efore seeing the remake of George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead," I watched the original. Consequently, I was extremely skeptical that the new film could measure up. I was pleasantly surprised. "Night of the Living Dead" is a fantastic remake that matches the first film in its horror and intensity.
The film tells the tale of eight people who have barricaded themselves in a farm house to protect themselves from an onslaught of the living dead. Their struggles against these ghouls and against one another create a disturbingly chilling atmosphere. The plot of the remake remained almost totally faithful to the original. Although Romero has updated the story, changing the ending radically. Also, the character of Barbara who slips into catatonia within the first 30 minutes of the first film (presumably to characterize the 1960s' society view of women).Now, however, Barbara takes charge and fights off the zombies with the others.
First-time feature director Tom Savini, who worked as make-up artist on several of George A. Romero's films (Romero was the co-writer/director of the first film and writer/executive-producer of this one), handles this project masterfully. He exhibits a definite visual flair and a strong command of tension.
Savini, while at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors convention, stated that he tried to cast actors that resembled the first film's cast as closely as possible. He succeeded wonderfully, which is not to say that the actors cannot act, quite the contrary. They are as good, if not better, than the first film's. In particular, Tony Todd (who has had small roles in "Lean on Me" and "21 Jumpstreet") puts in an anguished performance as Ben, the film's hero. Patricia McTallman, too, puts in a strong performance as Barbara.
The make-up and effects, here, are leaps and bounds above the original's and give the film an eerie type of realism.
The first film's stark, black and white photography helped to create a documentary feel. It also helped to promote uneasiness and add to the horror. This element is lost to the technology of the remake.
But, for what the remake lacks, it makes up for in scares (and there are a lot of them) and overall creepiness.
"Night of the Living Dead" is a wonderful update of the original and one of the best horror films this year.
Although I still recommend the first film more, I highly recommend that you see this film immediately. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.