Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Tom Savini’s completely unnecessary but not-terrible remake tells the exact same story with a few twists. It’s best viewed as the culmination of the thirty-year friendship of Savini and George A. Romero; Savini was going to do the FX for the original, but he went to Vietnam instead. (Romero agreed to do the remake to make some money for the original film’s backers, who didn’t see a dime from the original’s profits; he also did it because someone else was planning a remake and he had to remake it first to lay claim to the rights to the film.)

This was Savini’s feature debut as a director (he’d helmed some Tales from the Darkside episodes for Romero), and he’s competent. An old-school horror director, Savini likes shots of the full moon behind gnarled tree branches. And he has cast, in place of the original’s recessive Judith O’Dea, the ravishing stuntwoman Patricia Tallman in the role of Barbara, who decimates zombies without revelling in it — a mournful Rambette, she is. (The other actors, like Tony Todd, Tom Towles, and Bill Moseley, were picked for their resemblance to the original cast.) But the film lacks the grubby, black-and-white fervor of Romero’s classic, and one may wish that the project, however well-intentioned, had never got off the ground. It is, however, much more respectful of the source material than John Russo’s idiotic 1998 remix. The original was remade again in 2006 (in 3D).

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