Sunday, August 24, 2008

Night of the Living Dead 1990

In the weeks leading up to All Day of the Dead, I thought I'd take some time to share my thoughts on each of the films we'll be watching.

I know several people are wondering why we're kicking off the 40th anniversary celebration with the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead. Unlike the entertaining if hollow Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake, and the reprehensible Day of the Dead (2008) remake, the 1990 version was written by George A. Romero himself, produced by the original Image Ten partners, and directed by special effects maestro Tom Savini, whose contributions to the original sequels is immeasurable.

While Savini has often expressed his disappointment with the film, as it didn't live up to his grandiose vision, and he was somewhat hampered by the then still oppressive MPAA (who have softened on horror significantly in recent years - just review the R-rated Dawn remake for numerous examples of things Savini could not get away with in his film.

That said, I would go so far as to say it's one of the best zombie films not directed by George Romero in the wake of the original Night of the Living Dead.

Romero and Savini did a brilliant job with the remake - making the appropriate nods to the original throughout, and using the viewers familiarity with the original against them. With the exception of Barbara, the cast was filled with actors who were reminiscent of the original films cast. Patty Tallman, an accomplished Hollywood stuntwoman who also acted in the television show Babylon 5 and Romero's under-rated Knightriders does a fantastic job doing what Judy O'Dea was never allowed to in the original. She changed. She doesn't spend much of the film in a catatonic state - she takes action, and ultimately sets off on her own journey.

The special effects by Optic Nerve are top notch, and another Romero collaborator, Paul McCullough, does an admirable job with the score.

By starting off the marathon with the remake of Night of the Living Dead, it also allows us the opportunity to save the annniversary screening of the original for a 'prime-time' slot, for those interested in attending, but somewhat squeamish about spending an entire day with the undead.

Hope to see you all there.

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