Monsters-HD: Night of the Living Dead ***+ (1968, Horror) at 8pm
Monsters-HD: Night of the Living Dead *+ (1990, Horror)
Here's a review by someone at amazon of the DVD's:
So you're George Romero, writer and director of one of the most influential horror movies ever, Night of the Living Dead (1968), and it's some twenty odd years later and you're executive producing a remake of said movie. Who do you get to direct? How about special effects master Tom Savini, the man responsible for the horrifying effects in Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985)? Seems a pretty good choice to me...
Night of the Living Dead (1990) stars Tony Todd and Patricia Tallman as Ben and Barbara, respectively, two individuals who seek refuge in a farmhouse as a legion of hungry corpses descend upon them and soon find the house not so much a haven as a claustrophobic nightmare. They also discover they aren't the only ones in the house, as there are five people locked in the basement. Emerging from their hidey-hole are Harry and Helen Cooper, a married couple, and Tom and Judy Rose, a younger couple, Tom's uncle being the owner of the house. Also in the basement is the Cooper's daughter, Sarah, who has become ill after being bitten by one of the undead (guess where that's going). A diverse group, for sure, and one that finds itself at odds in if it's better to fortify the house or retreat to the fairly secure basement. Harry thinks it's best to go into the basement and bar the door, but Ben would rather board up all the doors and windows, using the basement as a last option, as there is only one way in and out and he doesn't want to trap himself down there unless he absolutely has to...Harry, who is quite vocal throughout, thinks this plan foolish and says once he goes into the basement and bars the door, he won't open it for anything, regardless. As tensions flare, night falls, and the dead begin arriving in greater numbers, I guess sensing the warm, living flesh they so crave to be inside the house. As the situation grows worse, an escape plan is formulated, but the plan soon falls apart, and it's back to the house. Who lives? Who dies? Is rescue in the wings, or should they just put their heads between their legs and kiss their hinders good-bye?
It's always a sketchy affair remaking a film, especially one that's deemed a classic and definitive representation of its' genre. Look what happened in 1998 when director Gus Van Sant released a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. A total and tremendous flop...Yes, I am sure there was a awful lot of apprehension to redoing a movie that really didn't need to be redone, but the end result turned out an interesting update, remaining true to the original while adding a few surprises along the way. Tony Todd is excellent as Ben, and is definitely the strongest characterization in the film, bringing a lot of what Duane Jones did in the original, while adding personal nuances to make the character his own. Patricia Tallman's character of Barbara starts out the same as the original played by Judith O'Dea, but goes through some serious changes by the end, allowing for the a modernization of the character to fit more along the lines of the strong female lead, as seen in the Alien films with Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver. Was this for the better? I am still undecided, but it certainly made interesting viewing. The character I found most annoying was that of Harry Cooper, played by Tom Towles. His portrayal was overblown to the point of being silly, with his constant yelling, screaming, and berating of other characters. The Harry Cooper in the original was a jerk, for sure, but at least you got the feeling it was a jerkiness borne of overriding desire to protect his family, even if his plans were at odds with the rest of the group, allowing for viewers to develop some empathy for the character. Here, the character is played as a bonehead to the nth degree, and it only served to, in my opinion, disrupt the flow of the film. The biggest difference between the original an the remake is obviously the color factor, but one will also notice that the undead are much more detailed than in the original, due to a much larger production budget. You can tell a great amount of effort was taken in this area, enhancing on the original film. The film wasn't quite as gory as I thought it was going to be, but that's pretty well explained in a making of featurette. Seems in order to avoid an X rating, these scenes were either removed or toned down. Savini didn't seem too upset about it, as he felt, and I agree, that sometimes what you don't see is just as effective as what you do see.
The disc has the wide screen presentation on one side and the full screen on the other, and includes some good special features like trailers, production notes, commentary by Savini, and a 25 minute making of featurette called 'The Dead Walk' that highlights a lot of interesting facts about the movie, along with comparisons to the original. Also in this featurette are some of the scenes that were deleted to get an R rating, along with alternate, more visceral scenes that were toned down in the release. If you liked the original, chances are you'll get a kick out of this film, as I wasn't disappointed, and I usually despise remakes.