers are cracked. 


Alison Leiby: Oh my God. 


Halle Kiefer: And falling off, but they’re still reaching with the arm. 


Alison Leiby: Yuck. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see Ben take the shotgun on and shoot the living dead in the chest and it doesn’t kill them. But finally he shoots one in the head and he drops. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So it’s like, okay, if you shoot him in the head, we’re good. Alison. They look out and see literally dozens living dead. 


Alison Leiby: No, no. 


Halle Kiefer: Approaching the house out of the darkness. And Harry says, I told you, and Ben says, then go to the cellar already, like we’re going to stay up here, board yourself the fuck up. I’m not going to tell you, you know, to go for it. And Harry says. I have a kid down there. You don’t understand. And Ben says I feel bad for your kid. Bad their father’s so stupid. [laughter] And they get into an argument.  I was like that’s so funny and mean. And he says to Harry, you might be the boss down here, but up here I’m the boss. So if you’re up here, you can’t ask crazy. You have to listen to me. So here, Harry storms off to go downstairs and Tom call his Judy his girlfriend, Judy. So Judy was downstairs. And now Tom and Judy are joining Ben and Barbra upstairs. Harry is going back down with his wife, Helen, and their sick kid, Karen. Right. And Harry goes down and he slams the cellar door, he has like one board, and he boards it up and he storms down there and Karen’s not. Karen’s looking worse for wear. She’s laying on a makeshift cot, and he tells her, there are two more people in the house. And Helen says, yeah, we heard them screaming like, what are you talking about? Like, and you didn’t do anything. They do not know what’s wrong with Karen, right? She has a fever, but she’s really out of it. So they’re like, is it shock? Like what is what is happening? Right. And Harry tells Helen, well, the radio says no one knows what’s going on and we should just stay here anyways. And Helen says, There’s a fucking radio? Take the board off the door. We have to be listening to the radio. Like, what are you talking about? What if they tell us new information? 


Alison Leiby: Information could be out there. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, and if that wasn’t enough of an incentive, Tom calls through the door and says that Ben found a TV upstairs and they’re going to bring the TV downstairs to the living room. And Helen says, Please take the board off the door. At least as of right now, it seems like everything’s okay. If we have to board up later, fine. 


Alison Leiby: It’s not okay, but all right. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. But right now there’s other people. And I want to watch the TV, you know, and just to take the edge off even. But for the news. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I mean, just something to do. 


Halle Kiefer: So Helen asks Judy to sit with Karen for a few minutes while she listens to the updates, and Judy obliges her. And Helen says, basically, could you please just let me know if she looks worse. She’s all I have. So now we have Judy with the comatose Karen in the cellar, and everyone is upstairs plugging in the TV and figure out how to get the news.


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And Tom tells Helen about Barbra. You know, her brother was killed by these things, and Helen takes out a cigarette, which looks absolutely fucking delicious, like everyone’s smoking. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: In this movie I’m like, God, I want a cigarette so bad. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, like in that, in that long sixties way where you’re like, that wasn’t dangerous. You know, like— [laughter]


Halle Kiefer: Listen at a time like that, I would have except I’m allergic to them now, so I would have an asthma attack and that’s just the only way to make a zombie apocalypse worse, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Harry comes in and he’s ranting and raving about, like, all these windows have weak spots. They’re not properly boarded up. But also he can’t see out of them because they’re so well boarded up. So he’s complaining about both of them [laughter] and they’re like, Harry, shut the fuck up. 


Alison Leiby: Only one thing can be true. 


Halle Kiefer: So they plug in the news and we get the best news report. The anchor says—


[clip of news report]: The wave of murder, which is sweeping the eastern third of the nation, is being committed by creatures who feast upon the flesh of their victims. 


