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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 10/31/00



Night of the Living Dead
1990 (1999) - Columbia TriStar

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Night of the Living Dead 1990 Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/B+

Specs and Features

88 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary with director Tom Savini, "making of" featurette The Dead Walk: Remaking a Classic, theatrical trailers (for Night of the Living Dead (1990) and The Tingler, production notes insert, cast and crew bios, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), language: English (DD 2.0) and Portuguese (DD mono), subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai, Closed Captioned

"It doesn't take long for the world to fall apart, does it?"

To be fair to the folks behind the Anchor Bay "30th Anniversary" version of Night of the Living Dead (see our review), there's a reason why they did the re-versioning. The makers of the film got the ultimate independent film treatment by getting ripped off by the original distributor. They also suffered because the copyright mark was accidentally left off when the new title optical was created for the film after it was renamed (it was originally called Night of the Flesh Eaters). Because of these issues, the filmmakers have been trying to find a way to make money off of their creation for years. Before the 30th anniversary, Romero, Russo and producer Russ Streiner decided that a total remake might be the ticket to getting some bucks back, and so Romero went about writing the script. Romero felt that make-up-man-extraordinaire-turned-director Tom Savini (who helmed a few impressive bits of Romero's Tales from the Darkside) would be the perfect director. And Savini, although a little wary at first, finally agreed. Thus the 1990 remake was born.

Basically, this is the same story as the original with a bit of an updated ending (updated in the post Halloween and Aliens cinema culture - hint, hint) and with much cooler special effects. The zombies are made to be more realistic than they were in the original or even in the Tom Savini make-up supervised Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. These zombies are gross - you can almost smell 'em. Ick. Mr. Savini does a good job directing this (with Romero doing some uncredited work when Savini's divorce got messy), giving us more development of the classic characters. The characters are generally the same, as are their motivations. Except this time, Barbara is played by Romero stock player, Babylon 5 babe and famed stuntwoman Patricia Tallman, who gives the character a quiet strength that comes out full force in the end. Candyman himself, Tony Todd, is Ben (and although no one can replace Duane Jones, Todd does a good job). We also have Tom Towles (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) as Harry and Bill Moseley (Chop Top from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) as Barbara's brother Johnnie. Sure, the film is not as good as the original and suffers for all the same reasons we love the original - it's not documentarian, it's not claustrophobic and it's a little more over the top. But, for the most part, this new version succeeds in scaring us and giving as some gooey zombies.

On DVD, Night of the Living Dead is pretty sweet. The anamorphic transfer is clean, with nice color and hard blacks. The print is a bit dirty but, for the most part, it's a nice solid video presentation. The sound is a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track that's strong and gives all the right vibes at all the right times. We also get a nice assortment of extras. First, there's an informative commentary track with Tom Savini, who gives us lots of info while also shedding light on the meaning of a few scattered scenes. Better still is the documentary. It's a half hour full of interviews, insight and some deleted shots of gore that didn't make it to the film due to MPAA tinkering. It makes for a fun look behind the scenes. We also get a trailer for this film and The Tingler with Vincent Price.

As we've seen, there's a bunch of zombies floating around on DVD these days. But how do you like this? A stack of DVDs, all focusing on Night of the Living Dead... and not one of them a sequel! But if you're interestd in the sequels, there are several DVD versions of those as well. I don't think there's a better way to spend a dark evening at home than with zombies. And these assorted DVDs prove one thing: piracy is the sincerest form of flattery. Long live zombies.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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