Director – Tom Savini
Cast – Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles, McKee Anderson, William Butler, Katie Finneran, Bill Mosely, Heather Mazur, David W. Butler
Release Year – 1990
Reviewed by John of the Dead
In 1968 zombie maestro George A. Romero gave us Night of the Living Dead, a brash and powerful cult classic horror film that at the time was the greatest zombie film to date(although some feel it still is). After giving us some of the greatest gore scenes possible in George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead(my pick for best zombie film of all time) and Day of the Dead, special effects guru Tom Savini helmed the director’s chair and gave us his version of Night of the Living Dead. It is pretty much non-existent that a first-time feature film director scores a hit with a remake of an iconic horror film but Tom Savini makes it happen this film, and with George A. Romero’s blessing(read on).
This remake is a devout remake of the original film, and follows a women named Barbara(Patricia Tallman; Knightriders, Monkey Shines, Army of Darkness) who rides with her brother Johnny(Bill Mosely; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The Devil’s Rejects) to a cemetery to pay their respects to their late mother. Soon after arriving they are attacked by several apparently undead persons and Johnny suffers a life- ending injury. Barbara is forced to run for her life and makes her way to an abandoned farmhouse where she meets Ben(Tony Todd; Candyman, Hatchet). Her and Ben decide to hold up in the farmhouse for as long as they can until they come up with a better solution to their problems. As the oncoming zombie onslaught increases in power Barbara and Ben come across more survivors, and despite their differences in plans and personalities they must either band together to fight off the zombies or die and unsettling death in becoming zombies themselves.
I had not seen this film in about 8 years, and I still found this just as enjoyable as I did back then. It really is hard to believe that a remake can be this good, but the Savini-Romero duo make it happen. I mentioned earlier that this film came with George A. Romero’s blessing, and his blessing came in the form of him writing another Night of the Living Dead screenplay just for this remake. What a classy guy huh?
I also enjoyed that this is a very devout remake that basically follows the original scene for scene, but with its own execution. Meaning? This is not a lame scene-for-scene remake like the 1998 Psycho was, but a mostly scene-for-scene remake(some scenes were changed, and not for the negative) that comes with its own original elements added in here and there. Savini’s direction surprised me in that this film was good enough o stand on its own had it not been a remake. The musical score is chilling, the cinematography and scene selection is great, and the horror and conflict hit us full force. In a comparison of both films, I will say that Savini’s zombies looked much better than Romero’s(naturally, given Savini is an effects guru) but believe it or not we got more gore in the original Romero version of this film. Granted Tom Savini had to deal with a much more tight-assed MPAA than Romero did, so I think I can forgive Savini for that, heh.
Overall, this is an awesome remake given to us by one awesome effects guru and a very modest and classy director doing a favor for a friend. If you are a fan of the original film then you will definitely be pleased with this remake, although this film comes highly recommended to those who have seen neither film.