George A. Romero in Birth of the Living Dead.

Birth of the Living Dead isn’t a typical horror documentary: It has George A. Romero as its subject, with his enthusiastic participation, and it examines the significance of his landmark zombie film, Night of the Living Dead.

The movie focuses on the tumultuous period in which the film was made, its almost-accidental emergence as a civil rights film, the business people in Pittsburgh who put the movie together—and more. Romero offers so many new revelations about the movie that you’ll want to go back and watch Dead again for the hundredth time.

Many of the actors in the movie, including the doomed brother at the film’s beginning, were also major parts of the film crew. I never knew the bug-eating zombie at film’s end was played by the same actress who also played the mother killed by her zombie daughter.

After the credits, there’s a wonderful little 2007 interview with Bill Hinzman, who died in 2012. Hinzman played the legendary graveyard zombie at the beginning of the movie. He reveals that his zombie was initially just part of the ensemble, and that his appearance near the end of the film (that wonderful moment in which he walks around in a circle) was initially his only involvement. Romero liked Hinzman’s zombie act so much that he asked him to play the very first zombie in the film. That’s the sort of info that makes this doc so cool.

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