The ’90s are often abused by horror fans. After many successful films about editing and the creative effects of the 80’s, the 90’s offered a variety of opportunities for horror travel. Although there have been many successes, hidden gems and little-known classics, the 1990s have generally been less marked by the love of horror than other decades. It’s time to change that.
Is there a more haunting and disturbing horror film than The Night of the Living Dead from 1968? George A’s low-budget masterpiece. Romero created a subgenre of horror and became a prototype in the history of cinema. The idea of recreating Romero’s film seemed doomed from the start, and director Tom Savini could have done the same.
Savini noted that his 1990 remake contained only about 30% of what he intended to do with the lining of the new classics. It’s a pity, and there will always be a cloud over this version. If there were a ton more original elements, the remake would probably distinguish itself even more from its predecessor.
However, this does not mean that the Night of the Living Dead (1990) has no merits of its own. As a director, Savini understands the gloominess of the material, and this is also reflected in the film’s appearance. With cameraman Frank Principle, Savini covers the entire film in blue and grey. It is a stern and depressing look that reminds the audience of the seriousness of the script. The Night of the Living Dead has never been a fun experience, and the remake has the same dark vision.
The most obvious perfection in Night of the Living Dead (1990) is distribution. Tony Todd is a perfect match for Ben. It has always been difficult to follow Duane Jones’ iconic performance, but Todd is a powerful man who has more than earned his place in such an iconic role. The same goes for Tom Towles as for Cooper. The towels seep with the awful look of wild eyes, and it is claimed that he is even better than the original actor Karl Hardman.
As for casting, we need to talk about Patricia Tullman as Barbara. George Romero rewrote the scenario from 1968 and the biggest change was the character Barbara. It’s an intelligent change, because although Barbara is in a way the protagonist of the original film, in the end she forms the background and almost falls silent. It’s a good idea to make Barbara a proactive character, and the switch from Ben to Barbara gives the story a new dynamic. It may be too murderous to make Barbara the hero of Ripley, but Tullman plays the role with the right intensity.
Another factor that has increased is that of the zombies. Although their pain was not excessive, there was certainly a desire to increase their fear factor. The decision to give all zombies milky white eyes is a small touch of genius, and it characterizes these zombies in a very special way. With some creative approaches to corpse design, the undead in The Night of the Living Dead (1990) is seen as a natural development of the spirits in the original film.
Perhaps the most radical deviation is at the end of the film. In this version, Barbara survives and Ben turns into a zombie. Barbara kills Ben, and it’s a legally tragic moment. The relationship between Ben and Barbara in The Night of the Living Dead (1990) may have been stronger, but it is more than enough to deserve this goal. Even more surprising is the fate of Cooper, who actually survived the attack and was killed in cold blood by Barbara. It is a powerful and cataclysmic finale, perhaps even more appropriate than Cooper’s ending in the 1968 film.
It will always be difficult to separate Night of the Living Dead (1990) from the original material, but when it comes to horror remakes, they have their strengths. The cast, direction, aspects of the production and changes in the story are impressive on several levels. There can never be a version of Night of the Living Dead that would obscure this stage, but Tom Savini’s attempt to do this makes his father proud to honor the original and do his best to try something else.
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