I recently re-watched the 1990 remake of George A. Romero’s horror classic Night Of The Living Dead. It’s not one of the best horror remakes out there and I can understand people’s criticisms of it. However, I think the film has certain elements that make it better than most horror remakes from the last decade or so. In this article I’m going to look at those elements and show why they make Tom Savini’s Night Of The Living Dead worth a watch.
The Cast: Todd And Tallman's Stand-Out Performances
Horror fans will recognize genre regular Tony Todd as Ben. His performance is more intense than Duane Jones's in the 1968 original. He’s still strong and commanding like Jones, but occasionally displays panic and anxiety. He’s the best actor in the film, making it very watchable (unlike most recent horror remakes).
Similarly, sci-fi fans will recognize Babylon 5’s Patricia Tallman as Barbara. Even though she starts out as weak and panicky like in the original, Tallman manages to add grit to the performance. She doesn’t come across as a '60s scream queen, but rather a person who cannot believe what she is seeing. When she cries you can tell that she’s been mentally scarred. Thanks to Tallman, her character is one of the only elements the remake actually improves on.
The Zombies: Personality And Visual Identity
Even though Tom Savini didn’t do the makeup for the film, the effects are just as gorgeous as his previous zombie efforts. Anyone who loved the zombies in Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead will adore these too.
The 1990 remake is full of unique zombies, as every zombie has its own personality and visual identity. In the opening scene we see two zombies: one of them is pale with a bleeding eye and the other has visible stitches on his torso. The zombie designs are one of the best elements of the remake and I think any zombie film that perfects its zombies deserves some praise.
The Scale: Witnessing A Widespread Apocalypse
As groundbreaking as the original was, it had a small budget and could only suggest a worldwide zombie apocalypse. Only a dozen or so zombies appear on screen. However, the remake boasts a larger budget and showcases an army of zombies. This gives the story a sense of scale and intensity that the original couldn’t produce. There are many shots showing hundreds of zombies lumbering towards us in the distance. This creates an incredibly tense atmosphere as the visuals explicitly informs us that a zombie apocalypse is taking place.
Those are the best things about the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead. It’s not perfect but it’s certainly worth a re-visit this Halloween.
What do you think of the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake?