Remakes of any kind have always been a tricky proposition, especially in horror. The first reaction of many when it comes to such things is often instant condemnation, and for good reason: the overwhelming majority of remakes/revisions fall flat on their face when compared to the original work that inspired them. Occasionally, however, there comes along a remake/revision that not only pays great homage to the original, but can stand on its own feet as an excellent film. The 1990 version of "Night of the Living Dead" proves this without exception. Produced by the late, great original "Night of the Living Dead" director George Romero, and directed by special effects guru and constant Romero collaborator Tom Savini, it follows the same basic plot of the original film, but also adds a few new things in the mix as well.
If you saw the original film, you know the plot: Barbara and her prankster brother Johnnie are at the cemetery to lay flowers on their mother's grave when Johnnie, sensing Barbara's fear and unease concerning graveyards, taunts her with the infamous phrase, "They're coming to get you, Barbara." Little does he know, he's about to proved correct when the living dead attack. Barbara escapes, makes it to a farmhouse where she meets up with another survivor on the run, Ben, and who together end meet a group of survivors holed up in the cellar. The big difference between this and the original is 1990's Barbara is no weakling, as she can fight and shoot a gun just as good as any man. Patricia Tallman showcases this with ease in her role as Barbara, and leaves us no doubt she is more than capable of taking care of herself. In the role of Ben, Tony Todd excels as the average man caught up in something he can't comprehend, and who must also deal with the shenanigans of one of the survivors in the cellar, Cooper, played by Tom Towles. You can fill the hatred and animosity between the two as they bicker and fight over anything from whether to stay up above or in the cellar or even over a damn TV, all while being surrounded by zombies trying to break in, thus proving the point man's hatred and petty differences will destroy us faster than any army of the dead! As an added plus, we get to see the zombies in color in all their gruesome best as done by Tom Savini, who ,speaking of, does an absolute amazing job as a first time director who was fortunate enough to have a bigger budget to work with. I simply love this version, and truth be told I've probably seen this more times than the original if nothing because of the fact my dad thinks this is the better version. While I myself wouldn't go that far, I would say 1990's version of "Night of the Living Dead" gives us a chance to see the classic story in a more polished manner, while still paying homage to the original. All of this leads up to an ending that shows, I think, man can be far crueler than any walking dead stiff. Watch and see for yourself!