‘Night of the Animated Dead’ Blu-Ray Review

Night of the Animated Dead

George Romero’s 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead is just that, a classic. What many people do not realize is that it is also a public domain film. So that means anybody can use it, remake it, or do pretty much anything with it that they wish. In today’s reboot society, that can make it a pretty lucrative target for a new edition. Special Effects wizard Tom Savini did do an “official” remake in 1990 that was pretty well-received, but most remakes fall pretty short.

In this new animated release, it’s kind of hard to give it a fair shake in a way. The reason for this is that it really doesn’t bring much new to the table. Do you remember when Gus Van Sant remade Psycho in 1998?

On paper, that idea sounds good, but in reality, he brought a shot-for-shot remake of an Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece. He copied camera angles, scoring, scripting, everything. It had a few minor changes but nothing that really improved upon the original. And it’s much the same with this release.

The Original

Siblings Barbra and Johnny visit their father’s grave when a man attacks and kills Johnny and then comes for Barbra. She flees in the car to a local farmhouse where she meets Ben, and he helps her barricade the house.

They discover a family has already barricaded themselves in the basement, and they all stay in the house. And they discover the dead have come back to life to feed on the living, and they have to figure out how to survive and even escape. But, as we have come to see as a familiar theme in zombie stories – the zombies may not be as significant a threat as the other people trying to survive.

An Animated Shot-By-Shot Remake

I had high hopes with this release that director John Axinn would come with something new but what happened is that we got an animated shot-by-shot remake of the original. The characters, stories, settings are all the same. The only difference I saw was that there is one scene that the original film reveals through a story, but in this version, we see a cut to that story. 

The 1960’s Night of the Living Dead was meant to be a political and social commentary. The role of Ben was a black man, which caused some controversy with the lead and hero being the black man. And George Romero has always tried to reflect ideas of the time with his films. 

Night of the Living Dead reflected fears of racial integration and space exploration (the suspected cause of a space probe returning to Earth). That doesn’t come through in this new version.

Overall… Not All Is Bad with Night of the Living Dead

However, not all is bad. There are many people that will never see Night of the Living Dead for one reason: it’s in black and white. They have no patience for films that just look old and associate them with being boring. This film does a lot to remove that. The animation factor alone will draw several people that simply prefer animation.

The voice cast (Josh Duhamel, Dule Hill, Jimmy Simpson) are all quite good. They do a great job of bringing a realism to their roles.

The colors are vibrant and the gore/violence is actually a bit more explicit than the original. Animation just has that ability where 1960’s special effects didn’t. The quality is quite high. The picture is 1080p and has a crisp, clean and pristine look. The colors definitely pop, which does showcase the nice animation work.

Night of the Animated Dead has a nice robust DTS 5.1 track. Dialogue music and design sound comes with a great surround sound.

Wondering about extras? They’re light here but do include the Making of: Animating the Dead.

While Night of the Animated Dead doesn’t really go into any new territory, it does still present the original story in a way that younger people might prefer. If you know some younger people that just simply cannot watch black and white or prefer animation this might be the perfect way to introduce them to this genre.

Night of the Animated Dead is available today from Warner Bros Home Entertainment.

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