The idea of remaking the classic "Night of the Living Dead" would certainly seem like sacrilege to many fans. Yet the resulting movie stands on its own merits as a taut if slightly sterile horror film.
Many of the original crew was re-assembled for this 1990 version. The reasons for the remake are explored on the DVD release, but there was an overall feeling that the new bigger budget ($4.2m) could help achieve what some saw as missing the first time around. Director George Romero updated the script but left the directorial duties to special effects maestro Tom Savini.
The sequence of events and characters remain quite similar, with one notable difference. 'Barbara' (Patricia Tallman) has been transformed from a screaming, helpless female into a resourceful and strong woman more akin to Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" movies. As before, she seeks refuge in a remote farmhouse from the walking dead that are stalking the countryside.
Pretty soon another fleeing person, Ben (Tony Todd) joins her. Amusingly, the first shot we see of him is with a hook in his hand. Two years later, he would play the hook-wielding "Candyman". But for now, he's just Ben, and out of gas too. The two of them along with some local people hole up in a house that's rapidly being surrounded by growing hordes of the living dead.
Zombie films always suffer in critical terms. But what this boils down to, just as the original does, is a classic siege situation. Tempers fray, fear builds, the final stand-off looms and this movie exploits the form well, with some real tension building among some fine shock moments. Some purists will not condone this remake, but there's little denying that this is a better horror film than most made in the 1990s.