John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Sixty-Two : Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Tom Savini didn't need to remake this movie, but I don't think anyone's complaining. First of all, we have full Savini zombie effects, in color. And despite what critics think, it's awesome to look at. Secondly, just listen to this cast. Tony Todd (Candyman) is Ben this time around. Tom Towles, who played Otis in "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" plays Tom. Bill Mosely (Choptop from Texas Chainsaw Massacre II) is in the movie early as the ill fated Johnnie. And to top it off, the only man to be killed by Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, and zombies, veteran Bill Butler plays Tom, complete with a Pittsburgh Steelers hat.
So is the story different?
No. Not really. Everyone ends up in an abandoned farmhouse again. This time, Barbara is much stronger, and far less catatonic, thanks to great work from Patricia Tallman. The same basic chain of events happen. Ben and Barbara bar up the doors in the house, then a group of people in the basement come out and introduce themselves. Harry and Ben bicker about whether or not to go to the basement. Once again, they decide to take a truck out, which needs gas, which Tom goes to get and of course, blows himself up.
This time however, Harry and Ben start shooting at each other. Ben goes downstairs after being hit and Harry goes to the attic. So, Barbara just decides to leave. She goes outside and teams up with those trusty Western PA gun slinging rednecks in different kinds of zombie killing games, including hanging the zombies and throwing rocks at them, as well as randomly shooting them. Hoo-ray. As far as social commentary goes, this scene pretty much has the most, as Barbara mutters, "They're us. We're them and they're us." But the movie really isn't too preachy. It's a gory fun mess.
So she goes back to the house safely, as the zombies are either too slow or just plain outnumbered. Inside she finds Ben, who is now a zombie. But what's even better is finding Harry alive, not a zombie. Does she help him? No. She shoots him. Good for her, because that guy, I have to say, was a real prick.
So that's the remake. Was it necessary? Not at all. But it was a blast to watch. And really, it didn't take anything away from the original, in the way that the "Dawn of the Dead" remake would tarnish the original years later.
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