What's the best thing to do in a zombie apocalypse? The characters of Night of the Living Dead were some of the first to go through it, and they didn't have a clue. The best option would probably be to run, especially as this is only a localised zombie apocalypse. Run and keep running until there aren't any zombies. Barbra appears to get the idea. She does fall over quite a lot but she understands what to do. But then she decides to hide in a house, which is where it all goes wrong. It's like the rules of zombies are being explained. They're slow. They don't like fire. They'll go down if they're shot in the head. In recent outbreaks of the living dead everyone understands the situation pretty quickly. Here it's all fresh. A bit too fresh for Barbra, whose mind seems to break. The other survivors argue over the best strategy. Is it best to stay in the house or the cellar? Is it best to be boxed in or to keep escape routes? They foolishly decide against just running away. Leave the child in the basement, she'll be alright. Just run away from the slow, ambling zombies. Some of them are a bit more spritely and know how to use weapons, but don't wait for them to gather outside. Although maybe I shouldn't be patronising. It's not easy being the first. These people provide a service. They prepare us for our fight against the flesh-eating hordes (not horses, as I just typed by mistake - that's a different film entirely). You wonder whether the characters of recent zombie dramas have seen all these films, because they never seem to mention them. Maybe they just weren't taking notes.
For me, the most effective part of Night of the Living Dead is the threat of the very first zombie. If you didn't know the title of the film you might just assume he was a drunk gravedigger, but he's more energetic than the others. He almost starts running through the cemetery, something that zombies definitely aren't supposed to do. He's a menace. If only he'd stayed in the background and wandered past. Poor Barbra.