Monday, April 06, 2009

Revisit: Night of the Living Dead

A Columbia Pictures release 1990

Directed by Tom Savini

Written by George A. Romero

One would assume that this 1990 remake of George Romero's zombie apocalypse classic Night of the Living Dead exists for the same reason as Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead - advanced film-making techniques "update" a horror classic for modern audiences. There are only two problems with this theory: Tom Savini's amateur direction, coupled with his DIY special-effects aesthetic, are rudimentary even for early 90's standards.

Alas, the remake does the original little justice, and brings little new to the table. Aside from being filmed in color, everything seems a lot more routine this go-round, particularly in the shadows of Day and Dawn of the Dead. A few alterations are made to the plot of Romero's classic horror tale, including the survival of our hero Barbara, who doesn't make it out alive in the first film. Romero has gone on to amend and augment much of his zombie apocalypse universe, with Land of the Dead and other recent forrays, so the chance to revisit his pioneering classic was, and still is, presumably very tempting.

I'll give Savini some credit -- Living Dead is his directorial debut, and hand-made effects are always a delight. But it doesn't negate the fact that the film is, quite frankly, a pointless excursion.

Ultimately you're better off watching the original or one of it's earlier sequels. But if you're a splatter fan or zombie freak, you could do worse. It's better than Return of the Living Dead by a long shot.

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