Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary Edition
Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary Edition is a 1998 re-edit of the 1968 zombie movie Night of the Living Dead.
The body of a child killer is driven to a cemetery, where a funeral rite is read out by the Reverend John Hicks. When the gravediggers go to bury the body, however, it comes back to life and attacks them, before going after brother and sister Johnny and Barbra, who have come to pay respects to their deceased father. Johnny is killed, and Barbra flees to a house, where she and others attempt to fend off the reanimated dead.
Why It’s a Terrible Way To Celebrate The Film’s Birthday
- The entire existence of this re-edit is a cash grab. The 1968 original was accidentally released into the public domain, so its producers went back and shot enough new footage that they could copyright this re-edit and make some more money from it. Even though the 1990 remake (which isn't as good as the original, but is still far superior to this version) had already been made for this exact purpose.
- George A. Romero, the director of the original version, wasn't involved in this re-edit in any way, making it a massively disrespectful betrayal of his vision for the movie.
- In order to make the 1968 footage better match the newly-shot footage for this version, the producers cleaned up and re-graded it. Unfortunately, they did it in such a way that the end result looks cheap and shoddy, instead of grainy and atmospheric.
- The acting in the new scenes is laughably bad, especially from Scott Vladimir Licina, who also composed the new soundtrack.
- The atmospheric opening sequence of the original version is lost, and replaced by a bland title sequence with plain text on a black background, followed by the sequences showing the cemetery zombie being taken to his intended burial site.
- The new backstory for the cemetery zombie is both needlessly offensive (it's revealed that he was a child killer) and just plain stupid (he would have been cremated, if not for the parents of his last victim paying for his burial, just so that they could spit on his corpse first).
- While it was nice that they got back Bill Hinzman, who played him in the original version, it's blatantly obvious that he's 30 years older in the new footage.
- This version drops the original version's soundtrack in favor of a newly-composed soundtrack. One or two bits of music from this newer soundtrack are decent, but most of them are pretty repetitive, and it doesn't fit anywhere near as well as the original.
- The new ending contracts both Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. Instead of a worldwide outbreak that leads to the near-extinction of humanity, it's revealed that there have only been small, occasional zombie outbreaks in the year-long time skip that takes place before the final scene.
- The ending is also absolutely terrible in its own right. There's a new scene added after Barbra's death, where Reverend Hicks tries to exorcise the cemetery zombie by shouting random bits of scripture at him, and gets bitten before the zombie is killed. Then, after Ben's death, it jumps forward a year just so that Hicks - who we're told survived the bite because his wound was washed out with holy water - can deliver an insane rant that has nothing to do with anything else in the movie.
- While the DVD release of the 30th Anniversary Edition at least includes the original versions (something that even most post-1997 releases of Star Wars don't bother doing), it's inexplicably redubbed with the new soundtrack.
- The footage from the 1968 original is still as good as it ever was.
- Some of the new zombie scenes are quite atmospheric, even if they don't add much to the story.