NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
   1. Film (1968). Image 10 Productions/Walter Reade-Continental. Dir George A. ROMERO, starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Keith Wayne. Screenplay John A. Russo. 96 mins, cut to 90 mins. B/w.
   This unrelenting and downbeat HORROR film, Romero's astonishing debut, tells of a horde of walking, cannibalistic corpses who lay siege to an isolated house. Their revival is explained by "space radiation" brought to Earth on an aborted rocket launch, but the absurdity of this barely detracts from the concentrated Gothic PARANOIA of the action, whose intensity won the film a cult following, especially from those who saw the savagery - and helplessness - of both ordinary people and zombies (whose bite infects the victim with zombiism) as symbolic of the horrors of the Vietnam War. NOTLD was independently financed and made during weekends by a small group based in Pittsburgh. The sequels, making up a Living Dead trilogy, are DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) and DAY OF THE DEAD (1985).
   2. Film (1990). 21stCentury/George Romero/Menahem Golan/Columbia. Dir Tom Savini, starring Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles, McKee Anderson, William Butler, Katie Finneran. Screenplay George ROMERO, based on the 1968 screenplay by Romero and Russo. 89 mins. Colour.
   It was a risky and possibly cynical undertaking to remake, in colour, the 1968 b/w classic. However, while the original remains the stronger, this was an accomplished feature-film debut for Savini, best known for his ghoulish special make-up on Romero's zombie movies. Generally the story-line of the original is followed closely, but there is a greater emphasis on the female character, Barbara (Tallman), who does not succumb so quickly to frozen fear as did her original. The 1968 film made a virtue of its ramshackle production values, with a cinemaverite style resulting from a shoestring budget; the greater smoothness of the remake makes it strangely less compelling - more obviously a movie.
   PN/JB

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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