Original vs Remake:Night of The Living Dead

Good afternoon everyone.

Today I decided to try something new, and instead of reviewing a game, doing a weapon guide or posting about news in gaming, we're heading into film.

Specifically, the zombie films.

What has been the iconic threat to the living since 1968, zombie films have come and gone through the years, some that are forgotten by time and some that stick with us and are remembered even to this day.

If you are a film buff such as myself there a few iconic zombie movies that come into mind, but the one zombie film that still sticks to me and is the first zombie movie that comes to mind is of course George A Romero's classic

                                    Night of The Living Dead

The zombie film that wrote all the rules to the zombie movies and inspired many other zombie moves to come.

Night of The Living Dead is a classic horror film, ask any film buff that watches horror films religiously and you ask them what's the classic of classic zombie films, they will tell you "Night of The Living Dead"

This film all though low in budget, was rich in horror and let the audience sit in terror as they saw the world toss into chaos as the dead came to feast on the flesh of the living.

Of course what many people will also bring up is the 1990 remake, directed by famed makeup artist Tom Savini.

Many people such as myself have mixed feelings about the film, it's a good zombie survival film in it's own right but some think it is an unneeded remake. Film critics such as Siskel & Ebert thought that there was no point to making the film due to the remake keeping the spirit of the original so strong, you could watch the original and see the same experience.

Today I am going to put these two films together, which film has something to offer that the other does not?

Let's begin.

The original Night of The Living Dead was released on October 1st, 1968. Directed by new comer George A. Romero.

A low budget independent horror film with only 114 thousand dollars for a budget, it was praised greatly and in turn earned 12 million dollars domestically and 18 million internationally.

The story was pretty simple, the dead are rising from the grave by an unknown force, no one knows why but there is no time to understand the cause of this ghastly event, the main goal is to survive. Barbra, the main character, runs from her first encounter with the un-dead, and finds a farm house to hide herself away from a "man" that kills Johnny and tries to kill her, until a man named Ben comes to help her survive through the night and discover why these people are acting like this.

The film was directed in black and white, that combined many old horror film aspects to create a slow yet terrifying movie. The dark shadows made by the trees and the thin yet full forests of trees terrify you, letting your imagination fill in the zombies that might be creeping through the trees quietly, ready to attack the characters at any time. The zombies themselves are not as grotesque or aesthetically disturbing as the zombies of today, but that's an aspect of the film that enhances the horror.

The zombies are us, "We're them and they're us." the zombies look like normal people, yet they move very slowly and stare at you with cold dead eyes, in turn terrifying you and the survivors even more.

One of the main characters, Ben, tells the story of how he first encountered the un-dead and it's terrifying. The mental image of 50 or 60 of the zombies staring at you not making a sound, surrounding you and no one else around to help is horrifying.

The zombies feel very threatening even with the lack of gore and blood on their faces and body. They may look like an easy kill but if one grabs you, you know it will be tough to break free.

The darkness surrounding the house allows for the viewer to imagine how many zombies may be outside, coming slowly into the light to reveal a ghoul staring you down with the intention to feast upon your flesh.

The characters themselves are hit and miss.

Barbra, played by Judith O'Dea, is a timid and easily intimidated character, she doesn't say anything or do anything through the majority of the film.

Every other character you know and remember because they're actually talking and doing stuff, Barbra might as well be a zombie herself.

Ben, played by Duane Jones, is probably the most memorable out of the group, he plays the stereo typical "tough guy" but he is also very brave and strong, he wants to help everyone survive and get through this, even if that means he needs to take on the un-dead himself to help someone escape to live another day.

Now for the remake


The remake, directed by famous make up artist Tom Savini, was written by the original screen writers, John A. Russo and George A. Romero. The original camera and sound crew to work on the film. However Russo and Romero actually change their original screenplay this time around, changing the way events play out and lines of dialogue.

The film is instead shot in color and has new actors to play the roles.

Patricia Tallman to play as Barbra.

and Tony Todd as Ben.
Who most of you may remember as Candyman from the film series Candyman.

The film keeps true to the spirit of the original film, almost shot by shot and word for word, almost everything happens in the same way and in the same amount of time, these events do happen in different ways and the characters persona is actually changed.

For the worse, except for Barbra.

Ben in the original wanted to keep everyone safe and get out alive if that meant taking a very dangerous risk, in the remake, Ben doesn't take that chance, even when Barbra says the one thing that takes away the threat and horror away from the zombies.

Ben however does tell the story of how he escaped from the city and  how he first encountered the un-dead is also updated and is actually more terrifying. The mental image of the city he describes with the zombies filling the streets like bugs is horrifying.

This time when Ben meets Barbra, Ben encourages  Barbra to fight through this, Barbra ends up becoming the more intelligent survivor and says the one line that takes away a good aspect of the horror element in the film.

"They're so slow....we could just walk past them we wouldn't even have to run. We have the guns, if we're careful we can make it."

That one line takes away a good degree of the horror aspect of the film, no longer are the zombies the menace of the film, they're a small obstacle that all the characters can face if they are indeed careful. It makes the rest of the movie pointless, the main character just took away the threat of the zombies, so it's pointless to keep the film going about how the zombies are closing in, when all you need to do is walk past them.

The film would be over though, no need to worry about the zombies or the concern for finding a way to escape, they can take out the zombies easily and escape.

Mr.Cooper  in the film is much different from the original, in the original, Mr.Cooper was scared and made some decisions he thought would be best to protect him and his wife and daughter, but he knew that the thing to do was to help and helped Ben and the others try to escape, in the remake, Mr.Cooper is the definition of jerk, he condescends Ben, Barbra and everyone else and even says one of the most ridiculous lines in the film.

"They're just a bunch of yo-yos!!! YA BUNCH OF YO-YOS!!!"

He refuses to help everyone to survive through the night and constantly force Ben and everyone else not to trust him. He even hits his wife around for not obeying his commands. JERK!!!

Ben and Mr.Cooper in the film bicker and fight so much they destroy a television set that could have informed them on what was going on everywhere else, but instead, Cooper takes the TV, doesn't tell anyone what he's doing and walks in front of the door to the cellar, where Mr.Cooper with his wife and kids and this young couple were staying.

Ben of course tries to stop him as he gets the impression that Cooper was taking the TV for himself and this results in a struggle, resulting in the TV falling down the stairs being destroyed. They bicker too much in light of the fact that the dead are right outside the door, ready to break in.

However Barbra's character changes for the good, instead of being a timid woman, she physically morphs into a strong and independent female warrior, actually killing zombies with a few guns and is not frightened of the un-dead. In fact, she's the only one in the film that makes sense and is the one with the right idea and plan.

The zombies this time around have been updated with a much more grotesque and bloody design, they now growl and snarl at the humans as well as having grey blank eyes.

Instead of the background in the film being blacked out like in the original, it is instead filled with bushes and trees, the zombies coming slowly through the forest is horrifying, in fact there are more zombies surrounding the house than in the original(of course that could be due to a bigger budget) but the threat is empty because of course "We can just walk past them."

I do like the new music for the film though, it screams 90s horror film and something you would watch in the Halloween spirit.

In fact most of the horror element comes from the music and the scene of the undead slowly walking ever closer to the house.

Not from the undead themselves.

The Verdict

At first I was torn about the films, but after watching both I can easily say that the original Night of The Living Dead is the winner.

The remake is good in it's own aspects, but when you compare the original to the remake, the original is the one that wins.

It has the better horror element and is the more impressive film with what was going against it. Low budget, inexperienced actors and yet it's the classic zombie film that earned more then it was given and is praised by horror film buffs around the world.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed.

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