Thursday, September 24, 2015

Movie Review: Night of the Living Dead 3D (2006)

How can things go so wrong? I actually had some pretty high hopes for Night of the Living Dead 3D - the original is of course a seminal and wonderful film, and the remake from 1990 is equally great. So I picked up NOTLD3D at my last convention for a pretty cheap price (which I am now very grateful for) thinking that it couldn't be all that bad. I mean, it has Sid Haig in it, right? Welp, while Sid rocks the house like he always does, he's pretty much the only good thing about the movie.

NOTLD3D tells the classic story from the original film, and it has elements of both a reimagining and a meta-type horror film. Barb and her brother Johnny arrive at the Shady Rest Cemetery to attend their aunt's funeral, but are instead attacked by the living dead. Johnny escapes, and Barb is saved by a man named Ben, who takes her to the nearby house of some friends. The group holes up for night as they fight off the group of flesh-eating zombies.

I'm not the biggest fan of 3D in the first place. Sure, it's cool to look at for a while, but the novelty usually wears off pretty quickly once my eyes start to hurt and I can't see things as well. But, the DVD came with the glasses and I figured that if this was how the movie was supposed to be seen, then that's how I should see it. There are a couple of cool shots here and there that tripped me out, but for the most part, the 3D is unnecessary, like it always seems to be for me. I just can't get into it. I've tried and it hasn't worked. So there's that, unfortunately.

When talking about the story, again I have to ask - how could they have gotten things so wrong? The story is a simple one that has worked two times before and really doesn't need all that much tweaking. And for the most part, at least in the beginning, they don't really make any drastic changes for this version. Those come later when the explanation for the dead returning to life is completely different, and completely doesn't make any sense. Still, I really liked the not-subtle-at-all homages to the first film, which begin right off the bat when the original is playing on a television and the title credit turns into the title credit for this movie. If you're expecting to hear Johnny's famous line, it comes in the form of a text. Later on, when Barb gets to the farmhouse and starts talking about the dead coming back to life, she walks in on the family actually watching Night of the Living Dead on television. Of course, there's no acknowledgement about the fact that the characters have the same names as the people in the movie or that they are in the exact same situation, but I really didn't expect that anyway.

What I did expect, though, was at least some decent acting. Everyone in this movie just seems so uninterested and bored in what they are doing. While hearing a bunch of people shrieking and cursing during stressful scenes is admittedly not a lot of fun either, I see now that it is equally bad to have people acting way too calmly. How many times do these stoners just languish around while there is something serious going on? Or have perfectly normal and calm conversations at a time when nobody, least of all the audience, gives a fuck? When Karen goes missing, her father is barely able to puke out enough emotion for us to believe it. One of the greatest characters in horror ever, Ben, has been replaced by a motorcycle-riding loser who isn't nearly as authoritative or brave as Duane Jones or Tony Todd made him. On the flip side, Barb is more of a heroine, but not by much, and there is nothing interesting or endearing about her character. I really couldn't believe how wooden and boring everyone was, and their poor acting completely ruined any scene that had any potential to be exciting or scary.

Sid Haig is the biggest selling point of the movie, and while I enjoyed him like always, he's not a good enough reason to put yourself through this movie. He's the crazy mortician who has a problem with burning up dead bodies in his daddy's crematorium, so he's just been storing them for the past two years. Somehow, that translates into said bodies reanimating themselves. Don't ask me how. The makeup effects are okay, but I really hated the cartoony or comic booky look of the zombies. Tovar's father was the worst, all green and way too fleshy. There are not nearly enough good zombie kills, and I was severely disappointed in the gore factor for this movie. Maybe the best and stupidest part is when Barb lights Tovar's father on fire. Just because fire is cool.

With only ten minutes or so left to go on this movie, my scratched DVD started skipping around a bit so I didn't get to see all of the climax, but I got most of it. It wasn't any better than the rest of the movie. It's almost unwatchable and more than forgettable, not nearly on par with the original or the remake.


  1. Sid Haig and zombies. Its been a few years since I watched this one. I liked it.

  2. Yeah, it's unfortunate that the NOTLD original has fallen into the public domain because now everyone and their brother can make a half hearted sequel or remake. -Cory

    1. And that's what I'm saying - it's not that hard of a movie to remake if you want to. It's a simple story, and you just need some good actors playing likable characters, and of course some well-done zombies. Savini did it, and he did it great!