Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

28 April 2008

Night of the Living Dead - 3-D, dir. Jeff Broadstreet (2006)

STEVE says: I'm almost embarrassed to tell y'all this... but I didn't hate this movie.

In fact, I kinda enjoyed it.

I was prepared to hate it, of course. A remake of Night of the Living Dead? This is hallowed ground; real "Where Angels Fear to Tread" territory. And in 3D, no less. Throw Sid Haig in there and it loses its last shred of credibility. (Nothing against Sid, but he's clearly here for his camp value and nothing more.)

So 33 minutes in, when I was still not hating the movie (even though they'd opted not to use the line from the original, possibly the most iconic lines in horror movie history, "They're coming to get you, Barbara!"), I decided - better late than never - to give it a chance.

It was not a masterpiece, by any stretch of anyone's imagination. And it was only very tangentially a remake. It had all the elements of Night of the Living Dead but it used them in different ways. One is tempted to call it a "re-imagining", but it's closer to the truth to say they pulled a Lawnmower Man with it: there was an already valid, interesting story here, into which the film maker's decided to shoehorn a bunch of references to Night of the Living Dead - characters named Barb, Johnny, Ben, etc.; farmhouse; Zombies - and they needn't have done because the story was fairly solid on its own.

After being attacked by zombies at her aunt's funeral, Barb is rescued by Ben. They head off to the Cooper farmhouse where we meet Henry and Hellie, their daughter Karen, and Owen the "hired help". Seems the Cooper's have quite a good crop growing on their farm, and Ben was coming around to make a purchase. Already, we're so far removed from the original that you have to be asking yourself why, apart from name recognition, they bothered at all.

Once we wade through the obligatory first few minutes of disbelief, everyone gets on the same page and they work together (kicking the original movie's "basement vs. upstairs" argument and Ben and Harry/Henry's antagonism right out the window). Haig stops by, here playing the guy who runs the local cemetery, and we learn that this whole thing is pretty much his fault. He's afraid of fire, y'see, and he hadn't cremated any bodies since his dad died two years back. And when the experimental chemicals he was also supposed to burn accidentally leaked into the mortuary...

See what they did there? New characters; an explanation for the Zombie outbreak; a fairly contained area instead of a global epidemic. This so easily could have been its own movie, and once I put the original out of my mind, it was easy to kick back and enjoy it.

The 3D pretty much sucked, though. Apart from the money-shots, it was like watching a regular movie. (Still, better than fucking Amityville 3D in my opinion.) So, as much as I'd love to rate this a 3, it's losing half for masquerading as a remake of a classic, for not living up to its potential, and for improper use of a gimmick.


NIKKI says:
Wow, it really didn't suck. It was a masterpiece, either, but it held my interest. I am, however, starting to get very suspicious of this whole 3D thing. This was worse than AMityville in terms of it's 3D design. At least the master shots in Amityville had depth of field. This one didn't seem three dimensional at all. I could see the red and green outlines, but with my 3D glasses on, nothing changed. Nothing jumped out, nothing looked even remotely 3D.

So, that was monumentally disappointing, especially considering how much just the 3D-ness of a shit movie like Jaws 3D can make me love it. This movie was actually okay, so some good effects would have bumped up who knows how many stars! Instead, it stays on 2.5 because it gypped me.

I also like the Sid Haig twist. I couldn't believe it when he lifted that shovel! But, Steve's right -- with that twist, it could have just been its own movie. It didn't need to be a remake or a reimagining of George Romero's film. That is all.