We all know our pal Ben here don’t we? Ben broke ground way back in 1968 in the original Night of the Living Dead. And while we all know and acknowledge Ben for being a leading man of color in a time when it wasn’t common, that’s not what we are hear to talk about today. See Ben had all the strong points of a leader and final man in a horror film, but he did seem to have too much pride. Pride that results in Ben being the next
victim hero to be blogged about in our “So Much For A Hero” series.
When we first run into Ben during the horrific events of Night of the Living Dead, it’s right after Barbra sees her brother killed (even if she’s in denial about it) and runs into a house for safety. Soon we are introduced to Ben who shows his leader skills by placing the passed out (and useless) Barbra on the couch and boarding up the house by himself (before we learn later that people have been in the cellar the whole time).
When all our cast of characters are introduced the most common danger in Romero’s movies are introduced as well, that being not so much the dead but the people themselves. Ben clashes from the start with Harry who to spite being such an ass doesn’t have that bad of an idea when he recommends they all just stay in the cellar until help arrives. Ben however has other plans…
Thus we see the first dent in our heroes armor as Ben devises a plan to escape using his truck involving all of the men in the house. The truck is in need of fuel, so Ben and Tom go to an outside gas pump, while Harry hurls Molotov cocktails from an upper window. On the way out the door, Judy fears for Tom’s safety and chases after him. Upon arriving at the pump, Ben places a torch on the ground next to the truck, and Tom carelessly splashes gasoline onto the torch, starting a fire that quickly engulfs the truck. Tom tries to drive the truck away from the gas pumps to avoid further damage, but when he goes to exit the truck, Judy gets stuck. Tom goes back into the truck to help her, but the truck explodes, killing them both. Ben runs back to the house to find that Harry has locked him out. He kicks the door open and, in a fury, gives Harry a fierce beating. Zombies invade, Barbra is killed, Ben manages to hold them back, but drops his rifle. Harry seizes the fallen rifle and turns it on Ben, who wrestles it away from Harry and shoots him (Maybe Ben lost his hero card there but Harry had it coming). Harry stumbles into the cellar and dies.Ben finally decides to go into the cellar where he has to dispose of Harry’s daughter who has turned from a bite and already killed Helen.
In the morning, a posse (mostly of rednecks and hicks) approaches the house, hunting the remaining zombies. Hearing the commotion, Ben ambles up the cellar stairs into the living room, and peeks out the window, trying to decide if the coast is clear (he probably shouldn’t have did that). One of the posse members, mistaking him for a zombie, shoots and kills him. His body is carried from the house and burned with the other corpses
Perhaps had they all just stayed in the cellar and waited for help things would have turned out better for our dear friend Ben?