By now you’ve already seen the Skull count to your right. I’ll bet you’ve even read the reviews that’ve come before this one. I’m willing to wager that you—cunning horror fan that you are—are still going to see this movie. Why? It’s the same reason we all rented GIGLI. It’s the deep seeded masochism that forces our hand to the video store shelves to pick up the coverbox for SCARECROWS GONE WILD or S.I.C.K. It’s the whole reason Ulli Lommel has a career anymore. You want to see this shit! Don’t deny it. Embrace it. Live it. Love it. And for Chrissakes…why not see it in 3D!
Today. Right now. I stand by this statement. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D is not that bad. Go ahead…I’ll wait. Start sending Brad the e-mails right now. Tell him that I’m a fucking idiot. I don’t care. I’ve heard it all before. But try and follow me here for the next 696 words—it won’t take to much time away from playing Halo 3. OK? Here it goes. If you lower your expectations so far down—we’re talking subterranean here—than NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D is not “that” bad.
I mean really…what were you expecting anyway?
Writer Robert Valding and Director Jeff Broadstreet don’t exactly replicate George Romero and John Russo’s zombie classic. This is kind of an original take (stop laughing) and that’s the problem. A producer convinced Broadstreet to shoot the film because NotLD is a public domain title and therefore can be used and obviously abused without paying the original creators a penny. Certainly films have been made for less glorious reasons than name recognition, but in a marketplace where major studios are opening re-makes, revisions and reimaginings of anything and everything under the sun, it’s hard to fault a couple of low-budget filmmakers for trouncing all over the holy grail of zombie films one more time—after all, 2005’s DAY OF THE DEAD: CONTAGIUM pretty much raped Romero’s living dead of all their remaining dignity anyway.
The story is more-or-less the same as Barb (Brianna Brown) and her ill-fated brother Johnny (Ken Ward) head off to the cemetery. When they arrive at the funeral, the place is deserted. Pretty soon the zombies attack and Johnny heads off quick leaving Barb and us in the cemetery wondering why the greasy-haired brother never got to utter his immortal line (“They’re coming to get you Barbara”). Later on we get a 21st century solution to the vexing quandary. Barbara heads over to the mortuary when a shovel wielding Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig, playing mortuary owner Gerald Tovar Jr.) shows up and tells her to get the hell out of there. She does, and is later rescued by a two-fisted-ass-kicking-motorcycle-riding-drug-dealer Ben (Joshua DesRoches) who takes Barb up to the Cooper Farmhouse, which now houses a gang of ganja growers who are sitting around, smoking out, and taking in a late night screening of the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on the ancient television set—talk about prescient!
At this point you can pretty much tell what’s going to happen next. And even though the film escapes the house and tosses in some misplaced familial intentions and a little governmental conspiracy along the way, it can’t shake one overriding problem. It doesn’t feel like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
Truth be told. If you’re gonna sell me a 3D version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD than damnit, I want to see NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD! This film could have been called anything. Change the character names around, even leave in the cemetery as a wink to the obvious rip-off your doing, but don’t call it NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. It’s not. It’s not even close. It’s just another half-assed zombie film in a world full of zombie films. It might be in 3D, but who cares? It’s hardly better or worse than the 2 or 3 dozen other undead opuses that shuffle their stinking corpses into the jaded DVD players of horrorhounds each and every year. What makes it different? I guess this time I can pop on my blue/red cardboard lenses and watch as a half-baked meat puppet offers me a fat joint shoved six inches from my face in magical 3D. Is it better than ROBOT MONSTER? Maybe. So what!
In all actuality the 3D isn’t too bad. And Director Broadstreet has a pretty good grasp on setting up composition and perspective shots that take advantage of the extra dimension. Too bad they didn’t spend more time on the script or in exacting some semblance of performance from the actors—especially Greg Travis (TOOLBOX MURDERS) who seems devoid of emotion even when his only child is gnawing away at his jugular.
Like I said before, neither hell nor high water would have kept me from checking this sucker out. Far be it for me to advise you otherwise. But I maintain that this film might not have felt as big a backlash, or been perceived as any worse than most other direct-to-video zombie flicks, if the people behind it hadn’t been so damn adamant about abusing that precious “name recognition”. Yeah…we’ve all heard of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and what you gave us was nothing like it.