There is a valid reason for me watching this. It wasn’t just my OCD acting up again.
Stay away, I beg you.
Barbara and Johnny are on their way to their aunt’s funeral at a country cemetery. They arrive to find the place deserted except for a couple of people shambling about in the distance. As they get closer, it’s obvious they’re not quite right; their skin is blotchy, their clothes hang loose and they are a bit bitey. Barbara escapes, finding a remote farmhouse and a family to take shelter with as the reanimated corpses of the recently deceased begin to lay siege. Will any of them survive… the night of the living dead?
The words “blatant cash-in” come to mind when I think about this movie. It is absolutely shameless. Jeff Broadstreet has taken a horror classic and shat on it from a great height. Taking advantage of a well known copyright fubar that left George A. Romero’s masterpiece in the public domain, Broadstreet and his “screenwriter” Robert Valding (who was also the editor and digital effects artist) have gone through the 1968 film and removed every single thing that made it new and exciting and interesting and replaced them all with boobs, bad 3D and bland characterisation*.
If I had to ask you what made 68’s Night so effective, I bet a lot of you would answer that it was nothing to do with the zombies; it was the conflicts in the house. There was a bunch of strangers all trying to exercise their own opinions over the group, and it was the infighting that was the cause of their inevitable downfall. So what happens in 06? First, the house (and the farm it sits on) now belongs to the Coopers. Ben works for them, and Tom and Judy are out in the barn getting naked. Barb is the only stranger. Everybody else knows each other and they’re all friends. So where’s the conflict? Where’s the drama? Bloody nowhere, that’s where. Broadstreet and Valding try to shoehorn in genre legend Sid Haig (proving he will appear in almost any old piece of shit) as a new character, local mortician Gerald Tovar. The man tries his best, but there’s only so much eye-bugging you can do when the story is this awful.
One of the most powerful elements in Romero’s film was the racial subtext in the fights between Ben (African American) and Cooper (middle-aged white guy). Even though it was down to nothing more than fortuitous casting – Ben was not written specifically to be black, it just so happened that Duane Jones was the best actor to audition – it added another level to the picture. Guess what? In 2006, everyone is white. Even the zombies.
The most heinous crime these filmmakers perpetrate is to acknowledge the original film within this turd. When Barb arrives at the Cooper farm, the family are sitting around the TV watching Night of the Living Dead. Yet do any of them comment on the fact that a stranger named Barb just arrived screaming about being attacked by dead people?
If there is one saving grace to this abysmal effort, it’s the makeup. These are good zombies. They keep the slow, shambling walk of the original, and they look like actual decomposing bodies. There is an appalling lack of blood and gore however. As I see it, there are only three people who can walk away from this with their heads held high: makeup designers Dean and Starr Jones, and Brianna Brown, the actress who played Barb. She manages to mine some actual emotion from a script that sometimes sounds like it was written in crayon. Everyone else should practice the “it wasn’t me” defence. Broadstreet also released a prequel earlier this year starring Andrew Divoff and Jeffrey Combs. Please don’t make me watch it.
*In fairness, they are very nice boobs.