Night of the Living Dead (1990)

6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 8/10

Some changes make sense

Some change make sense but lose their irony and are less compelling

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Night of the Living Dead

Studio:  21st Century Film Corporation

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  October 19, 1990

MPAA Rating:  R

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They’re coming to get you Barbara…again…

Barbara (Patricia Tallman) and her brother Johnnie (Bill Moseley) are on a trip into the countryside to visit their mother’s grave.  When Barbara is attacked by a walking dead man, Johnny is killed.  Barbara finds herself trapped in a house and joined by a man named Ben (Tony Todd) as the house slowly is surrounded and the night lags on.  When a young couple Tom and Judy Rose (William Butler and Katie Finneran), an angry husband Harry (Tom Towles), his wife Helen (McKee Anderson), and their sick daughter Sarah (Heather Mazur) are discovered hiding in the basement, the danger might not be outside the house but within.

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Can’t someone say “Candyman” a few times and get me out of here?

Directed by Tom Savini, Night of the Living Dead is a remake of the famous George A. Romero 1968 film.  The movie was originally tagged with an X-Rating and had to be reworked to get the R-Rated version (cuts scenes are often included on DVDs of the film).  The movie initially was grilled by the critics in comparison to the original film, but has garnered a following and better reviews since its initial release.

I can remember hearing about Night of the Living Dead being remade.  It was a period of time when remakes really weren’t the norm (as opposed to now) and even then I kind of wondered why.  The original Night of the Living Dead held a special place for me due to it being one of my earlier horror films, and I didn’t really want to see it tainted.  I saw the remake on TV not long after it was released and didn’t enjoy it much.

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Mom…You taste yummy…

Going back and watching the movie has changed my opinion of the film a bit.  I do feel it has some redeeming qualities, but I also feel it is still probably unnecessary.  It isn’t a bad or awful film as it was initially labeled, but it also isn’t Night of the Living Dead.  It does however reveal changes in horror films since 1968.

*****Spoiler Alert***** The movie tinkered with so much of what made the original film a stand out.  In the original film, Barbara was essentially driven crazy…here, like Ripley in Alien, Barbara takes control…and survives.  The original film’s shocking ending with her death…while the African-American lead (another big event for 1968) survived…sort of.  The next big change of course ties into this and is the ending.  Here, Ben and Harry end up in a shootout.  Barbara escapes, and returns back to find Harry (the coward) has survived…then shoots him.  It is more poetic that he gets what is coming to him, but the irony of the original ending was also lost.

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Shot in the head…and you’re to blame…you give zombies a bad name…

Some changes technically make more sense, but also aren’t as good.  Yes, in the original film, it doesn’t make sense that the daughter uses a weapon to kill her mother (alluded to in this film with a splash of blood on the spade).  None of the zombies really use weapons so for Sarah to kill her mother with one didn’t really work, but it also was one of the most chilling scenes of the film.  I also always found it amusing that Harry was right in the original film.  The basement was the key to survival and if they had all hidden down there, they would have lived.  It also didn’t make much sense that they didn’t go upstairs in the house because the zombies don’t seem that good with stairs…The changes make sense, but aren’t as compelling.

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Hey guys…this isn’t working…

Night of the Living Dead is worth checking out to see what you feel about a remake of a classic that changed some things…sometimes for good.  Sometimes however, the logical choice isn’t the right choice.  Give Night of the Living Dead’s remake a second chance…it shows how films can evolve over time.  The movie was remade again in 2006 as Night of the Living Dead 3D.

Related Links:

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Day of the Dead (1985)

Land of the Dead (2005)

Diary of the Dead (2007)

Survival of the Dead (2009)

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Night of the Living Dead Reanimated (2009)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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