A cunning remake of George A. Romero’s black and white zombie classic Night of the Living Dead is a taut and terrifying return to the macabre scene of mayhem and dismemberment where the recently deceased begin rising from the grave as flesh-hungry zombies.
Tom Savini’s remake of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, released in 1990, is one of the movies that destroys any argument about remakes being pointless. I’m sure it helps that Savini had the blessing, and the help of Romero himself, but this is a fantastic horror movie. I still hold the original well above this in the ranks, but it managed to capture so much of what the original film either intended to do, or wound up doing anyway. The political undertones are still there, but not hammered in your face, the atmosphere is spooky, the acting is all spot-on, the set design is genuine and accurate, and the overall tone of the original was retained. One area where the remake shines above the original is the gore effects. This is Savini we’re talking about here, so there’s plenty of chunky practical red stuff, and it all looks great. The original was ahead of its time in that regard, with the zombies actually eating body parts on-screen, but it was the 60s, and there was way less to work with as far as latex and other things that would become a must during the Eighties.
For a long time now, this has been one of my favorite remakes, and one of my favorite zombie movies. The original is my favorite horror movie of all time, and it feels like it gets more effective after each revisit, and I think Savini’s remake has that same impact. It’s not as iconic as the original, but it has the same force behind its punch, maybe a little more for some people, do to the extreme gore and practical effects. It’s brutal and unflinching, but not without adding its own take on some of the things that transpired in the original. At least one of the changes doesn’t make sense to me, but it certainly doesn’t ruin the experience. If anything, it gives you a good reason to double feature these movies, just to get the full impact. Night of the Living Dead ’90 is one of those rare remakes where the consensus is overwhelmingly positive. But, in fairness, it wasn’t birthed in the internet era, where the one and only reason to open your mouth is to complain about something. Had it been released today, I’m sure it would have a wealth of detractors. In spite of all that, it stands the test of time, and stands firmly as one of the greatest modern horror remakes of our time.
Two questions will immediately be on collector’s mind. The first is would be the issue of the Twilight Time transfer, with a blue hue to kind of add more of an actual “Night” feeling to the movie, considering its title. Personally I didn’t mind their Blu-ray, though I have wanted an original HD transfer just to have the option, and now I have it. So no, there is no blue gloss overtop of Umbrella’s transfer of this film. It looks exactly how you remember it, in that regard, only presented in a gorgeous AVC-encoded 1080p transfer, with an average bitrate of 3o Mbps. It also features a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, which sounds great, and fills every corner of your media room with the sounds of moaning and groaning, and bombards you when the carnage begins. Another question a potential purchaser might have is in regards to region coding, and I’m happy to report that Umbrella’s Blu-ray is totally region free. No fancy tricks or special hardware required to enjoy this beauty. As far as the extras are concerned, you’ll get a Tom Savini commentary track, ported over, as well as the old The Dead Walk featurette. For this release there is also a new interview with Tom Savini, And new interviews with John Vulich, Everett Burrell and Patricia Tallman. Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of Night of the Living Dead 1990 is now available, and you can purchase a copy for yourself by visiting their website, or here from Amazon.
Audio commentary with Tom Savini
The Dead Walk featurette
New Tom Savini Interview
New John Vulich and Everett Burrell interview
New Patricia Tallman interview
Behind the Scenes featurette
RUNNING TIME: 88 MIN
AUDIO: FORMAT 5.1 DTS-HD MA
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9