Night of the Living Dead

1990

Night of the Living Dead

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

68%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 31

68%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 64,142
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Movie Info

Makeup wizard Tom Savini's color remake of George A. Romero's 1968 classic follows the original almost shot-for-shot, so quality comparisons are somewhat pointless. The film was clearly made for younger viewers who refuse to watch black-and-white films, no matter how good they may be. The result is passable, but the very fact that the original was made 22 years before makes this version seem almost dated in its restraint. By the time of its release, Romero had already geometrically raised the gore quotient with Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), so Savini's starting back at square one further lessened the impact of this pointless retread. If this version has anything to offer, it is Patricia Tallman's engaging lead performance as a gun-toting independent woman, one of this film's few elements not lifted wholesale from Romero.

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Cast

Katie Finneran
as Judy Rose
Katie Finnerman
as Judy Rose
Bill Moseley
as Johnnie
Bill Cardille
as TV Interviewer
Zachary Mott
as Bulldog
Pat Reese
as The Mourner
William Cameron
as The Newsman
Pat Logan
as Uncle Rege
Berle Ellis
as The Flaming Zombie
Greg Funk
as Cemetary Zombie
Tim Carrier
as Autopsy Zombie
John Hamilton
as Crowbar Zombie
Dyrk Ashton
as Truck Zombie
Jordan Berlant
as Porch Zombie
Albert Shellhammer
as Cousin Satchel
Jay McDowell
as Front Door Zombie
Walter Berry
as McGruder
Kendal Kraft
as Bob Evans Zombie
David Grace
as Policeman Zombie
Stacie Foster
as Doll's Mom Zombie
Charles Crawley
as Window Zombie
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Critic Reviews for Night of the Living Dead

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (4)

