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Night Of The Living Dead (1990)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Movie Connections:
Night Of The Living Dead
> Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
> Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
> Day Of The Dead (1985)
> Night Of The Living Dead (1990)
> Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
> Land Of The Dead (2005)
> Day Of The Dead 2: Contagium (2005)
> Night Of The Living Dead 3D (2006)
> Diary Of The Dead (2007)
> Day Of The Dead (2008)
> Night Of The Living Dead: Reanimated (2009)
> Survival Of The Dead (2009)
> Day Of The Dead: Bloodline (2018)
Genres:
Horror, Zombie Film
Director:
Tom Savini Tom Savini
Starring:
Tony Todd Tony Todd
Patricia Tallman Patricia Tallman
Tom Towles Tom Towles
McKee Anderson McKee Anderson
William Butler William Butler

7.3 / 10 - 26 votes

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Review by Chad
Added: June 11, 2008
There are two camps of people who would try to remake the classic Night of the Living Dead: those with a set of balls so massive that they must be carted around in a wheelbarrow, and those untalented hacks who just want to make a quick buck with a mediocre film. Some would lead you to believe that this film falls into the latter category, but I'm going to have to disagree there as I thought that this remake was perfect in almost every way. In fact, and I'm probably going to raise the ire of more than one fanboy by saying this, I think that this remake was almost as good as the original. Will it ever be the iconic film that Romero's version is? Is it as important to the horror genre as the original film? Of course not... but that doesn't mean that the film isn't one hell of a good time regardless.

Featuring a script that never strays too far from the source material, the storyline begins with a brother and sister pair - Barbara (Patricia Tallman) and Johnnie (Bill Moseley) - heading out to a remote section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to visit their dead mother's grave. Upon entering the graveyard, it doesn't take long before they realize that something is horribly wrong: the dead are returning to life and attacking the living, with Johnnie being one of the first victims.

Barbara manages to escape and soon finds herself in a modest little farmhouse, and there, she eventually meets Ben (Tony Todd), a gruff fellow who wants nothing more than to simply survive the night. The two decide that the best course of action would be to barricade themselves inside the house and attempt to ride this thing out, but trouble arises when they discover that they're not alone in the house. Yes, there's an additional five survivors who have been hiding out down in the basement, and once these five people - Harry (Tom Towles), his wife Helen (McKee Anderson), and their daughter Sarah (Heather Mazur), as well as Tom (William Butler) and his girlfriend Judy Rose (Katie Finneran) - make their presence known, the situation quickly goes from bad to worse as tempers flare and arguments arise as to the best way to deal with the situation. As the night wears on and the number of zombies clawing at the doors and windows grows, our heroes realize that the real danger may very well be inside the house rather than outside it.

In Tom Savini's first (and to date, only) outing as the director of a feature-length film, he showed the world how a remake should be done. Granted, the things that he did here should be common sense to just about every filmmaker on the planet, but surprisingly enough, these set of rules are rarely followed. What Savini did right was simple: he stayed true to the source material, but at the same time, he tweaked the storyline here and there so that even fans of the original film would have a couple of shocks and scares throughout the running time. With the exception of a modified ending and one character's attitude adjustment, nothing major has changed in this remake - it's just the minor changes that I felt worked so well.

For example, there's that immortal opening scene in which Johnnie and Barbara are in the graveyard, the scene in which Johnnie delivers the infamous "They're coming to get you, Barbara" quote. We all know that the first zombie attack occurs at this point, but instead of coming at the exact moment that it did in the original, we're instead delivered a red herring which gets our guard down just long enough for the real attack to occur and completely take us by surprise. This is how a remake should be done: deliver the same storyline with the same plot twists, but change the details just enough so that it still feels fresh.

As an added bonus, the zombie makeup and special effects found in the film are some of the best from the genre, but with Tom Savini on board, this really should come as no surprise. The man may not have received any credit for the special effects and such for the film, but you just know that he lent a helping hand here and there as some of these gags and effects had his name written all over them. There's a particularly nice scene in which a shirtless zombie (who has some damned fine makeup effects going for him) takes a couple of shots to the chest from a rifle; the zombie would normally be wearing a shirt in this type of scene so doing this effect wouldn't be very challenging, but doing this scene with bare flesh while still making it look realistic was a feat to say the very least. This is but one example, and there are numerous others to be found as the minutes tick by.

Just to make the deal even sweeter, we're given a cast that is an absolute treat to watch. Tony Todd is excellent in the leading role, Patricia Tallman manages to keep up with him throughout most of the film, and Tom Towles plays the part of the asshole to perfection. Watching Todd and Towles go at it both verbally and physically is a sight to behold, and when Towles finally gets his comeuppance towards the end of the movie, well... I won't spoil it, but it's an extremely satisfying way to cap off the film.

As I mentioned at the start of this review, this film will never outrank Romero's original in the world of horror. It will never be remembered as fondly and it won't have even a percentage of the impact that the original did, but this does not make it a bad film. In fact, when you compare the two films based solely on the material presented on the screen, this one is almost as good as the original. Remakes have a tendency to suck, but this is one of the few films that did it right. 9/10, and I only knocked off a point for a couple of brief moments of sketchy acting from some of the minor characters.
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Siphon #1: Siphon - added 09/23/2004, 02:21 AM
The remake. Seen after watching the original Night of the Living Dead at age ten. The beginning scenes with the hideously deformed zombie trying to get to Barbara through the car window stuck with me for weeks on end and I would not go to bed unless the lights were on and I had a bat in my hand instead of my teddy bear. This was the best remake of the Romero series...the new Dawn of the Dead...well. Not much to say there. As I stated in my comment about the orignial, there really ought to have been more of a middle ground with Barbara--first she is shell-shocked into silence, next she is the only one killing zombies, it seems. The end was, indeed, all right...although the remake ought to have stuck with the original's. Of course, Romero's good friend Tom Savini (Romero's make-up artist in all of his movies) directed the remake...perhaps this is why it was so good? Check it out if you've never seen it. It'll scare you into sleeping with a bat instead of a teddy bear. =).
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 06/11/2008, 04:14 PM
As far as remakes go, this is probably the best one I've ever seen. Like Chad said, falls just a little short of the original. 9/10
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added 06/11/2008, 04:18 PM
I don't know that I would say this remake is close to on par with the original, but it certainly was enjoyable. There is just something about seeing "Night of the Living Dead" in color and modernized that causes it to lose some of its initial shock value. I think the remake is watchable, but nowhere near as powerful as the original film. I give the remake a 7/10.
Nirrad #4: Nirrad - added 06/11/2008, 05:48 PM
Meh, this one was ok. Couple of stupid and unrealistic parts. Mainly the one at the gas station near the end......give me a break. 6.5/10 for me.
Nirrad #5: Nirrad - added 06/11/2008, 05:49 PM
Oh, and I do agree that the end was satisfying. What a relief.
Edd #6: Edd - added 06/13/2008, 01:35 PM
Liked this one better than the original. 10/10
Shakes #7: Shakes - added 07/09/2008, 07:52 AM
Lol? It was ok... 7/10
Zombieboy #8: Zombieboy - added 12/30/2008, 10:25 AM
I agree! This film would have stood alone as a great zombie movie. Unlike some remakes, this one stays true and does very well. I remember seeing it in the theaters and just cheering throughout. Anyone catch the CANDYMAN gag? Anyone catch the cameo? HINT: look closely at the sheriff. Great great stuff. I want to see Tom do some more!!!
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