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George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead"

A horde of hungry zombies advance on an isolated farmhouse filled with fearful strangers in George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead," released 50 years ago this month. 

The living dead will stumble through the darkened corners of Parks Plaza Theatre in Buellton when the Central Coast Film Society screens “Night of the Living Dead” on Wednesday, Oct. 24, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the iconic film’s release.

The event is dubbed “Beers and Brains,” as the film will be partly sponsored by Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., and the price of a ticket will include a cup of Fig Mtn beer.

Attendees also will have a chance to hunt for zombies in virtual reality courtesy of Space VR, the Central Coast's only virtual reality arcade, or become zombies themselves.

“We wanted to make this event really fun and decided to do a costume contest,” said Daniel Lahr, executive director of the Central Coast Film Society. “We hope many zombies will participate, as we have gathered some fun prizes.

"This film spawned a whole movie genre, and we are celebrating its 50th birthday," he added.

The premise of the film, written, directed, photographed and edited by horror master George A. Romero and released in October 1968, is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life — with an insatiable hunger for brains, or any other edible body parts.

The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an ultimately hopeless attempt to remain safe from the bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters as well as roving bands of vigilantes.

Filmed on a $114,000 budget, the film grossed $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally and is considered a cult classic, despite being harshly criticized for excessive violence and gore when it was released.

But its impact on the horror genre is evident in the fact that the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry as a film deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

“Beers and Brains” will start at 9:45 p.m., with the zombie costume contest scheduled for 10 p.m. and the screening of “Night of the Living Dead” at 10:15 p.m. in the theater at 515 McMurray Road, about 300 yards north of Highway 246.

Concessions will be provided by Parks Plaza Theater.

Tickets are $25 per person, or $20 with a Central Coast Film Society membership, and admission is restricted to those age 21 and older.

To purchase tickets in advance, visit www.centralcoastfilmsociety.org.

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This report was compiled by Mike Hodgson, news editor for the Santa Ynez Valley News. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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