Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Still Coming For Barbara, or Thoughts on The Night of the Living Dead Remake

Zombie makeup genius and frequent George A. Romero collaborator Tom Savini made his big screen directorial debut with the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake.  With an updated script by the original authors George A. Romero and John Russo that hits the same notes, though Barbara is less hysterical and the power struggle no longer a racial issue because hey, it’s 1990, Night of the Living Dead featured Patricia Tallman, Lyta Alexander from Babylon 5 as Barbara and a very young Tony Todd taking over the role of Ben. 
You know what happens next, and Tom Savini directs this movie like a color version of the original but with updated, in-camera, analog special effects, which means that you get to see a lot of zombie heads beings squished in real time.  The ending is also similar to the original, but there’s a twist, and it’s a good one.
With Tom Towles, who would go on to portray George Rydell in House of a 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil’s Rejects (2005) as Harry Cooper, the guy in the basement (still wearing a tuxedo) and coincidentally, co-star Bill Moseley from both of those Rob Zombie movies as Johnny, Barbara’s brother (still rockin’ the leather driving gloves).
Absolutely savaged by the critics (you might even say the movie was torn apart and eaten alive), Roger Ebert famously gave it one star, though it now has a current Rotten Tomatoes rating of 68%.  It’s similar in theme and tone to Gus Van Sant’s shot for shot, color photocopy remake of Psycho (1990), and like that movie, fans of the original will appreciate the effort.  Plus, who doesn’t like Tony Todd?

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