Alison Leiby: Imagine hearing that. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, I would care to like I wouldn’t like that at all, Alison. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I wouldn’t want to know that. Wouldn’t want to hear that. And just then, while he’s on air, the anchor gets handed a new report from the government basically find out that it’s people who have recently died who have been returning to life and committing acts of murder. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So you’re right. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: They are the unburied dead. So they’re saying they’re coming alive in morgues, hospitals, anywhere where there’s recent unburied, dead—


Alison Leiby: See this is a little bit of why I would go cremation. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Where it’s just like no chance.


Halle Kiefer: Right. I mean, a tip of the hat, you know, to the living. Just just on the odd chance this happens, you know? And it would be an odd chance. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, very odd. 


Halle Kiefer: Based on the report, the anchor says the new emergency course of action is not to hunker down at home, but is to make your way to the emergency safety locations, which will be manned by armed National Guardsmen. And then they just are running a list on the screen continuously. So this is like the local affiliate. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So they’re running it for Pennsylvania, right? 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So it’s like school closing. And Ben says, well, fuck, if we can get the lock off the gas pump at the barn, we could drive to one of the rescue stations. And we even see that there is a town called Willard that’s 17 miles away that has a rescue station. So like, if we could get to that station. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: We at least we’re. We’re in better shape right. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, on TV, the anchor says the president still has emergency meetings. We have to ask, why are space experts now being called to the White House to consult on this matter? 


Alison Leiby: I mean. I would bring in whoever we have. 


Halle Kiefer: Whoever we have.  


Alison Leiby: From anything. What are we like? Is this from space? Is this from the ocean? Is this a virus. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Is this from television? Right. Like, I don’t know. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: Like I would. I’d get one of everybody in there. 


Halle Kiefer: So it turns out that the anchor says that this is causing speculation that this is linked to a recent Explorer satellite satellite that was shot to Venus and sort of slingshots back to Earth, but it never arrived. And the reason it arrived is that NASA destroyed it when it was coming close to the planet because it’s found to be carrying a high power radiation. And they’re like, it’s too dangerous to let it into Earth. So the anchor says, is that radiation connected to the phenomenon? Now, Alison, does that make one lick of sense to you? 


Alison Leiby: I don’t know. 


Halle Kiefer: Me either. 


Alison Leiby: No. Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: But I hear that I’m like makes sense. That’s what caused it.


Alison Leiby: I’m like, Oh, yes, of course. Space radiation is why all these recently dead people are now kind of undead and eating people like, yeah, sure, why not? I don’t have a better answer. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m not a scientist. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see reporters mobbing like clearly a general and two scientists walking out of the White House. And it’s like they wouldn’t let them talk to reporters. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: But one of the scientists is like, it was enough radiation to cause the mutation we’re seeing. And then one of them goes later and they jump in a car. And I love that saying later as in like, what? There is an apocalypse happening.


Alison Leiby: Wait, like they like, like later, like, like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Like as a sign off? Not like as I’m imagining. Like. Later. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, I mean, they may even saying later like, hey, we’ll talk later. But the way they said it, the inflection was later. 


Alison Leiby: [laughs] That’s so funny. I didn’t think that that was something anybody said in the sixties.


Halle Kiefer: Well, maybe that’s when it originated. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Because it was, it did kind of have like a young like, you know, like—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Like a—


Halle Kiefer: Bitchy energy. Yeah, hippie energy. Finally they’re looking and we see Willard come up again and they’re like, okay, the Willard has a rescue station. And Helen says, if they have medical supplies, we have to help Karen because that’s the other part of this is like, our kid is sick. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: We can’t just let her die in the fucking cellar, you know what I mean, like, we have to figure this out, right? 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And on TV, they basically say, like, if you are sick or unwell, please try to come here. There’s no like, you can’t go to a hospital. You can’t go to a doctor, like, please just come to the rescue station for anything. Everything is going to be located there. Just then a Dr. Grimes comes on the station [laughs] who was was like a expert on this and says—


Alison Leiby: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: If you could kill the creatures and set them on fire, burn them to destroy the body. It’s like, okay, great. So good to know. 


Alison Leiby: Got it. Something. 


