(US - 1990)
Directed by Tom Savini. Written by George A. Romero. Cast: Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles, McKee Anderson, William Butler, Kate Finneran, Bill Moseley, Heather Mazur, Bill "Chilly Billy" Cardille. (R, 88 mins)
Generally dismissed by horror fans in the fall of 1990, the remake of George A. Romero's landmark 1968 zombie masterpiece NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was in and out of theaters and pretty much forgotten in a couple of weeks. It was also another flop for 21st Century Film Corporation, Menahem Golan's short-lived, post-Cannon company. 21st Century was hemorrhaging money so quickly that Golan only managed to get a few of its films in theaters solely under its banner--the 1989 Robert Englund take on PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, the Golan-directed MACK THE KNIFE, and the women-in-prison grinder CAGED FURY--before Columbia had to assume distribution responsibilities. Along with THE FORBIDDEN DANCE, a film Golan rushed into production to duke it out with Cannon's LAMBADA because he sincerely believed the world needed two competing lambada movies, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was one of the last to get a theatrical release before Columbia decided they'd seen enough and sent the rest of 21st Century's completed projects and other acquisitions straight to video or directly to cable. Made in part because Romero and his creative partners John A. Russo and Russell Streiner never properly secured a copyright for NOTLD '68 and weren't seeing any revenue or royalties from it thanks to its public domain status, NOTLD '90 was scripted by Romero himself, rewriting much of the original script he co-wrote with Russo. Directing duties were handed off to beloved makeup effects maestro Tom Savini, whose work was vital to the success of Romero films like MARTIN, DAWN OF THE DEAD, CREEPSHOW, and DAY OF THE DEAD, in addition to other '80s horror essentials like FRIDAY THE 13TH, MANIAC, and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. To date, NOTLD '90 is Savini's only feature-length directing effort, and he's been open over the years about his creative disagreements with 21st Century, the under-the-gun shooting schedule (filming began in April 1990 and it was in theaters six months later), and how the end result was a compromised one that forced him to make numerous cuts to secure an R rating. He also didn't get much backup from Romero, whose involvement ended with the script and a courtesy producer credit, as he was instead off prepping the Stephen King adaptation THE DARK HALF, which would begin shooting in the fall of 1990 but wouldn't be released until the spring of 1993 due to Orion's financial woes.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD opening
in Toledo, OH on 10/19/1990