NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: 30TH...
Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
George A. Romero, John A. Russo
Judith O Dea
What's it about
The undead seek the living to eat their flesh, leaving a group of really freaked out people stuck in a farmhouse. And the zombies keep on coming.
Is it good movie?
Now if youíve looked at the stars I gave to this certified horror masterpiece, letís set something straight. This isnít the certified horror masterpiece directed by George A. Romero. No folks, this is a revisited version, retouched so to speak by the original producers. So how can one tell which version is which? Well, with a movie like Night of the Living Dead (much like Evil Dead), itís difficult to pin point considering the number of different Anchor Bay releases over the least decade or so. The original clocks in at 90 minutes, but this DVD, the 30th Anniversary Edition, clocks in at 96, incoprating 15 minutes of new footage edited in (not old cut scenes, but newly filmed). And not just edited and added ala Star Wars, but major changes with new music, new cuts, and new zombies. (I guess George Lucas did make Greedo shoot first).
See, the producers decided itíd be fun to create new scenes and make the film they always wanted to make, even though Romero wasnít involved (they state he wanted to but couldnít due to scheduling). Now something could be confused. Night of the Living Dead was made in 1968, so why is the 30th Anniversary Edition being released? Well, remember the confusion of having too many editions? Instead of printing new covers stating itís the 40th Anniversary, they reused the same material from a decade ago. Adding to even more confusion, the DVD comes in a slipcase marked Horror Legacy Series stating it is celebrating the 30th Anniversary, even though that took place ten years before! Talk about trying to milk the fans.
As for the film, the power of Night of the Living Dead actually remains unchanged with the new edition, but the new scenes just donít fit. Even though theyíre in black and white, the people donít resemble that of the late 60ís. Moreover, I donít understand what the scenes add. The producers felt the additions would help to explain where the madness came from and how it affected the area. However, the lack of explanation added to the fear of the original. Explaining things ruin that, removing the mystery and the terror of the unknown. While they donít go the extent of a Resident Evil or Return of the Living Dead, the additions distract. Especially in beginning; this now has a pair of gravediggers driving and attempting to bury the first zombie of the movie. It just doesnít fit and contains a lot of cheesy, unnecessary dialogue and removes any shock to the initial attack. The rest of the changes come from a few new zombies (car wreck victims and a waitress), added effects, and new radio information.
Video / Audio
Video: Full Screen and in oh so pretty B & W.
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Beyond the extras below and the usual stash of trailers and galleries, thereís also the original film, which they refer to as the 90-minute Ďedití, with all new music.
30th Anniversary Behind the Scenes: Eight minutes of looks at the new 15 minutes shot for the movie. Not a lot of reasons given why they did it here. Bland.
Audio Commentary Producers John A. Russo, Bill Hinzman, Russ Streiner and Bob Michelucci congratulate themselves an awful lot, but they give some decent reasons as to why they made the changes. Mostly informative, though at times annoying, especially minus Romero.
Scene for ĎFlesh Eaterí: A quick one minute clip that shows a little girl being eaten.
Dance of the Dead Music Video: Techno zombie music with scenes and audio. Do people watch this type of thing?
As for Night of the Living Dead itself, its impacted remains felt 40 years later. Itís the ultimate independent movie and still has plenty of shock left. The underlying themes of civil rights and unrest seep through the movie. If someone has seen Romeroís Night of the Living Dead a dozen times and wants to change things up, this version is mildly worth checking out to see something new. However, if you havenít seen it or havenít for a long time, find the real McCoy and see why that version is considered an American masterpiece. At the very least, youíd think Anchor Bay could update the text and get the math right.