Night Of The Living Dead: Re-animation Netflix | Google Play | YouTube DVD | Blu-ray Directed by Jeff Broadstreet Starring Andrew Divoff, Jeffrey Combs, Sarah Lieving, Robin Sydney, Adam Chambers, Denice Duff Screen Media Films Originally Released: October 16, 2012
Night of the Living Dead: Re-animation is a prequel to a remake. You read that correctly, it is a prequel to a remake of Night of the Living Dead. And the end result is as tacky as it sounds. In fact, it’s so tacky, it’s terrible. Even Russo’s Return of the Living Dead series had some nice slapstick humor to refresh the load; in Re-animation, we’re stuck with a movie that amounts to nothing more than a stale fart. Though coupled with a few good performances and some reasonable CGI zombie effects, the plot is deficient in much substance and the social commentary is laughably bad.
Set before the events of 2007’s Night of the Living Dead 3D, Re-animation aims to give the back story of how it all began. Despite the goal, the movie does very little to accomplish this, being more of a standalone weird zombie flick than just has the classic movie titled tacked on. The tale begins in a mortuary, where corpses become reanimated into zombies. And that’s about as much of the plot I want to describe, simply because this movie has wasted enough of my time as it is.
Andrew Divoff takes on the most important role of Gerald Tovar, Jr. His make-up, appearance, and demeanor remind me very much of a cross between Josh Brolin and Anthony Perkins; in many ways, it’s remarkable. He pulls off the role very well, and is fairly intriguing – he is perhaps the only stand-out performance in the entire film, with a convincing edge that pays off at the end of the film.
Jeffrey Combs, famous for his roles in the Star Trek TV franchise (notable Weyoun from DS9, and Shran from Enterprise), makes an appearance as Harold Tovar. It’s strange seeing him sans make-up; but his voice is the same old voice. His role in this movie is casual, and worth a glance; but all in all is not one of his best roles. His character is dull, greedy, self-centered, and fairly useless – and additionally poorly written. He has nothing really to go with for the role, and sided with the direction skills of a cow’s testicle, becomes sadly a totally unnecessary character. Jeffrey Combs is a damn good performer, and deserves better treatment than this – somebody give him a good part to play for fuck’s sake.
But Divoff is the only performer worth a glance in this movie, I’m sad to say. Every other performance is simply not up to par, poorly directed, or ineffective. The goth chick, DyeAnne (Robin Sydney), is so fucking tacky that I groaned every time she showed her make-up plastered noggin – apparently all goths like to fuck dead people if you believe this movie. Sarah Lieving as Cristie Forrest is also lacking, with not much to contribute to the story at all.
Some political commentary creeps into the mix as the movie progresses, but unlike the Romero classics is not shrewd whatsoever. A televised version of Fox News, called “Fixd News” shows up, with a send-up of Sarah Palin named “Sister Sara” (Denice Duff) becomes a part of the movie, with much dialogue about how immoral the “Tea Baggers” (Tea Party) are. Essentially, the great deal of this element is designed to set up conservatives as “crackpots”, and I’m sure those who lean that way in the political sense are not going to be grateful for the sentiment.
Traditionally I find myself somewhat post-political, and comprehend that much of modern politics is nothing more than dressed-up organized crime. And while to some degree, I can appreciate some critical sentiment of partisanship as well as some good political invective, within the confines of a "Romero Dead" movie (even an unofficial one), the explicit nature of this political commentary is incredibly misplaced and has no bearing on the plot overall. Romero’s movies were zombie stories that were built on top of subtextual social commentary – and the political approach in this movie fails immensely.
The film distances itself completely from the original Dead flick, when there are a lot of in-joke references to Romero’s films. There are a couple of lines that directly make fun of the difference concerning the original undead and the Zack Snyder sprinters from the Dawn of the Dead remake – explicitly naming the creatures in this movie as “Romero Zombies”. It’s an inconsistency that some casual fans could be willing to overlook, but for the hardcore Zombie geeks who hold Romero’s work as reverent will find it immediately unworthy of taking a place among the Dead Series. That being said though, the other Living Dead movies (Russo’s line of movies, such as Return of the Living Dead) actually embraced the concept of the original movie having a place in the mythos of the universe, being referred to as a film adaptation of actual proceedings… so perhaps the filmmakers are working with that angle.
As the movie progresses, it became clearer to me that the film really should have been about Divoff’s character falling deeper into madness. There could have been some brilliant opportunities for abstract approaches to the plot, and some moral ambiguity that would have provided weight to the overall movie, AND to the original Romero/Russo flicks. Instead, the unambiguous staleness permeates through this film, and while it is not completely a turd, is still a disheartening fart of a flick.
The effects on the other hand are fairly good. The zombie make-up is in fact spectacular, with much attention to detail. There’s a good dose of gore for the horror fans that like a bit of splatter, but it’s mainly CGI and noticeably so at times. Despite this, the effects and make-up are to a certain extent moderate for a low-budget flick, and I’ve seen worse in some B-grade horror flicks in the past, so the end result is not totally unreasonable.
But in spite of the gore and the effects, Night of the Living Dead: Reanimation is utterly disastrous. It lacks the subtleties of social commentary that good quality horror flicks have, the plot is inconsistent both in and of itself and in comparison to the other Romero/Russo Dead series, and the performances are sadly lacking. Though some horror fans will find the effects, and Divoff’s performance, worth the view, most will be highly disappointed with this movie. It’s so dull; I ended up glaring like grumpy cat after viewing the flick.
Only consider this one if you’re a hardcore zombie fan. If not, shun it at all costs.