Audience Reviews for Night of the Living Dead

  • Feb 11, 2015
    Two big fat gold stars for Tom Savini's peerless practical effects work. A big fat zero for literally everything else in this exceptionally pointless remake.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 26, 2014
    This is a pretty good remake. I've seen the original Night of the Living Dead, but it was so long ago that I don't even remember much of it, so that'll have to be rectified as the original film is on Netflix. But from what I can remember, this is a pretty faithful remake with a few tweaks here and there, mostly Patricia Tallman's character almost a ripoff of Ripley from the Alien films. She undergoes a transformation throughout the film, from weak to badass, whereas Ripley was just badass right from the start. The ending, while different from the original, still has that social commentary that Romero was known for. While the original had the civil rights struggle as the undercurrent for its ending, this film makes the use of the inhumanity that arises itself when the zombies are "defeated" at the end of the film. The humans are just as bad, if not worse, than the zombies themselves because the humans take great pride in killing, torturing, and burning all the zombies. They're doing this completely while being completely cognizant of their actions. The zombies do the things they do because they pretty much have no other choice, almost as if they were animals...they're just going on instinct. So I think the film captures that inhumanity quite well actually. With this film being so faithful to the original film, even down to the very minimal gore, particularly at this point where Romero had amped up the amount of gore and films like the Return of the Living Dead were also gore-heavy, it's a credit to this film's crew to show such restraint. Because of that, it's probably, while a good film in its own right, not gonna be as fondly remembered or as sought out because of that very reason. Not that I have anything against this restraint that was shown, because I found the stuff inside the house to actually be pretty compelling, because, while the characters themselves were one dimensional, the interactions between them were pretty interesting and seeing the struggle Ben and Mr. Cooper inside the house to do what's best for everybody involved. Again, one dimensional, but I liked it. On top of that with the ending, that I thought was good and pretty smart, you have a pretty good, if not particularly memorable, remake on your hands.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Oct 01, 2013
    The original Night of the Living Dead is warmly embrace by audiences even to this day entertaining and frightening viewers. It introduced the template that started an entire sub genre of zombie films yet few have surpassed it near perfect execution. The question being how does one remake a film that created the blueprint for an entire sub genre? Personally I have no idea how one would do that successfully and neither do the filmmakers behind this remake who failed to bring originality to a game changing film. Night of the Living Dead is about a group of people hiding from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse. Anyone who seen the original will be turned off how closely this remake resembles the original. It's a textbook definition of a by the number remake where the only good narratives elements come from the original. Things start off badly upon the first few minute spending time with an annoying character torturing you as long as he can before he dies. Specific changes like the lack of radio and television broadcast detract from scope. We're not given much of an idea of how big the epidemic is when thrown into it. The message delivery is muddled and ultimately lost because of the new characters changes. In the original "Night of the Living Dead" we had normal people working together for survival even if their differences wanted them to kill each other. Acting like real people second guessing if their action were the right one. In this remake we have seven bickering characters dictating for others to follow their rule. Characters are nothing more than a heavy handed representation of failure to remove yourself from hysteria in a dire situation leading to demise. Most upsetting is it even more backhanded ending aiming to enlighten that perhaps the living is no better than the walking dead. This falls short when you see the characters disregarding common rationalize for an action hero approach in a horror situation. One major upgrade was giving the women larger roles, but even that backfires. Barbara for example goes from being a helpless damsels to an insane killing machine....I mean plot device. Her character is only here to attempt to bring originality in a film that fails to recognize the difference between change and laziness. As a standalone horror film it falls prey to the trapping of horror conventions. The main issue with the film is jumping for scares without buildup. Everything is rushed from character development and pacing that it becomes exhausting. Things that hold true to bad modern horror flick can be applied here. Containing an unnecessary one dimensional and forced unsympathetic villain creating non-conflicts. Stupid characters that rush into every situation without putting much thought (even by horror movie standards having a character shoot a locked gas pump with a shotgun at close range is idiotic). Finally only one logical character that makes it out alive only to fall victim to what they experience changing them. Lessening the fear and having the viewer gripping to their seats with frustration is too many zombie set pieces. An overexposure to the creature that causes fear will diminish what fear it strikes. For an example of how it done correctly take a look at Jaws. In Jaws it plays on your expectations whenever the shark was going to attack keeping you alert not knowing if it was the shark or just the ocean. In this remake zombies are always in position to attack eliminating suspense. It fails to be a standalone piece of horror to stand apart form another generic zombie film and fails as a remake to do anything new with the material. Acting is generally mixed. The actors seem to confuse shouting for dramatic delivery to the point of ludicrous. Whenever the actors are not shouting they are tolerable performing average at best. Some imitating the original actors and others attempting to bring something refreshingly new to the remake. The special effects when it comes to the zombies serve their purpose. There's certainly enough gross makeup effects to make you cringe. Sadly the great make up effect are ruined when it comes the direction. Not everything will look effective in color as it does in black and white. Often being too close to the zombies reveals the secret behind the illusion or to far exposing the visible weak points in the zombies strategy. Music is out of place all the time. It score plays whenever character dialogue is minimal taking away immersion when there is a lack of silence. Night of the Living Dead remake removes the brains ending up just as lifeless as the film creatures. Nothing in the film outshines anything in the original and even as a standalone piece it falls victim to many conventions to strike fear. If it wasn't baring the same name as the beloved classic this would been long forgotten as nothing more than another generic horror flick with nothing interesting compared to what inspired it.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2012
