Tom Savini Did the Original Classic Proud With His ‘Night of the Living Dead’ [We Love ’90s Horror] – Bloody Disgusting

The 90s often get a bad rap with horror fans. Afterthe numerous successful slashers and creature effects films of the 80s, the 90s offered a different variety of horror fare. Though there were plenty of hits, hidden gems, and misunderstood classics, the 90s usually dont get the kind of love that other decades get when it comes to horror.Its time to change that.

Is there a more influential and game-changing horror movie than 1968s Night of the Living Dead? George A. Romeros low budget masterpiece created an entire horror sub-genre and has gone on to be a touchstone in the history of cinema. The idea of remaking Romeros movie would seem doomed from the get-go, and for director Tom Savini, it might have been.

Savini has gone on record that his 1990 remake only features about 30% of what he intended to do with a new take on the classic. Thats unfortunate and will always be a cloud that hangs over this version. If there were a ton of more original elements, the remake would likely stand apart from its predecessor in even starker ways.

However, thats not to say Night of the Living Dead (1990) is without its own merits. As a director, Savini understands the bleakness of the material and that is reflected in the films look. Along with cinematographer Frank Prinzi, Savini coats the entire movie in a blue and gray color scheme. Its a dour and depressing look that reminds the audience of the scenarios severity. Night of the Living Dead was never a fun experience and the remake commits to that same dismal outlook.

The most obvious excellence in Night of the Living Dead (1990) is the cast. Tony Todd is an incredible get for the role of Ben. It was always going to be a struggle to follow Duane Joness landmark performance, but Todd is a powerhouse who more than earns his spot in such an iconic role. The same can be said of Tom Towles as Cooper. Towles oozes awfulness with his wild-eyed stare, and theres an argument to be made that hes even better than original actor Karl Hardman.

When it comes to the cast, we have to talk about Patricia Tallman as Barbara. George Romero rewrote the 1968 screenplay and the biggest change was to the character of Barbara. Its a smart change considering that Barbara is somewhat introduced as the protagonist in the original film but is eventually backgrounded and falls practically silent. Turning Barbara into a proactive character is a good idea, and shifting some of the focus from Ben to Barbara adds new dynamics to the story. It might have been overkill to turn Barbara into a Ripley-esque ber action hero, but Tallman plays the part with appropriate intensity.

Another factor that has been intensified are the zombies. While they arent excessive when it comes to their gore, there was definitely a desire to up their scary factor. The decision to give all the zombies milky white eyes is a minor stroke of genius, and it characterizes these zombies in a very particular way. Along with a few creative approaches to the corpse design, the undead in Night of the Living Dead (1990) feel like natural evolutions of the original films ghouls.

Maybe the most radical deviation is in the films ending. In this version, Barbara survives and Ben is turned into a zombie. Barbara kills Ben and its a legitimately tragic moment. The relationship between Ben and Barbara in Night of the Living Dead (1990) could be a little stronger, but what is there is more than adequate to earn this ending. Whats even more surprising is the fate of Cooper, who actually lives through the assault and is murdered by Barbara in cold blood. Its a powerful and cathartic finale that might even be more appropriate than Coopers ending in the 1968 film.

Its always going to be difficult to separate Night of the Living Dead (1990) from its source material, but as far as horror remakes go, its got its bright spots. The cast, direction, production aspects, and changes to the narrative are all impressive on various levels. There can never be a version of Night of the Living Dead that eclipses the milestone, but Tom Savinis attempt does its papa proud by honoring the original and trying its best to try something different.

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Tom Savini Did the Original Classic Proud With His 'Night of the Living Dead' [We Love '90s Horror] - Bloody Disgusting

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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