Halle Kiefer: Ben again, he is our leader. He leaps into action, he starts mobilizing, and even Harry’s trying to be helpful. And says, You know what you said you need a key for the pump. There’s a ring of keys downstairs. Tom runs down there. Alison, It has the key to the gas pump. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. Ben’s plan is he and Tom are going to take the truck and drive to the gas pump, unlock it, refuel the truck, come back, and it’s not too far. It’s just that there are zombies outside. 


Alison Leiby: Right, right, right. 


Halle Kiefer: Harry is. We’re going to they’re Judy’s is going to make help Harry make Molotov cocktails out of kerosene and rags that he’ll that Harry will light and throw out the window to create like a line of fire that will drive the zombies back away from the truck. So I’m like, this is actually a great plan, right? 


Alison Leiby: Wow, this is so thought out and like, makes sense with the information we have. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. So and Ben just says, listen, we have to run out the backdoor. Harry, do not nail it shut. We will not be gone long. I’m just telling you. And Harry’s like, okay, I won’t. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, boy. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see Judy’s talking to Tom, and she’s like, Why do you have to go? Tom’s like, Well, I don’t know. We don’t have a lot of all hands on deck, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, right. There’s not a whole pool of people to choose from. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And Judy says, My folks are going to be so worried. And he says, you know, we’ll call them from the Willard station. Honestly, they might even be there. It’s like, no, they probably got eaten by zombies bud. 


Alison Leiby: Probably dead. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And she’s like, I don’t know, I think we should stay here. And he’s like, Judy remember when we had the big flood and it took you forever to be convinced to leave, and then it turns out there was a big flood. We got to go. We got to go, girl. 


Alison Leiby: Okay, okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Hey, you know, okay. And she says, I know. I just don’t want you to go outside. He’s like, I will be right back. As soon as they kiss, you know, Tom, as dead as dog shit. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: There is no way this motherfucker’s coming back. And so the all the women, except for all the women are going to go in the cellar with Karen. Harry will be upstairs lobbing cocktails, and then Ben and Tom will run out to the truck and go to the gas station. And so the back door is currently boarded up. So they pull the boards off and right before they open the door, Ben tells Tom, Good luck, Alison. With this perfect break into Act three, I got to ask you, who will survive? 


[voice over]: Who will survive?


Alison Leiby: I’m going to go out on a limb and say, Ben. Is our only real living person left at the end. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay. 


Alison Leiby: I want to say that Karen makes it, but I feel like everybody kind of like. Doesn’t. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, you. You’re picking up what the movie’s put down here, Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So Ben yells upstairs, Harry, throw it. Harry tries lighting and throwing the Molotov cocktails. This part works great. The living dead hate this. They’re driven back. Some of them—


Alison Leiby: They would hate it. 


Halle Kiefer: Some of them catch on fire as they get too close to the kerosene, like spatters on them. So there’s, like, burning zombies, like, wandering into the trees. [laughter]


Alison Leiby: And are they running or are they still walking? 


Halle Kiefer: They’re still walking, but they’re a little more distressed. [laughter] So they’re not like sprinting or anything. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And so he runs downstairs. Ben and Tom run out to the truck. Okay? They make it to the truck. Tom’s able to start it. Alison, Judy cannot stand the idea of Tom being out there alone. Judy runs out after them, and Harry slams the door behind her. And Tom looks up with horror. But then Ben says, If you’re coming, you’re coming and throws her in the trunk, too. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Okay. Yeah, that’s the way to go. Like, we got to just move forward. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: You can’t argue about stuff. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So Tom and Judy are in the the front of the truck, and then Ben gets in the back because he’s made a torch out of a table leg, and he’s fending off the zombies who are following them slowly, but they’re still following them. Right. And Harry is watching this through a crack in the boarded up windows, and he is wigging out like he’s just like [screams] which I would too, you know, just freaking out. Finally, they get to the barn. The gas pump is locked, Alison, the key will not work in the pump. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: So Ben just makes a game time decision, shoots the lock off. And it works, because, of course, I’m like—


Alison Leiby: Thank God. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, my God, you’re going to shoot gas pump is going to explode. Right.


