“They’re us. We’re them and they’re us.” Barbara (Patricia Tallman) tries to make sense of the madness in Night of the Living Dead, a 90s remake of an icon entry in the horror genre. It’s a tough task to remake a film that changed the face of horror cinema. Who could be up to that task? Only the man who helped to evolve the zombie concept following the original. Yes, Mr. Tom Savini was the man behind recontextualizing for a new generation and he’s here to talk all about it!

Decades of Horror 1990s
Episode 09 – Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Taking the basic plot of the original, Night of the Living Dead constantly subverts expectations. Just when you think something from the original band is gonna happen, WHAM! A surprising zombie or character moment pops in to mix things up. The most noteworthy examples is definitely the new version of Barabara. Formerly a weak willed scream queen, this newer version develops from a scared girl into a defiant woman that carries along her fellow characters. Helped along by Ben (an early role for Tony Todd) and constantly pulled back by Harry Cooper (Tom Towles), this group feels more authentic. The shouting matches against each other are often just as brutal as the zombie kills themselves. It’s an underappreciated gem of a remake in a decade where many classics were horribly mutilated beyond recognition by far lesser filmmakers.

Along the ride with Thomas Mariani are Horror News Radio correspondent Dave Dreher, Decades of Horror: The Classic Era co-host Chad Hunt and goremaster special effects maestro himself Tom Savini! Despite some technical difficulties, Savini lays out many of the behind the scene turmoils that plagued him during production on Night of the Living Dead. A nasty divorce, production setbacks and backstabbing crew members all gave Tom Savini a massive headache on his first stab as a feature film director. He describes some of the massive sequences he storyboarded that couldn’t get shot, the lingering friendships he’s made with the cast and his eventual appreciation for the film so many years later. It’s an out-of-formula episode that’s not to be missed! You can find out more about Tom Savini’s upcoming projects and special effects school on his official website.

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One thought on “Night of the Living Dead (1990) w/ Tom Savini – Episode 09 – Decades of Horror 1990s

  1. Great episode guys, the addition of Tom Savini was the icing on the cake. Your discussion gave me the push to revisit NotLD ’90 again and stick with it, after a few recently aborted attempts. I first saw the film when it came out and it never stuck with me, I found it lacked something, so hearing about all the over zealous cuts made a lot of sense. On a re-watch, in hindsight, they are clear to see. That said, there are some fantastic things about this film. Savini did a great job directing for a first feature and most of the cast is amazing, they really capture the essence of panic and terror from the original film. On the down side, there are things that still troubled me though. The lighting is far too bright, at times it feels like a TV movie, especially in the outdoor night scenes, as you can see way too much, so there’s not enough atmosphere or shadow and also, William Butler’s performance just doesn’t sit right with me, his performance wasn’t bad but it kinda stuck out for some reason, like he was a man playing someone much younger. But given this is a remake of a genuine classic, I’m nitpicking. The film deserves far more credit than it got at the time and Savini could have made a brilliant director, if circumstance and fate hadn’t conspired against him. What a true great he his. A legend, an artist and a gentleman.

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