Night of the Living Dead: Re-Animation

Dimensional Dead productions

Directed by Jeff Broadstreet

Reviewed by Anthony C. Francis

From the director of the 2006 atrocity Night of the Living Dead 3-D comes this year’s Night of the Living Dead: Re- Animation, a prequel to that earlier film.

A mortician accidentally exposes corpses to a toxic waste and, as horror rules dictate, a zombie outbreak begins! That is the simple set up and that is about as creative as the filmmakers get with the screenplay.

Andrew Divoff, a really good character actor who normally plays villains, stars as Gerald Tovar Jr. the character played by Sid Haig in the first film. Once the dead become the undead, Gerald tries to keep the potential outbreak secret from his staff and acquaintances.

More trouble occurs when his younger brother Harold shows up. He is played by the great Jeffery Combs in a sniveling and fun performance. Harold feels he was shafted in their father’s will and wants his share of the family money.

There are quite a few zombie attacks and the film has somewhat of a good creepiness to it, as the action mostly takes place in the morgue. My complaint about the zombie sequences is the presence of CGI gore over old school blood and guts. The film wants to be a tip-of-the-hat/ satire of the great George A. Romero and Lucio Fulci zombie films so why didn’t they go with some “homemade” special effects? It would have worked much better and added something to the zombie scenes instead of making them play as perfunctory and by-the-book.

The human aspect of the film fares a little better than the zombies. Divoff is good as the lead and seems to be channeling John Waters in his costume design and facial grooming. Jeffery Combs is always fun to watch and has a good time with his role. Their scenes together are horribly written but the two pros give it their best and make a little something out of nothing. In a very distant way, it can be compared to the 1976 western flop The Missouri Breaks starring Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando. The film was appallingly written but the two actors improvised and made their scenes together enjoyable amidst the mess around them. I do not put Divoff nor Combs on the same acting level as Brando and Nicholson but you get the point.

In keeping with the tradition started by Romero, the film tries to blend social and political humor with horror and, in my opinion, comes up short; a big problem being the parody of Sara Palin. The character, named “Sister Sara” and bearing an obvious resemblance to Palin, is used for the political humor and is on television news programs saying silly things about the government’s involvement in the outbreak. Night of the Living Dead 3-D was supposedly set in the sixties and this film takes place one day before the first one. How is there a modern television news program modeled after CNN, let alone a Palin-esque parody if this is to be the sixties? This is a major problem when the filmmakers don’t even care to make the timeline correct and assume the audience won’t notice or care. This is also rather insulting!

The film moves at a slow place and punctuates our boredom with the zombie attacks, such as they are. It does its best to balance satire and horror and fails at both. Although I enjoyed seeing the two leads make lemons out of lemonade with their scenes together, the film suffers from an utter lack of original ideas. Nearly every moment is borrowed, or in this case ripped off, from better films.

Directed and written by Jeff Broadstreet, who wrote and directed the putrid first film, Night of the Living Dead: Re- Animation is a cheap chance to cash in on the title of Romero’s classic. It is a shame that Romero lost the title rights to his 1968 groundbreaker. Now any schlep with a camera can attach the name Night of the Living Dead to a piece of crap to try and generate a few bucks. This director has done that… twice.

1 out of 5 stars

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