Alison Leiby: No, but it’s just the lock. Okay it works.


Halle Kiefer: Alison. Unfortunately, when Tom takes the nozzle off the pump, it’s as he goes to put it in, it sort of sprays gasoline on the side of the truck and it sprays onto the lit torch that Ben had and the side of the truck catches on fire. Ben screams, Get away from the pump, because now, like there’s a literally a line of fire from the pump to the truck. So he’s concerned the pump is going to explode. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. And so he’s trying to use a blanket that was in the truck to put out the grass so at least the pump won’t explode. But as Tom and Judy back up the truck, the truck is still on fire. And Tom, a little distance away. Tom slams on the brake, says we have to get out of the truck and he gets out. Alison, when Judy goes to leave, she says to Tom, my jacket’s stuck. And Tom turns back to help her and the truck explodes, killing both of them. This could not have got worse. [laughs] This really could not have gone worse. 


Alison Leiby: It was such a good plan. 


Halle Kiefer: It was such a good plan. 


Alison Leiby: And they were doing so much right. And then it just all fell apart on them in a way that it’s like, look, you’re doing your best. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. And this is exactly what would happen. It’s like everyone have their ducks in a row. And then one thing, it’s a cascading effect, right? 


Alison Leiby: And then it’s all over and they’re just scrambling. 


Halle Kiefer: And of course, Harry is watching the window like I knew it. We should have stayed in the cellar. I knew it, you know. And so Ben is now near the barn. And between him and the house are about 30 zombies, which, by the way, they never use the word zombie. They use ghouls, but they haven’t introduced the term ghouls yet in the movie. But I love. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: When they bring up ghouls because it’s like. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, we all love when they bring up ghouls. 


Halle Kiefer: And so now he has to fend them off with a torch and a rifle. And he’s basically fighting 30 zombies and he’s able to get back to the house and he calls for Harry. 


Alison Leiby: Shocking. 


Halle Kiefer: Let me in. 


Alison Leiby: Oh no. 


Halle Kiefer: And of course, Harry’s standing in the cellar door, not helping, not opening the door. And Ben’s able to basically break the door open. 


Alison Leiby: What? 


Halle Kiefer: But at least Harry does the right thing and runs back and helps him put the door, the spare door up to nail it back over the door. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And but then as soon as they’re done, Ben turns just fucking punches Harry, in his fucking face. 


Alison Leiby: Good. 


Halle Kiefer: And is kicking his ass and he screams at him. I should drag you other and fucking feed you those things. And finally he relents. And outside we see the zombies tearing apart Judy and Tom’s dead bodies fighting over their intestines like dogs. And it is really effective because they’re all, like, under the shadow of a trees. So serve the shadows moving all over their faces when they’re eating like a rib bone, you know?


Alison Leiby: Yeah. There’s like, a scene in the trailer that I watch where it’s like someone just gnawing on a bone, kind of like, half shrouded in darkness. And I was like, Oh, this is awful. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Ben, of course, collapses into a chair and Helen comes up to sit with. So we have Harry, Barbra and Ben upstairs because at 3 a.m. there’s going to be another update from the news. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And he’s so Ben, so still making plans. So he’s like, okay, do you know this area? And she says, well, we were just driving through. We’re trying to find a motel before dark. And when we by the time we got to the zombies, they overturned our car and Ben saying, okay, well, how far away was that? If we worked together. I bet we could turn it back over. And I would be at the point where it’s like, I’m going to kill myself. You could throw my body to distract them while everyone else runs away. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Use me. 


Halle Kiefer: I can’t. I cannot. Of all the things I know I can’t do, it’s helped turn a car back over. There is no way. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: We would be—


Alison Leiby: Not a chance. 


