Night Of The Living Dead – (Blu-ray Review)

Now available on Blu-ray!

“They’re coming to get you Barbara!” For the Halloween season, Twilight Time has released a Blu-ray version of Tom Savini’s Night Of The Living Dead.

There have been several examples of remakes, re-imaginings and re-boots that do not work, because they take a beloved classic film and try to recreate or enhance it with new actors, camera angles, special effects and a few twists and turns, often losing sight of what made the film work in the first place. But every so often there are those few that work and work well. Like taking a beautiful piece of art, and repainting it. The skills are there, but the copy cannot capture the essence of the original masterpiece.

 But, there are some remakes that pay tribute to the original artistry, while bringing a fresh new take on the subject. They stand as great films on their own without tarnishing the original and many film fans proudly display them side by side in their home media cabinets. Some of these include, Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead, Marcus Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and J.J. Abrams Star Trek.

The Night Of The Living Dead is an original classic. It is one of those seminal experiences that many hold dear. For me, it was on a Halloween evening on PBS. After the tricks and treats were done, I settled in and for the first time watched in horror as a group of diverse survivors was thrust together as hordes of black-and-white ghouls attacked.



The original George Romero shocker had become a fixture on television due to a lapse in the copyright into the public domain, and literally dozens of releases found there way into the home video boom of the 80’s. Romero had also revisited his world “where the dead walk” twice more with Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead. In an effort to regain control of their original property, the original filmmakers decided to revisit the night with new makeup effects and in color. In 1990, Tom Savini was given the task of bringing the classic tale to a new generation.

The film is similar in set-up, as Barbara, here played by Patricia Tallman and her brother Johnny, played by fan-favorite Bill Moseley, visit a local Pennsylvania cemetery to pay respects to the dearly departed.



But the film immediately takes some fun turns and twists, as the undead begin to appear. There is the farmhouse and the characters we all know from the original, but with a cast of talented actors breathing new life into them, they explore new ground. Tony Todd steps into the role of Ben, and delivers a fantastically complex screen performance.


Savini’s take on the material is masterful. Coming from a successful career of groundbreaking effects, there is a lot of slight of hand in play, with Savini manipulating the viewer like any great magician. It is a shame that Tom’s freshman film debut did not do better at the box office. The film showcases glimpses of a great storyteller. The Director’s commentary gives viewers a fantastic opportunity to live through the production. With a casual conversational style, Savini draws back the curtain and allows a peek inside the decisions and techniques behind the chiller.



The effects, provided by Everett Burrell and John Vulich, are powerful, visceral and ghoulish. The zombies are realistic and unnerving, as they relentlessly shamble toward the farmhouse and lay siege to the trapped victims inside.  There is a pervasive tone of dread, and even though you think you know what will happen to the hapless band of survivors, there are plenty of surprises. I don’t want to spoil the end, but it packs an emotional punch that is powerful.

Twilight Time continues to excel at limited edition releases. The transfer is fantastic, with rich blacks and colors. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is effective. Music and effects are well balanced and capture the perfect atmosphere of tension and dread. Special features include a trailer, Paul McCullough’s isolated musical score and a track featuring Savini’s commentary.

Night Of The Living Dead is a must have for any fan of horror. The Blu-ray is limited to 3,000 copies and I am sure this one will go fast.


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