... aka: Night of the Living Dead
... aka: Zombie 3D
In my personal opinion, George Romero's original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) is one of the five best horror movies ever created, so any film that attempts to remake it has its work cut out for it. And yes, I'm one of those die hard horror fans who believe that remakes should be held up to the high standards of the original film. After all, why even make them in the first place if there's no real way to improve on the first? Are certain filmmakers arrogant enough to actually think they can do a better job? Do they feel modern special effects technology will somehow improve it? Do they feel hiring every other person frequently employed by the CW network will improve it? Or do they want to lazily and cheaply cash in on a name made bankable by another person? In the case of this film, I lean toward the latter. Either way, NOTLD '06 fails to justify its existence since it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. One could argue the 3D effects justify it, but it's not even the first zombie film shot in 3D and many people who watch it won't have 3D glasses on hand anyway, so that theory doesn't really cut it with me.
Even though I'm not even a huge fan of Tom Savini's 1990 remake (which also pales in comparison to the first film), I can still recognize it as a decent and fairly well made zombie film. This second remake is a further step down in quality. While usually teetering on average much of the time, it never once musters up any genuine tension, suspense, atmosphere or horror. The political/social subtext is now gone, the acting is very uneven, it's full of lame attempts at humor, the dialogue is mostly awful and the changes made to the original storyline are neither inventive or interesting. So what's different between this one and the original? Of course, it's in color. Of course, the zombie make-up is more elaborate. Ben (Joshua DesRoches) is now a white, motorcycle-riding college student with perfectly groomed hair throughout. Barb (Brianna Brown) doesn't go crazy and is actually kind of a bitch. The Coopers are friendly backwoods pot harvesters with an adopted daughter. Judy and Tom are limited to a barn sex scene and she runs around outside naked to provide some customary nudity. There's also a pothead handyman who I think is supposed to be funny. The fog machine never stops. There's also a subplot here involving a mortician (played by Sid Haig) who is responsible for the zombie outbreak.
Even though much has actually been changed, this material still isn't anything new and the whole thing is by-the-numbers, predictable and forgettable. Then again, I suppose those who don't hold the Romero film in such high regard might find it all brainlessly entertaining. It just didn't do much for me. I've seen it all done - and done much better - many times before.