Halle Kiefer: We would be more helpful as a buffet. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And finally, Ben thinks to ask, How did your kid get sick? Alison? They tell him one of those things grabbed her and bit her on the arm, and Harry says she’s too sick to move. And Ben says, Okay, I’m going to try to go alone. You can’t turn a car over alone. And Barbra, who again, has been silent this whole time, says. You know, if you could. If you could. Our car. But Johnny has the keys and Ben realizes, Oh, you have a car, where is it? And it’s not too far away. But again, like the key problem. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Cause she. Yeah. Walked over there so.


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. So he’s trying to like, be like, okay, how come we get that car? Like, hotwire it? Ben is not giving up. You know what I mean?


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I mean, you need someone like Ben in the mix if you’re in this scenario. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: Again. We are not, Ben. 


Halle Kiefer: We could not do this.


Alison Leiby: Could never be Ben. 


Halle Kiefer: We really admire him. 


Alison Leiby: Thank you, Ben. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison. The news comes on. Apparently, the mysterious radiation is actually increasing on Earth. 


Alison Leiby: Great. 


Halle Kiefer: So they say whoever dies during this crisis must be killed and cremated, or they will also be resurrected. And finally, they refer to the living dead as ghouls. And I love thinking of them as ghouls. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, they’re ghouls. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see some very what is I think it’s 1968. Right? And so I think now we know enough to be this is you see basically a battalion of white men with guns being dispatched by a police chief. And it is a very it strikes a chord that I think now we we are more aware of how horrifying that is you know what I mean? 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: But also Romero, you know, he’s he’s a political filmmaker. Like we’re setting up an element of the authorities are going to come in and try to fix things. You remember what happened when the authorities  showed up in The Crazies. You know, this is obviously. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Ahead of that not but. 


Alison Leiby: Not the best. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So we see the police chief on the news. He says you have to shoot the ghouls in the head. Or if you don’t have a gun, you could beat their skulls in. So one on one, you can kill a ghoul, and they can’t move as fast and they’re not as smart. So one on one a human could take out a ghoul it’s when they show up in a throng. 


Alison Leiby: It’s the numbers. 


Halle Kiefer: And the reporter says to the police chief, do you think you could wrap this up in 24 hours. [laughter]


Alison Leiby: Yeah, no problem. 


Halle Kiefer: The chief says I don’t know. But we’re making our way towards Willard, and we’ve killed 19 of them since yesterday. So he’s actually in their area making their way towards Willard. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Towards this rescue station. Right, Alison, the light suddenly go out. And Harry is terrified and basically said to Helen I need to get that rifle away from Ben. We need a barricade ourselves in the cellar with that rifle. Alison, there’s no time for that because the ghouls have decided in mass to attack the house. I don’t know how that decision was made, but they’re all attacking the house. 


Alison Leiby: Some kind of groupthink. 


Halle Kiefer: And one of them grabs like the table like torch that Ben dropped outside and starts smashing through the windows, much like the rock. Like we have that the smashed—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. You just don’t want to give them any implements. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. So Ben and Helen run to barricade the windows. And instead of helping his wife Harry  grabs the gun and tries to force her into the cellar. Ben lunges for the gun and grabs them from Harry. They struggle, and Ben shoots Harry in the torso as the ghouls break through the door and try and start grabbing Helen. And we just see Barbra’s on the couch covering her face as Harry kind of falls into the cellar door into the basement. And he he lands a the bottom of the stairs, and he’s still alive, though, as he looks up. He sees Karen’s bed. Her cot is now empty. And Alison. Karen is now a tiny little ghoul. 


Alison Leiby: Oh a little ghoul. 


Halle Kiefer: Staggering towards her father. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Well. 


Halle Kiefer: And finally upstairs, Barbra leaps, it, comes out of her catatonic state, leaps up to barricade the front door and get Helen out of the ghoul’s grasp so she’s able to pull Helen away. Helen runs downstairs to help Karen and her husband to find Karen eating her dad. And when— 


Alison Leiby: You hate to see that. 