    Forget Dan O'Bannon, this is the real return of the dead, or, more specifically, return of the "Night of the Living Dead". I kind of like the ironic idea of a film about about resurrected beings being remade, or rather, in and of itself resurrected, and lo and behold, here it is, and it's not too much to "moan and groan" about. It's certainly not as worthy of moans and groans as that "moan and groan" pun I just made, no matter how much Tom Savini tries by putting today's more advanced filmmaking sensibilities to the not too terribly good use of only advancing the original's b-movie sensibilities. I can't tell if it's because Savini forgot that "Night of the Living Dead" was one of your better b-movies or because he wanted to make up for "Night of the Living Dead" essentially being the only major early George Romero that he wasn't attached to, but either way, the point is that the Sultan of Splatter (Isn't that a song by Dire Straits?) is keeping things a bit faithful to a fault, forgetting that the original was more ambition for seriousness than b-movie fluffiness. Granted, George A. Romero himself wrote the screenplay to this, and considering how much he's been undercutting his original vision in reason years, I doubt that he even remembers what his original intention was. Eh, whatever, by 1990, he still had enough juice in him to keep a film going through its faults for the most part. That being said, make no mistake, this film faces faults, and more than it should, many of which you may recognize a bit too much. The original was an independent horror film of 1968, and as you would imagine, much b-movie cheesiness ensued and rendered the final product rather underwhelming, yet for every drastic limitation in the film, there was a strength spawned from ambition and even a few sensibilities that were ahead of the game, and with this remake, while we're not facing a borderline spoof on competent filmmaking, we are faced with b-movie sensibilities whose being intentional is palpable enough to work to the film's advantage, to a certain degree, though not to where you can forgive certain b-movie sensibilities for slowing the film down more than keeping it going. George Romero delivers a couple of overly cheesy moments in set piece conception and other areas of writing, while Paul McCollough delivers on some cheesy score work and a few performers deliver on some disconcerting acting faults, - whether they be intentional or not - and faults such as these supplement the rather cheesy atmosphere that Tom Savini establishes a touch too well at times, to where momentum slows down. Further supplementation to the slowing of momentum comes from Tom Dubensky's editing, which is generally decent, and rarely faults for that matter, yet faults at times nevertheless, getting a bit too loose for certain moments of particular intrigue's own good, to where things drag along near-aimlessly and lose a bit of steam after a while. Of course, it's not like the film has all that much steam to begin with, as the story really doesn't have a whole lot of bite to begin with, and when I say, "begin with", I mean the actual beginning of this story, as in the source material. Bite limiting is a complaint that applies to the original, which is the point, because when you get down to it, this film's immense faithfulness is quite possibly its biggest problem. The film certainly adds its fair share of unique touches, yet on the whole, things are a bit too familiar, which would have been just fine, seeing as how the original still had a reasonably strong story that went undercut by the limitations of the budget and time, thus giving this film the potential to succeed through more modern sensibilities where the original fell short, yet the problem is that this film, with all of its intentional b-movie sensibilities and other shortcomings, - both active and consequential - actually dilutes the worthiness of a story, yet not to where you can't recognize things enough to feel the potent lack of originality that goes into carrying this film beneath the quality of its somewhat underwhelming original, and by extension, to an underwhelming state. However, this film, like its source material, doesn't fall too short, because although this film doesn't border on genuinely good as much as the original, it has its high points. Though not especially stunning, nor with some of the unexpectedly cool shots that George Romero pulled when he shot the original, Frank Prinzi's cinematography remains pretty decent in its colorful detail that may be a touch too lively at times for a horror film of this type, yet generally catches your eye. Again, Pinzi's photography isn't too terribly striking, yet it has a certain strength to it that generally keeps you from falling too far out of the film, though not quite as much as the intrigue, which is of course diluted by the films missteps, both intentional and unintentional, yet still has a certain kick to it that kicks along through out the film, going broken up by tension. For this, some credit is due to George Romero's screenplay, which is tainted both by the faults that it held upon its 1968 inception and by its own right, yet still delivers on set pieces, both familiar and unique, that have some momentum to them, and keep intrigue pumping. Of course, Romero doesn't just do a generally decent job at crafting set pieces and certain other areas of the film on paper, because in the big picture, while Romero's story strokes are even more improvable now than they were back in 1968, this story remains decent, with themes that may not be as well-handled as they were in the original, yet still stand pronounced enough to get at you and leave you thinking a bit, intrigued. Romero crafts an immensely flawed yet still reasonably decent reworking of his and John A. Russo's original vision, with person behind the intensification of the degree of effectiveness within Romero's screenplay being the man responsible for bring Romero's moderately adjusted vision to the screen, and by that, I don't just mean that director Tom Savini delivers on sharp makeup and special effects that bring the set pieces alive, largely because Savini didn't actually do the makeup and special effects on this film. He may be finally attached to this title, but it would appear as though Savini is forever doomed to stay out of the makeup department of any film named "The [u]Night[/u] of the [u]Living[/u] Dead", though if he's stuck directing, I suppose I don't mind too terribly much, because although he does make oh so many missteps, both as a hardly experienced filmmaker and director blinded by overambition and some active shortcomings, he sustains your attention more often than not with storytelling that both establishes an effective atmosphere of intrigue more often than not, and finds its moments of b-movie celebration that do, in fact, work as entertaining and charmingly self-aware. If nothing else, the final product is entertaining, and while it desperately needs to be more than simply that, it's hard to mind too much, because through thick and thin, the film comes out more charming and engaging than not. At the end of the day, or rather, second night of the living dead, the film finds expected flaws in its staying to faithful as an homage to b-movie sensibilites, plummeting into cheesy moments that undercut momentum, though not as much as the slowness and overambitious over-faithfulness that make more glaring this story's being even more bland than it was upon its introduction in 1968, thus making for an inferior remake to an underwhelming classic, yet one that doesn't fall too underwhelming either, having a kind of handsome style to it, as well as intrigue established through generally decent set pieces, plotting and other high points within George A. Romero's screenplay, and brought to life by Tom Savini's flawed, yet generally effectively inspired direction, whose charming and entertainment value leaves Savini's "Night of the Living Dead" to stand as a watchable piece of fluff of a remake, even if it, like its original, could have been so much more. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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