TOM SAVINIâ€™s 1990 refurbishing of his buddy GEORGE ROMEROâ€™s immortal NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD has got to be one of the most underrated remakes of all time. Iâ€™m not surprised folks were skeptical before it hit the big screen but Iâ€™m more than a little shocked anyone was able to cling to their cynicism by the time the end credits rolled. Itâ€™s so darn good! Personally, I thought I had witnessed the vital birth of a Ripley-esque heroine in the revamped Barbara (PATRICIA TALLMAN) and I was stunned to later find critics giving the whole rip-roaring anti-adventure a cold dismissal (How could you, EBERT?). Whatâ€™s worse, even horror fans shrugged it off and snidely shunned it. I have faith that most of those naysayers have changed their tune by now but how could they be so blind in the first place? Ugh, I guess some people really need to trash some things in order to prove their love for other things, which is pretty stupid because you can easily love both!
Every remake has its work cut out for it and this particular one had some extra big shoes (or coffins) to fill. Is it possible people were extra biased because they figured special effects guru SAVANI would deliver the ultimate gorefest? Well it just so happens, I like my undead like I like my everything- and thatâ€™s on a small scale and in a very limited space. SAVINI cut his directorial teeth directing TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE episodes and that could explain part of my mad devotion; something about that series singularly scratches a psychological itch for me. SAVINIâ€™s take almost feels like an extended DARKSIDE episode and thatâ€™s so up my nightmare alley. Iâ€™m not the type who thinks SAVINI walks on water but I have to say whoever is responsible for this particular end product has got some serious chops. The score even has that strange minimalist keyboard routine going on and the meager budget insures everything remains looking backyard regional and lived in. The atmosphere is so convincingly nihilistic and morbidly depressing that the entire excursion acts as a cathartic purging of negative vibes. And how can anyone look a gift horse in the mouth when its front teeth are genre legends TONY TODD and BILL MOSLEY? Meanwhile, a motion picture is worth more than a zillion words and you can check this fine flick out for FREE thanks to super cuddly CRACKLE right abouts HERE!
One of my college professors was lucky enough to be a zombie in this, so it will always have a place in my heart.
I do, however, have a slight problem with the ending. Without spoiling anything(can you spoil an almost 20 year old movie?) I feel a small change in Ben’s fate really hurts the scene’s impact.
Even so, a much tougher Barbara is VERY appreciated.
I’ve always tried to convince people that THIS is how you do a remake. What I love about it is it assumes you’ve already seen the original many times and it plays off that with some suprises. No apologies and it doesn’t feel dumbed down. Plus Greg Nicotero’s first big zombie gig I believe.