Halle Kiefer: You hate to see it. When Helen falls on the floor in horror, Karen grabs a huge spade off the wall, starts stabbing her mother over and over again. 


Alison Leiby: She seems like too good with tools.


Halle Kiefer: Yes, I agree. This was a little off game to me, but it’s still great. And Helen screams and screams as her blood spatters against the wall upstairs. Ben rushes back in and he and Barbra tried to hold the door, but it’s too late. So a ghoul reaches in and grabs Barbra. Alison, it’s her brother, Johnny. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, because he had recent—


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, and he drags her away into the mob, and we don’t see it. But we know that she is torn limb from limb. She is eaten up, and Ben then backs away towards the cellar and runs into little zombie Karen, who she picks up and just throws across the room. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. Correct. 


Halle Kiefer: So Ben runs into the basement. Finally, he is barricading himself in, the thing he did not want to do. He is now trapped in the cellar. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: And he boards up the door. And he’s finally ready to prove Harry, right or wrong, depending. And we see dozens of ghouls are just trying to, like, put their weight against the door. But the door holds. Of course, when he gets to the bottom of the stairs, we see Harry’s eyes open. So Ben has to shoot him in the head. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, well. 


Halle Kiefer: And he does the same when Helen’s eyes open. Finally we hear the throng sort of groaning and vocalizing and pounding on the door. So eventually, Alison, they lose interest and wander out of the house. And we see dawn break and in the morning the ghouls are gone and we see a police helicopter flying over a long line of white men with rifles who are sweeping a field and then just shooting ghouls as they come out of the tree line towards them. 


Alison Leiby: Woah.


Halle Kiefer: So this is the police battalion that was making its way towards Willard. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s the same police chief. And they also have police dogs and they’re looking for survivors. So they’re going house to house. And the police explains they’ll be in Willard about four more hours. It looks like authorities are finally getting things under control. Alison. Ben wakes up in the basement to the sounds of police dogs barking, and we see some ghouls are again wandering out in the grass. They’re immediately gunned down by the police. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Yes.


Halle Kiefer: The chief has found the burned out truck. They find Judy and Tom’s scant remains. And Ben starts slowly taking the boards off the cellar doors. He hears the dogs barking, and the chief instructs his men to build a bonfire for all the corpses. You know, with the government advised them to do. And we see Ben peering out the window and the cop just sees a figure standing behind the window. And the chief says to one of his officers, Shoot it between the eyes. And they shoot Ben dead without ever knowing he wasn’t a ghoul. And over the credits, we see sort of what looked like sort of police photos of Ben’s dead body being dragged to the bonfire and set on fire with all the other ghouls. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God, I hate this ending. 


Halle Kiefer: And that’s why I say like. Like whether or not, like, Romero will be like, oh, it is color blind casting, which I’m sure it was, but it’s like, this is also the comment he’s making where it’s like. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, correct. 


Halle Kiefer: The dehumanization by the authorities, especially during a crisis, you know, like and what makes this such an incredible piece of genre filmmaking is that it works whether or not the audience is consciously aware that that’s being said. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah for sure. 


Halle Kiefer: Or that connection’s being made. And also it works as a film regardless. Like it’s it’s an incredible movie. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And we end on the bonfire of all the bodies burning.


Alison Leiby: Oh my God. 


Halle Kiefer: As we fade to black. The Night of the Living Dead. 


Alison Leiby: Wow. I like I always thought I knew it was a popular movie, but I thought it was more kind of in the genre of the Evil Dead. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Or like a like more of not a B-movie, but like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, just sort of, like, thrilling in a campier way. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah, a little campier and like, this is chilling. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: And excellent. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. Alison, what are some fatal mistakes you think people may have made in the movie Night of Living Dead? 


