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Old 01-19-2012, 03:20 AM

Got your 'Hater' t-shirt on? Go ahead, I'll wait.

Yeah buddy, this week's "Living Dead" rumination waddles onto our darling like a tipsy hobo (like there isn't any other) and tries to clean their car's windshield - only making the once clear glass, murky. Good job bro.

Yeah, no.

Today we cover the two NOTLD tinkers; the DVD releases which manipulated or if you so choose, tampered with the 1968 horror masterpiece.

Lookout for the darkness.

Our first is the recut with then newly filmed footage re-do, "Night Of The Living Dead: 30th Anniversary". Man, I could've sworn this had a limited theatrical release in 1999. The date I found was August 24th, but that's the DVD release date. I looked at my archives and confirmed the home video street. There's a glitch in the Matrix, maybe. So in lieu of any stats, I'm going to dive in.

As mentioned a moment ago, this was released on DVD (a gold disc, before the standard silver) on August 24th, 1999 from Anchor Bay Entertainment (#DV10951) in two separate editions; single disc $24.95 (#DV10889) and a two disc, Limited Edition (only 15,000 produced) for $34.95. I have the latter, bought new off Ebay dirt cheap - for good reason. Looking at my records, this happened sometime in 2004. I have a listings of what became part of my library; month per month, year per year. I'm anal.

I'm going to be talking about the "Limited Edition". There are two inserts, a mini thirty-two page booklet; I've haven't run into another one of those. And a chapter listing (printed on cardstock), thirty for the 30th and twenty-four for the remastered 1998 version. The other side of that is what appears to be the poster for the re-do. The single disc version omits the booklet. The DVD case is an Alpha, the thick kind of case that has two openings. I hate these, it's designed for scratching. You need to use your finger under the disc to pry it, there event a slot that reads "Lift Here". Planned obsolesce, if you ask me.

The motion picture is ninety-six minutes long (both editions).

- - -


* Newly remastered print
* Fifteen minutes of new film footage
* New score by Scott Vladimir Licina
* 1998 Edition, original cut, remastered with new score
* Commentary: writer/director John A. Russo, executive producer Bill Hinzman, producer Russell Streiner and art director/associate director Bob Michelucci (30th Anniversary)
* Behind The Scenes Featurette (30th, full screen, black and white, 9:14 minutes)
* Scene From The Bill Hinzman Film "Flesheater" (1994, full screen, black and white, 1:04 minutes)
* "Dance Of The Dead" music video by Scott Vladimir Licina (full screen, color tinted, 3:37 minutes)
* Slide Show Gallery (30th, full screen, 4:09 minutes, 40 images)
* Trailer (full screen)

- - -


* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (both editions)

- - -


There are no subtitle options.

The DVD is not dubbed in any language(s).

This is the first time the film has received a DD 5.1 remix.

The second disc is the CD sountrack.

The booklet features interviews with John Russo, Bill Hinzman, Debbie Rochon and Licina. Since there is no CD track listings, the last page has the track names. Man, reading this is amazing. Either they really believed their own hype and thought they made a truely awesome film or... drugs. Lots of a lots of nose candy. 'Best movie evar!'


Where to begin?

*long deep sigh*

How about with a quote...
He [John Russo] has butchered, defaced and ruined one of the greatest horror films of all time.
- Harry Knowles

Russo (Washington Military Reporter in the 1968 film) wrote and directed the new scenes. Originally Romero was to have co-written and directed the new material, but it failed to happen. Why? Zombies. George was working on a screenplay for Capcom, the aborted "Resident Evil" adaptation. It also went in a different direction as did the final film, Google it.

In the end, Romero DID NOT participate in the re-do. The only thing that can be said is that he gave Russo his blessing to try and that he did liked the new score.

The new footage include:

* The grave diggers (Danny played by Grant Cramer and Mike by Adam Knox) brings the coffin of a child killer/molester from prison (where he was executed) to the cemetery; this is same pick-up truck Ben (Duane Jones) finds and drives from Beekman's Diner.

* The parents (Arthur Krantz played by George Drennen and Hilda Krantz by Julie Wallace Deklavon) of the slain child are at the gave site - making sure he's dead, one final look before he's buried. Rev. Hicks (Licina) says a pray before leaving the diggers to their business. The body re-animates and attacks Mike, they drive off. This is the same ghoul who attacks Barbra (Judy O'Dea) and Johnny (Russell Streiner) later.

* The aftermath of the dinner massacre is shown, undead feasting on a car crash victim. Hinzman's daughter Heidi, plays Rosie, the waitress from Beekman's.

* Additional footage of zombies coming to the house.

* Footage of the ghouls eating the remains of Judy (Judith Ridley) and Tom (Keith Wayne).

* A television reporter (Darlene Davis played by Debbie Rochon) and camera man back at the cemetery the following day, interviews Reverend Hicks (Appalachian much?). While the locals kill off more zombies.

* Hicks confronts patient zero (as it were - returned to the graveyard) with his bible and is bitten in the face. The ghoul is killed by the posse.

* One year later at Ormsby Medical Center, Darlene interviews Hicks again. He didn't turn, the preacher is still human (Hicks attributes his survival to God). The man is under constant observation, fearful that he may become one of them. His blood is being studied. He has a guard dog, a tiny canine, Mushu. The critter isn't for his protection, but ours. Should he turn, the dog will be the first one eaten and its screams will give notice to that fact. Hicks then goes on a rant that the undead are possessed by demons and must be spiked. This frightens Ms. Davis and she leaves.

