Friday, April 05, 2013

This Movie Needs Extra Love.

I just read the announcement that George A. Romero is going to remake the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. This mystified me for mainly one reason:

The film was remade in 1990 with Romero producing and Tom Savini directing. Why would Romero want to remake it yet again? To cash in on the zombie craze that he created? Hard to say.

But the thing is, that remake is one of the single most effective horror films I've ever seen, and it gets only a fraction of the respect that it deserves. By now, everyone is familiar with the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD directed by George Romero with screenplay by John Russo and George Romero. That film is a classic of paranoid fantasy and one of the most psychologically effective horror movies ever made. That it was filmed on a shoestring budget in black and white actually enhances the effectiveness of the movie.

However, because Romero, Russo, and company were inexperienced in dealing with distributors, they were ripped off and saw almost none of the massive profits that the movie generated for its eventual distributor. Thus, they all felt the need to remake the movie with a bigger budget in 1990 so that they could all, at long last, actually see some profits from the sweat of their brows.

I very much admire the remake. It is similar enough to the original to make it a powerful social statement, just as the first one did. And it was different enough to make further social and political statements in ways that make it different enough from the original for each to remain unique. The movie has a number of exceptional performances and is absolutely brilliantly directed by Tom Savini. After I saw this movie on its initial run, I figured that the door would be opened for Savini to direct many movies and receive funding for any number of projects to which he would be attached as director. His vision for the movie was just about flawless.

However, while the movie apparently did moderately well, it did not break any records, did not end
up making the producers much wealthier; and, worst of all, it was not the beginning of a long line of Savini-directed features.

Well, shit. There ain't no justice.

If you've never seen the 1990 version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, give it a look. It's a truly creepy and effective horror movie. The film deserves a wider following, and Savini deserves a lot of respect and a lot of credit for the excellent work he turned in as director.

They're coming to get you, Barbara.


dogboy443 said...

I absolutely agree. Savini did a great job and he had a wonderful cast in Tony Todd, Pat Talm and a zombified Skipp & Spector and Gahan Wilson. Great pacing and it was well done. Why would George plagiarize his own material???

James Robert Smith said...

Yeah, excellent cast. Tom Towles, and Patricia Tallman were great, too.

I don't know why he would want to remake the original film one more time. It doesn't make a lot of sense, unless he feels that he'd like to get a handsome paycheck since so many have taken his creation (the modern zombie) and are making, quite literally, hundreds of millions of dollars from it.

Add to this that his most recent zombie efforts (LAND OF THE DEAD, DIARY OF THE DEAD, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD) all pretty much suck ass. If he hasn't lost his touch...he's wandering aimlessly.