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Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead (1990)

What He said:

He

Johnnie (Bill Moseley) and Barbara (Patricia Tallman) are on their way to visit their mother's grave in a remote cemetery that is over two hours away from their home. I know this because Johnnie complains during the car ride...over-and-over again. He doesn't hide his disdain for his mother or the fact that she chose a cemetery so far from where she lived. He insists she did it on purpose to inconvenience her family and have something of the "last word". Barbara is offended by the very notion of this. I don't know if she actually liked her mother or was scared of her, but either way she is bothered by Johnnie's lack of respect for her.

Another point of contention between them is that Johnnie keeps teasing his sister about how "they're coming to get you Barbara". This movie doesn't flesh out who “they” are, but if I remember correctly from the original, she was always scared of the cemetery, and feared the dead would come after her.

Well it turns out Babara's fears were valid when some weirdo lunges at her. Before she knows it, there are a couple of them. They look off, are acting strangely, and appear to want to hurt her and her brother (we the audience know them as zombies). After a scuffle, she flees the cemetery. She gets away from the strange and dangerous people, but is on her own. She  has left her brother behind.

Night of the Living Dead

She finds shelter in a secluded home, but runs across more zombies and is overwhelmed.  She escapes the house and soon sees a man driving up to it in a pickup truck. He (played by Tony Todd) mows down one of the zombies down with the truck before getting out and asking her if it is her house. She’s still shaken up from the encounter with the zombies in the house, so he (Ben) enters and soon discovers she was not alone. The two of them managed to subdue the zombies and start to set up camp inside the house.

After a little while, some people emerge from the basement, which was locked. Hiding in the basement were Harry Cooper (Tom Towles) and his wife Helen (McKee Anderson), Tom (William Butler), and Judy Rose (Katie Finneran). Tom and Judy are a couple and the house belongs to Tom’s uncle; who was one of the zombies. Oh and Cooper and his wife have a daughter who is sick (uh-oh) and not much of a factor throughout the movie. In fact, I don’t think she says a word. The must not have had the budget to pay the actress.

Night of the Living Dead

Almost immediately after emerging from the basement, Ben lectures the men for not coming up to help. Cooper and Tom try to explain that they were not sure who was upstairs (it could have been more zombies for instance). It’s a point of contention between Ben and Cooper in particular. Cooper wants to grab some supplies and head back down to the basement. Ben wants to stay upstairs. He thinks locking themselves in the basement limits their options. This is another point of contention between Ben and Cooper. Are you seeing a pattern here?

As the night goes on, more-and-more zombies are attracted to the house. I’m guessing they are drawn to the noise, because between boarding up the windows and arguing, Ben, Barbra, and company aren’t exactly quiet. So, as time goes on, and more zombies show up at their doorstep, the group has to figure out what to do next. Stay and hide and hope for the best or make a break for it? Not everyone agrees and in addition to the zombies, they also have to deal with each other; which is a theme of zombie movies in general.

Night of the Living Dead

I’m pretty sure I saw this remake before I saw the original George Romero’s movie. I remember watching it late at night on one of the movie channels.  I never saw the original – not even sure if I had seen an entire zombie movie at that point in my life – and what else is kid that age going to do late at night? He’s going to watch scary movies.

I remember liking this movie when I saw it and when I finally did see the original, I thought this one was better. I haven’t seen the original in quite some time, so I can’t compare this one to it in terms of overall quality, but I can honestly say I’m not sure what I liked about this movie. I found its approach to be very amateur; the acting at least. I don’t know the right words for it, but there’s a style of acting that reminds me too much of something you’d see in the theater. It’s very loud, deliberate, and over-the-top (and not in the fun way).  There’s also something about that style of acting that makes events and relationships between characters feel very forced. Characters tend to make a bigger deal out of issues than need be with this style in my opinion.

Night of the Living Dead

Take the Ben character for example. When he first pops up, he’s already well aware of what’s going on. He finds Barbara all disheveled and when she is unable to answer his somewhat aggressive questions, he gets all “God damnit woman, answer me!’ far too quickly. Ben and Cooper seem to lose their patients with one another far too quickly for me to give the tension between them any credibility. Stuff like that takes me out of the viewing experience.

This movie does several things differently than the original and I respect that, but the acting was just so bad I found it to be distracting.

Not a lot actually happens in this movie either. Not that I need things blowing up in my face every 30 seconds, but there’s something about this movie that just struck me as boring.

Rating: Thumbs down.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on May 21, 2014.

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