Written by: John Edward Betancourt
For the most part, we have stayed away from spotlighting remakes here at Girls of Geek, and with good reason. Simply because it is so difficult to find something in the second go round that stands out from the original. We often know the plot, we're just getting a shiny new version of one of our favorite films.
But a few remakes have managed to stand out, reinventing the wheel so to speak as they bring something new and exciting to the table. We took a look at the remake of Dawn of the Dead for that exact reason, since it helped bring the living dead back to the forefront of horror and now pop culture. But there is another Romero remake that deserves its day in the sun as well, the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead.
As expected, the storyline is close to the original. The dead have returned to life and are attacking the living and seven strangers are surrounded in a farmhouse, desperate for survival. But while the plot remains the same, there are many differences from the original Night in this underrated film.
The usual names associated with Romero's vision of the zombiepocalpyse can be found here as well, but without their usual titles. George Romero only wrote the screenplay this time around, making the wise decision to hand the title of director to horror effects legend Tom Savini, and what an incredible job Mister Savini did, bringing forth a fast paced remake, that manages to bring new scares to life on screen all while staying true to the core components of the original.
Horror veteran Tony Todd does an outstanding job taking over the iconic role of Ben, but the show is stolen by Patricia Tallman as Barbara with her unique portrayal of the character. In fact, that is what makes this remake so fascinating. There was the easy way out in making this motion picture by simply retelling the tale shot for shot in beautiful technicolor. But Romero's script updates Night to reflect the times. Gone is catatonic Barbara, waiting for a man in shining armor to save her and make all the decisions, she is now an independent woman who is suffering from the loss of her brother but willing to do what is necessary to survive. Also removed are the explosive overtones of the 1960's that we found in the first one, which changes the film drastically, bringing about a raw element of fear and confusion that gives the picture its own unique feel.
Does this film surpass the original? Absolutely not. It works as a companion piece to the 1968 version, but adds its own credence to the series with its slick special effects, beautiful visuals and oddly enough, bleaker feel. It is almost as if Romero and Savini understood where horror films were headed. There would no longer be a sense of hope at the end of these types of movies, that optimistic notion would be replaced by the sense of terror that something awful had come at last, and it was here to stay.