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Night Of The Living Dead:
30th Anniversery Limited Edition

review by Anthony D.

 

Running Time: 111/96 Minutes

Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Russell Streiner, Karl Hardman, Keith Wayne, Marilyn Eastman.

Written by John A. Russo

Directed by George A. Romero

Retail Price: 34.98

Studio: Anchor Bay

Features: Commentary by John A. Russo, S. William Hinzman, Russell Steiner and Bob Michelucci., Anniversary edition with new scenes and new score, Behind the scenes featurette, still gallery, scene from S. William Hinzman film "Flesheater" (1994), Music video "Dance of the Dead," 30th Anniversary Theatrical Trailer.

Disc Specs: Full Screen, Black and White, Dolby Digital 5.1 English

No longer opening in a stark cemetery setting, this 30th Anniversary Edition now takes its sweet old time to get us up to the now classic, "They're coming to get you, Barbara." uttered jokingly and setting the tone for George A. Romero's shockingly original, independently made classic, macabre tale of zombies on a rampage. What follows instead is an intense hour and a half of bloated added footage as the living seek refuge from the living dead in an abandoned farm house - - strangers trapped together by fate must bond together to survive the onslaught of rising corpses set on eating the flesh of the living.

Barbara (Judith O'Dea) and her brother Johnny are visiting the graves of their relatives one Autumn day, when a man approaches them with a disjointed gait. Johnny jokingly declares that the man is coming to get Barbara, but instead finds himself being attacked and killed by this stranger. Barely escaping the same fate, Barbara hurriedly drives away from the cemetery, and finds herself at a desolate, seemingly abandoned farmhouse. The house holds surprises of its own for our terror-possessed heroine: a black man with a take-charge attitude, a decaying corpse in the upstairs hallway as well as five other people hiding out in the basement. As darkness falls, hordes of flesh-eating zombies attack the farmhouse - -including the now living-dead Johnny! Thus the stage is set for one of the most horrifying films of any age. George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead," although shot on a shoestring budget, still manages to pack quite a wallop after thirty years and countless imitations. Filmed in the remotest rural areas surrounding the city of Pittsburgh, and using local unknown talents, Romero's black and white film has the look and feel of a documentary while retaining its chilling aspects. Taking his cues from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock and his film of "The Birds," Romero successfully creates a world of shockingly random violence and offers no explanation for the events surrounding the rise of the dead, but rather dwells on the effect upon these seven stranded strangers. At times, Romero dramatically "borrows" from "The Birds" with shots of zombies attacking the secluded house much as the birds attacked the seaside house in Hitchcock's 1963 genre masterpiece.

But wait! Now there's more...why there's more, I have yet to discern, but there is more newly shot footage, including a useless new opening and closing segment and a horrendous new musical score. So this is a 30th Anniversary Edition - -hmm, it reminds of a man who on his wedding anniversary would give his wife an unneeded facelift courtesy of Doctor Frankenstein! She is beautiful as she is, why tamper with her graceful beauty by subjecting her to the "genius" of this particular doctor...

 

Fuggedabbuddit!! That the newly films scenes look pristine, while the old footage looks darker and more sinister only makes me hate the 30th Anniversary Edition even more. That the entire picture doesn't live up to the clarity of the newly shot - -completely useless - - scenes distracts from whatever pleasure one might have gleaned from this revamp.

Well, alright we have a new musical score presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound that makes use of all the speakers; unfortunately the score bites the big one. Scott Vladimir Licina has written a Phillip Glass knock-off that even Glass would have disowned. While mastering the score, though, the engineers also decided to boost, if not re-record all of the sound effects allowing the hammering of nails to dwell in a phantom zone instead of being aurally faithful to the camera positioning. A total screw-up, in other words.

For the viewer who has stuck with this disc this long, there is a plethora of Features to be explored: Commentary by John A. Russo, S. William Hinzman, Russell Steiner and Bob Michelucci. A behind the scenes featurette, a still gallery, a short scene from S. William Hinzman film "Flesheater" (1994), yes, and a Music video "Dance of the Dead." A 30th Anniversary Theatrical Trailer rounds out the package. Of special interest, though is the option of watching the original film, BUT with the newly composed dissonance labeled a "score." Disgusted, I gave up...

Whatever tempted John A. Russo to tamper with Romero's original thriller is beyond contempt!! Whatever possesses Anchor Bay to pawn this off on unsuspecting buyer is also beyond contempt! The less said about this release, the better. Buyer beware, this is an unadulterated attempt to glut the market with a product that should have remained a stupid idea, and to borrow from Shakespeare, Anchor Bay's presentation of "Night of the Living Dead" is "A tale of sound of fury, told by an idiot, signifying nothing."

(1/5, NOT included in final score)

(2/5)

(3/5)

(2/5)

(1/5, NOT an average)

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