- - -

Fifteen minutes of new footage at the expensive of fifteen minutes of original footage *head shakes*; gone is various character development. Gone is Ben seaching for wood and nails to fortified the house. Barbara's long recap of what happened to her and her brother is shortened. Gone are the marital problems of Harry (Karl Hardman) and Helen Cooper (Marilyn Eastman), they don't bicker. Harry's ego is check too. Mention of the Venus probe is abbreviated, probably since the new cause is supernatual; taking a cue from "Dawn Of The Dead" (1979), 'When there is no room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth.' And all that's left of Barbra is hysterics; the pieces of her mind are thrown.

As noted above, there is no official explanation why the dead have risen; people has latched on to the exploded satellite (which had strange radiation). But that may NOT be source. For this iteration, the cause is a vengeful God.

Others have mentioned that society began to collapse weeks after the dead rose ("Dawn Of The Dead"); one year later things are pretty much normal in this new ending.

- - -

The biggest tripe is expecting us to believe the cemetery ghoul is the same. Hinzman was thirty-one when he did it the first time, he was sixty-two when he reprised his role. It shows, c'mon who are we kidding? The idea is cute, but should've been executed with an actor who looks like Hinzman (maybe with a mask involved).

Some have complained that the radio announcer (heard in the house) is a bad impersonation of the original. Sorry folks, that's the same guy, reprising his voice - Charles Craig (also the TV news anchor). The broadcast IS different since it was modified for the new footage.

A nice bit; when the grave diggers leave the prison in the background a tanker truck is seen driving by; the same tanker Ben describes to Barbra that was on fire. A nice touch - I will give them that.

You gotta love these quotes from the commentary, both from Russell Streiner...
It's important from a filmmakers stand point, to, that we - in approaching this 30th anniversary edition. We as filmmakers wanted to keep the integrity of the original film.
Anybody who appreciates the craft of filmmaking will appreciates how this, the new footage is integrated with the old footage without tampering with the content of the original film at all.
Sir, you failed.

You can understand why so many people hold this version in contempt. Try to imagine - learning that pandas don't naturally have those dark circles around their eyes. And there's a guy in the zoo whose job it is punch them in the face every few days to keep up appearances; that's a close approximation, emotionally speaking.

I know, you're picturing it too; poor, poor Ling-Ling.

The original music appears when Barbra and Johnny search for their father's grave. When the first zombie attack happen in the house, before we met the rest of the players in the basement. When Ben goes up stairs to take care of eaten corpse. When the second wave of ghouls attack the house. When Ben, Tom and Judy leave to get gas and subsequent explosion. When Ben gets back to the house. When all hell breaks loose, Ben shoots Harry; ghouls almost get Helen. When the zombies finally get in. And lastly when the posse is close to farm house.

Amazon reviewer, Bill Robinson noted a flub. At the car crash, one of the kids who got killed. Her shoes are contemporary, what appears to be Sketchers. A product that didn't exist in the late 1960s, duh!

Another is by commenter, XQuester; how come the passeners of that crashed car are still 'perfectly seated' even though they were NOT wearing seatbelts? The car crashed, hard into a tree. They would've shoot through the windshield, like those clowns blasted out of cannons. A good example would be during the opening credits of "Zombieland" (2009), the woman who crashed (that's reality based, not pretty).

I think it's on purpose that Rev. Hicks looks like Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church Of Satan. Man, at least I hope so. Dude?

That featurette isn't one - false advertising, it's just home video clips edited together. Meh. The only thing interesting is an on set visit by none other than Karl Hardman, smoking a cigar.

For an abomination, the picture quality is very good. Even though this is full screen, the image does not touch the sides, fuzzy black boarders. The audio was good to okay, I don't have a sound system so I can't give a better review here. But what I caught immediately was the simulated stereo. I remember hearing this on episodes of "MASH" when it aired on channel 11 here, Fox, Los Angeles.

After viewing it (he bought a copy), Harry Knowles, webmaster of Ain't It Cool News made the following edict on September 19th, 1999:
I will ban anyone that likes this piece of shit from my talkback. WHY? Simply because If you like this piece of shit abortion of a product, I could really give a shit if you ever read my site. No nice words will be spoken about John Russo or that Reverend Big Teeth in any place that I have created. Those intellectually deprived, artistically bankrupt hacks should be shunned from society. ANY magazine that has promoted this festering pussbucket of a product should be BURNED! It is terrible in the ways that ... I don’t know what way. Cause I’ve never experienced anything that sucked this hard.
- - -

My thoughts?

It's superflatulistichalitosis or excrementainment.

BUT I am okay with the overall notion. It would make a cool expanded motion picture, like the paperback novelization by Christopher Andrews (Rising Star Visionary Press, 2009; this on my list, I have read a sample chapter and various positive reviews, I like what I've seen).

What happened here is they had a high concept that was carried out with limited budget and a talent pool which couldn't execute it properly. Add to the mix bad actors, hamming it up to the camera. And the gumption to believe they improved on the original. A bad combination. Plus they took out so much of what gave the film, flavor - what made it feel true and not hokey. We all know people like these characters, it's not so removed from real life. Well, minus the dead rising to feast on the living of course.

As written in The Seattle Times on August 20th, 1999 (Mark Rahner, reporting); the production has a budget of $300,000. It needed at least twice that much to get it done proper. There is one dead body in the new footage, the above referred car crash. The corpse looks like a puppet, it has NO weight to it. So very fake. Why did it look like Hardman?

Last edited by JohnIan; 10-12-2012 at 12:09 AM..
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