A high-tech, color remake of the 1968 black-and-white low-budget horror classic about corpses that come back to life as flesh-eating zombies and terrorize the Pennsylvania countryside. Following the original plot almost to the letter (with a few surprises thrown in), the film opens in a rural cemetery where the heroine Barbara and her brother are visiting the grave of their mother. The brother is killed by one of the zombies and Barbara seeks refuge in a farmhouse with six other survivors. While desperately trying to barricade the house against the zombies, the seven people inside fight among themselves, undermining their attempts to fend off the slow-moving, but relentless army of ghouls.
Directed by: Tom Savini
. Starring: Tony Todd
, Patricia Tallman
, Tom Towles
, McKee Anderson
, William Butler
, Katie Finneran
, Bill Moseley
, Heather Mazur
, David W. Butler
, Zachary Mott
, Pat Reese
, William Cameron
, Pat Logan
. Music by: Paul McCollough
The script is pretty weak and at least as many bad things as good things were brought over from the original for this remake, but the 1990 version of George Romero's classic horror film has its heart in the right place, I guess you could say. The movie wastes no time, starting out in a cemetery where a bickering brother and sister have driven no small amount of distance to visit the grave of their mother. So the Don't Go Into A Cemetery rule of horror movies is immediately broken and swiftly punished. I really liked the way the zombies were introduced, it reminded me of the zombies in Shaun of the Dead, where Shaun walked among them, not paying attention to his surroundings, before noticing that he was surrounded by the walking dead.
Patricia Tallman turns in a satisfactory performance as Barbara, the sister involved in the opening scene and the heroine of the movie. I thought it was strange that she turns out to be such a strong character when at the beginning of the movie she was immediately reduced to a blubbering basket-case when she arrived at the farmhouse in which most of the movie takes place. Granted, she had just witnessed her brother being killed by a zombie, but no matter how much I sympathize with their plight, I can't stand hysterical people in horror movies, male or female. When someone starts whining and moaning and screaming and crying and sobbing and blubbering and won't even respond to someone shaking them and hollering into their face, I just want them to hurry up and get killed so they'll shut the hell up.
Harry Cooper is still the same ridiculous jerkoff he was in the first movie, displaying an entirely unacceptable and unjustifiable state of constant rage, even when finally finding himself in the company of other living, breathing people rather than mindless zombies. Just like the security guard in Dawn of the Dead, this guy wants his own way, even if it means separating himself from other living people, who are fast becoming an endangered species. One thing I'm not sure I understand is the way his insults have been updated to fit the modern times of 1990. At one point, after locking himself, his wife and his zombie-bitten daughter alone together in the basement, he flings a few more vicious insults at the people in the rest of the house, curiously calling them 'lame-brains,' and 'yo-yo's.' If this movie was meant to be shown on the Disney channel, I could understand including such words in the script. But it wasn't. I don't even think the Disney channel was around in 1990.
The zombies are updated, needless to say, but they're not over-the-top and they maintain the general appearance of the original zombies. There's nothing worse than using special effects just because they're there, and this remake doesn't do it. Then there are newer horror movies made that try to improve upon the make-up in the original films, such as the first color installment in the Night of the Living Dead series, the original Dawn of the Dead, tried to do it in color and wound up with a lot of bad extras wearing blue make-up all over their faces. Awful.
There are lots of radio broadcasts throughout about an epidemic of mass murder being committed by a virtual army of unidentified assassins and do not attempt to reach loved ones and blah blah blah. A brother and sister finally get Ben's truck running enough to get it to the gas pump (the fact that it was out of gas should have been mentioned earlier than it was, because it looked a little ridiculous to see him drive up to the house and then frantically shake Barbara, asking her repeatedly if she has a car), only to be killed by fatal stupidity.
I have to admit that I thought the ending was fairly clever. The horribly ironic ending of the original has been changed, but it's still horribly ironic. The whole gang of characters gets saved by a bunch of drunken rednecks, who gleefully and repeatedly shoot zombies between pounding cans of beer, stringing them up in the trees and whatnot, while one character has a bit of insight about the zombies, 'They're us and we're them.' Nice, but I could have done without the philosophy lesson.
I think this remake really tried hard to justify itself, to be more than just a static colorization of a classic, and I think that to a large extent it succeeds. Where it falls short is that it doesn't know what is good and what can be changed about the original. Lots of good is brought through, but there are a few things that I could simply have done without. I'm not a big fan of people remaking classic movies and changing them, but Harry Cooper needs a total character overhaul. Nevertheless, this one's worth a look.
Review by Michael DeZubiria from the Internet Movie Database.