Night of the Living Dead: ReAnimated (1968) (DVD)

Since George A. Romero’s seminal 1968 independent horror film was released without a copyright, the horror classic we know as “Night of the Living Dead” has been in the public domain for literal decades. Since then it’s been remade, re-released, re-dubbed, re-edited, restored, colored, chopped, extended, spoofed, satirized, animated, prequelized, sequelized, novelized, sampled, and so on ad nauseum. Much to Romero’s chagrin, “Night of the Living Dead” has been the Mr. Potato Head of the horror world upon which independent film directors can switch and mix without worry of a lawsuit.

Sometimes we end up with the 30th anniversary where horrible indie filmmakers attach their own filmed scenes to add extrapolation to the brilliant ambiguous plot twists in the original, and sometimes we end up with “Reanimated” a movie that’s not so much about continuing the exploitation of a horror masterpiece but allowing a forum for visual and graphic artists to paint on with their own visions and wild interpretations of Romero’s zombie classic.

For anyone willing to see “Night” for the one millionth time, director Mike Schneider composes a very entertaining and surprising little homage to the zombie king’s masterpiece. Thankfully for those weary of this artistic interpretation acting as an intrusive element, Romero’s film is still wildly compelling and haunting on its own, the only difference is we’re allowed a look in to the horror fan’s minds through their own visions of the film that vary in degrees that often range from the absurd to the utterly baffling.

Like most artistic collaborations, the results here from its artists are not always very good, but we’re allowed a different view in to this important horror film while also re-living one of the most important cinematic masterpieces ever made. With a rousing introduction from Count Gor De Vol, the team is assembled to piece their own versions of key scenes to this horror movie opening the doors to some pretty creative sneak peeks in to the film. One instance offers us a look at a stark line drawing of the scenery looking out on to the graveyard, while another artist depicts the shadows of the gravestones in the shapes of human beings.

The real dynamic material though occurs when Barbara meets Ben in the middle of the zombie carnage to which we’re given a wide spread view of the whole racial dynamic and the contrasts of shadows and character interplay. Ben is at times depicted by artists as something of a ghoul, while others paint him as god-like and valiant. In some instances he’s slim and slender, and in others he’s square jawed and muscle bound. Barbara is almost zombie-like in this interpretation, wandering around and blending in the background as Ben is pushed in to the foreground quite often through the paintings and animation, there’s even a wonderful ode to the RPG games where we see Ben and Barbara talking through a Zelda-like dialogue screen with options and 8-bit paragraphs.

Sometimes there are legos, sometimes hand puppets, other times just rotoscoping, but you’d be hard pressed not to find some form of stimulation and amusement from the work of art turned in to modern art through the eyes of digital and graphic artists who form their own view of what happens during this film. There are even moments where the characters are discussing the hordes of zombies to where one artist pans out on to a massive sweeping scene of computer generated zombies creeping from the woods.

The impact of Romero’s film is still felt, but it’s even more emphasized by the drastic imaginings of various talented artists who give new blood and a fresh eye to the immortal classic from George A. Romero. For anyone interested in a second (or third or thirtieth, if you’re a horror buff) look at the most important horror film in history that dares to be different, creative, and at times brilliant, “Night of the Living Dead ReAnimated” is a worthwhile venture with a vast array of artists lending a new dimension to Romero’s masterpiece while also paying considerable tribute to the man who unwittingly gave the perfect palette to a new generation of artists and filmmakers to work with.