Friday, October 15, 2010

Night Of The Living Dead (1990) - 4/5

Before remakes became a money making gimmick for studios to use, there was one of the best ones made in the 1990 version of "Night Of The Living Dead". Ultimately true to the original, yet updating it properly for a whole new generation, this remake keeps the same heart and dread of the original. Perhaps not quite as good this time around, it still holds its own which says something for a remake anymore.

Barbara (Tallman) goes with her brother to visit her aunt's grave when they find themselves suddenly attacked by a mysterious undead man. Barbara runs for her life and finds an old house in the woods where she meets Ben (Todd). There they find a few other survivors and try to escape the growing onslaught of these zombies. Unfortunately, these ragged survivors might end up killing themselves in their panic before the zombies even get the chance.

This Tom Savini directed film, original director George A. Romero served as a producer of sorts on the film, does its best to recapture what made the original one such a groundbreaking film with its character chemistry and its atmosphere of dread and terror. The film does insanely well considering that it does little to change any of the actual plot and only updates some of the details. Tallman and Todd as our two main heroes do extremely well with the characters and their interactions with the other supporting cast (including a very nicely updated jackass Cooper played by Tom Towles) and its their screen presence that really makes this film work. The character Barbara was updated perfectly to be made a stronger female role (to move with the times) and her character arc adds a new level that the original one may have lacked a bit.

One of the big changes from original to this version is, most obviously, the color update. Although having it in color might lead to the most distinct change and modernization, but the original's black and white and very realistic look gave the film a lot more atmosphere. This one tries to recapture that which was lost from the original's lost footage look, but can't quite pull it off.

By all means, I still recommend watching the original first because it is better in the end, but this remake is a proper update true to its form and style. With a great cast, great updated special effects, and some nice new detail work "Night Of The Living Dead" comes off as a competent and well made remake. Not quite as atmospheric but it definitely works on its own too.

BONUS PRAISE: This film did fix the one issue that I had with the original and I have to say that it makes sense. I won't give it away as its a spoiler, but the mother/daughter basement moment now makes sense since they changed how it ends. Thanks guys! 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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