[voice over]: Fatal mistakes. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, boy. I mean. Everything Ben did was right. Like, there’s nothing else that that he could have done. I think there were, like, the the insistence on being. Was it Harry who was insisting that they were in—


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Harry is the one who wanted them all to go in the cellar. 


Alison Leiby: All the. Yeah. It’s like being in the cellar. Terrible. Like, I think Barbra did the best she could while in total shock. So, you know, it’s like. I don’t know. Did she make any good moves? Not really. But once Ben was in charge, she kind of rolled with it. And, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know what you could do in this scenario. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. This is I mean, the fatal mistake is as law enforcement just gunning people down after this kind of crisis. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes, yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, rather than talking to them. 


Alison Leiby: Right. And like assessing a situation. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. I would say that was the main issue. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And then beyond that, yeah, everyone really did the best they could. Obviously, Harry had the fatal flaw. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But he wasn’t wrong in the end. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, and he was helping a ton—


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Sure, he did a few things, but he was also like, kind of going with the flow when. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: When Ben was like, we got to do this, like, boarding the door back up and, like, all those things. I don’t know.


Halle Kiefer: Which I think makes it more interesting. Yeah, like it’s a very human movie of like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: What people’s different reaction to this and like, turning on each other. I love that shit.


Alison Leiby: Oh, it’s so good. 


Halle Kiefer: And then finally, where would you put Night of the Living Dead on the spooky scale, Alison?


[voice over]: A spooky scale. 


Alison Leiby: I think I want to give it a six and a half. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay, great. I’m going to give it. 


Alison Leiby: How about you? 


Halle Kiefer: I’m gonna give it a seven. And I think it’s mostly. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: For that ending when Ben gets killed. I’m like, no, Ben. 


Alison Leiby: And the ending has such a like, there is no escape. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Even if you do everything right. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: This ends poorly and. And you are at the mercy of another entity. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. Forces us—


Alison Leiby: Which in this case it’s the police. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: And the country. But like, you know, earlier in the movie, it’s undead people who have radiation, like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: There’s really it’s it’s yeah. The the relentlessness of it is is very real from this. So I think yeah. Six and a half or you know what I’ll give it a seven too. Let’s give it a seven together. 


Halle Kiefer: And I think obviously we’re both white ladies. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: For the most part and I am reminds me of apparently in one of the versions and I think Jordan Peele wrote like a dozen versions of Get Out. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I’m sure. 


Halle Kiefer: Is that the police do kill Daniel Kaluuya’s character whose name is escaping me. But then, of course, in the actual version, Rel Howery shows up and it’s not the cops. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And there is watching this where it’s like, yeah, the legacy of like Black heroes in horror. This being the first one. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, I understand being like, you know what? I’d like to revisit this in a different way.


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And not have it be like the most bleak ending.


Alison Leiby: Yeah, absolutely. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, guys we hope you enjoyed that. I know I did. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And keep it. We’ll keep it coming as we try. Attempt to scare Alison to death. We haven’t succeeded yet, but I feel like it’s coming. I feel like we could do it. 


Alison Leiby: I feel like we’ve been kind of rolling into it. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Absolutely.


Alison Leiby: You know. There’s definitely. I know there’s stuff coming that I’m not excited about, so I feel like we’re we’re doing good. And it’s a very spooky month. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for listening, you guys. We love you very much. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And until then. From us gals in the void to you gals in the void and gal being of course gender neutral in our in this usage. Please, please do your best. 


Alison Leiby: To keep it spooky. 


Halle Kiefer: Don’t forget to follow us at Ruined podcasts and Crooked Media for show updates. And if you’re as opinionated as we are, consider dropping us a review. Ruined is a Radio Point and Crooked Media production, we’re your writers and hosts Halle Kiefer and Alison Leiby. The show is executive produced by Alex Bach, Sabrina Fonfeder and Houston Snyder, and recorded and edited by Kat Iossa. From Crooked Media our executive producer is Kendra James with production and promotional support from Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin, Julia Beach, Caroline Dunphy, and Ewa Okulate.