Friday, October 28, 2016

Halloween Reboot #4 Night of the Living Dead

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Ok the final film review is another of the all-time classics the 1968 George Romero film that created a special love for human flesh craving leg draggers, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

I had forgotten that this movie got a reboot back in 1990 for some unknown reason.

This was another hard to watch movie due to the fact that I am a big fan of the original as everyone should be!

Ok. Another deep breath…….

The general premise is that the deceased are rising from the grave and a stumbling around. Their only desire is that they crave human flesh. Why? Well I guess people are really tasty. A group of strangers end up together inside a farmhouse and try to survive the night. A night full of a continuous onslaught of reanimated and ever hungry corpses.

The plot is basically identical to the original.

The cast of characters is similar to the original: Barbara, Ben, Tom, Judy Rose, Harry, Helen and Sarah (the Cooper family), Johnnie and a lot of zombies. Their roles are basically the same as well, with a minor tweak to one of them. Ben is the leader guy. Tom and Judy are the hicks. Harry is the loudmouth. Helen…is pretty nonexistent. Johnnie lasts as longs as he did in the original and was the annoyance. Then there is Barbara. This version she starts off as a bit  mousy and doe-eyed. Then she quickly turns into an unlikely heroine. Yeah, this Barbara becomes a no-nonsense bad ass with a mouth and a rifle. How? Who knows. Why the change? Well I guess to make it not a complete shot for shot remake.

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From the start it looks like this will be just a very similar reboot of the original.

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This. There was way too much of these too and a pointless argument.

However as the film progresses it turns into a shouting match between Ben and Harry about where they should hide from the zombies; in the basement or upstairs behind boarded windows. This argument occurs so many times and only gets sillier each time. I think a 1/5 of the film is this argument. The rest is zombie stuff, boarding of windows, searching the house for stuff and some tiny character exposition. Even better is when there is the discovery of the retractable ladder leading to the attic. You know a place no zombie could get to since they aren’t known for their climbing abilities. Just a lot of yelling that is beyond ridiculous.

This is not the only bad in the film, but it is the biggest stand out for me.

The zombies take forever to reach the house. They are seen approaching before the boarding of the windows occurs and it is still daylight. Eventually, it is night and the house boarding is done, and then the zombies finally arrive. What is that about? They are no more than a couple 100 yards away when the house work is starting. Then it takes them a few hours to get to the house?

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There is no an overwhelming lack of common sense. I know it is a movie, but come on! Barbara runs into the house to avoid the zombies after her and leaves the door wide open for them. There is a phone nobody tries to use (yes we all know it wouldn’t work, but one would think someone would try). The shooting of the gas pump with a shotgun. Still beyond stupid! The fact people stop to have pointless arguments right in the middle of a zombies breaking through the barricaded windows. An attic? These people searched the entire house and argued about a basement when there was an attic they could hide? Seriously? Barbara making the simple discovery that the dead are slow and stupid. One could walk right past them without issue and escape. That plan is squashed, until the end when that is exactly what she does. You know in the midst of the giant zombie horde breaking into the house. That is when she decides to just safely walk away? What? Why not do that hours sooner? Before the horde of zombies traps everyone. When it was also still daylight? UGH!

Speaking of Barbara she goes from mousy female to near action heroine in a matter of movie minutes. Seriously? How does she become an expert marksmen able to pull off headshots with a rifle? Did this Barbara have some training we never knew about? I understand wanting to make her a stronger character, I was fine with that. It was badly and unbelievable in the way it was handled.

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The music is bad as is the pacing.

Then there is the ending. When it looked like it couldn’t get any worse, it does. The zombie hunting posse returns to the house. Ben has become a zombie, thanks to an wound suffered during an altercation with Harry. Instead of attacking anyone, like every zombie has done up until this point, he slowly walks out of the basement and looks at Barbara. She has that torn moment from every zombie sow where she has to put down someone she knows. Then it gets better as Harry has survived and is elated to see that Barbara has returned and with help. Well of course the right reaction is to promptly turn and shoot Harry in the face without hesitation. What the shit is that about? Harry was an a-hole and deserved some comeuppance, but having Barbara execute him? She went from weak, to strong and then to cold blooded killer? What was that about?

It was just so stupid!


Was there any bit of redeemable good in this movie?

Well it did have simple and good zombie make-up. There wasn’t an effort to make them all super gooey, torn up or crazy bloody gross. Simple worked really well here.

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The little girl ,Sarah, was creepy looking, much like the original. The zombie kid was the creepiest part in both films. Good job there.

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Tony Todd was perfect for the role of Ben. He was the best part, until they just had him yelling “COOPER!” every three minutes. Sadly, he was saddled with this turd of a reboot.

1968 Night of the Living Dead was a damn good movie. It worked because it was tense. It was creepy. The ending was tragic and pretty damn realistic. You could relate or agree with one of the characters. It was way ahead of its time because it had an African American as the, albeit anti-, hero. The social commentary about leadership roles, race, family disruption, violence against women (yeah don’t forget Ben coldcocks Barbara while she is hysterical), the working together for a common goal bit, and societal expectations are all gone in the reboot. It is replaced with a stupid running argument about upstairs or downstairs instead.

Was this reboot necessary? Like every other remake the answer is no. Was it terrible? Well in comparison to all the horrible zombie movies out there...well no. When compared to the original, oh Hells yes it is bad! If they wanted a zombie attack movie where a girl becomes the hero then that is what they should have done. Remaking a classic horror movie with that spin was just a bad idea and an even worse application.

That does it for another year of Halloween horror remakes for me. I only managed to push through half the movies I did last year but time was an issue as well as want once I started doing this again. However, I did find a couple that were not terrible, not great either, but a bit better than the original and that is what one would hope for with remake. Hopefully one day the Hollywood machine will stop this, but it doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. 

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