Night of the Living Dead 3D (US - DVD R1)
Gabe wonders what public domain movie is next for 3D remake treatment.
I don’t think I need a plot synopsis, everyone knows what we’re getting into here, right? People see zombies, people run from zombies, people hide from zombies, zombies eat people, etc, etc.
Let’s skip the part where I complain about how blindingly unnecessary another Night of the Living Dead remake is. Let’s pretend I already whined in detail about the futility of mining the Romero zombie well. Let’s avoid the bit where I admit that Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake was actually pretty good, and that sometimes it’s possible for a remake to work out. Let’s go straight to the part where I tell you why this is a bad movie despite and in spite of its base’s credentials. Sound good?
I’ve got no problem with exploitation films, and anyone that says they do is either a liar, a prude, or completely unaware of the point of the subset. Night of the Living Dead 3D is an exploitation film only in the fact that it was made to turn a quick profit on a small budget. The filmmakers understand that the zombie genre is once again growing stagnant (it does every ten years or so), but rather than spending their time coming up with a new angle or twist, or simply eschewing the genre for one a little less tired (the public doesn’t seem to be sick of comic book characters just yet), these guys are offering us the chance to see the living dead in 3D.
I didn’t have any great need to see zombies in 3D, but I’m always up for a good gimmick, and I’m a sucker for grotesque gut-munching, even when the effects are cheap, so I was willing to give NOTLD3D a fair shot. I don’t think I need to assure anyone that the film itself is not a good one, and not one that even desperate zombiphiles will find themselves satisfied if watching the film with any positive expectations. If I were reading this review I’d be looking for two things: gore quota and 3D effectiveness.
In short, the gore is minimal and the 3D is unimpressive. More specifically the filmmakers have missed a great opportunity to go balls out with zombie themed violence. NOTLD3D is a low budget feature, with a very minimal theatrical run, that was put on this planet with the express intent of making money. There was no reason to bother with the MPAA or their ratings system, especially in this age of popular ‘unrated’ DVD releases, but for some reason these people went for a rather weak R-rating. Then they went and got all uppity about their ‘craft’, and decided not to push for every single overt 3D effect possible. What’s the point of a 3D zombie movie if we aren’t going to go out of our way for the 3D?
The cast is a bunch of unknowns, who are overall above average for the type, plus neo-grindhouse hero Sid Haig. Now in his late 60s (!) Haig has found himself back on the B-list thanks to his work with Rob Zombie and Quentin Tarantino. Even when he doesn’t throw his back into a role (as in this film) his presence is still massive and needed. Perhaps these professional actors tricked the filmmakers into thinking they were making a real movie.
Reviewing the video quality of an anaglyphic DVD release is kind of weird. Without the red/blue glasses on the image is a doubled-up mess, of course, so it’s quite hard to tell if the image is particularly detailed or whether it suffers from digital compression issues. With the glasses on the film doesn’t look much better. The problem with watching a movie through red and blue lenses is that everything ends up looking rather… purple.
I’m not sure if the stereoscopic process looks better through different eyes, but through mine it’s completely hit and miss. Background levels are mostly flat, and object shoved into camera are mostly blurry. The middle ground effects work pretty well, but I couldn’t tell you anything about the film’s colour pallet beyond what I think were some shades of brown and green. What I can say for sure is that I had a huge headache by the end of the first act.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is pretty cheap sounding, but the directional effects work better than the dimensional visuals. The music is exactly what one might expect from a low-budget cash-in, but it sounds pretty good coming through the speakers. LFE could use with a boost, and certain cheesy sound effects could do with a turn down, but overall volume levels are okay. The dialogue is all clear, but a little tiny and with a slight echo at times.
The extras start, as many extras do, with a commentary track, featuring director Jeff Broadstreet, screenwriter Robert Valding, and actor Sid Haig. Broadstreet and Valding (who were really hard for me to tell apart audibly) move a mile a minute, and fill every crevasse of track with behind the scenes information, actor back stories, and technical how-to. The also have some specific and high falutin' intellectual ideas behind some of their, let’s say, less inspired work. They aren’t particularly conceited, but it’s still surprising to hear in context to the not very good film. Haig doesn’t show up on the track until about an hour in, and doesn’t have a lot to add. He’s still good to hear from though, even when the other commentators talk about him like he isn’t in the room.
There are two rather weak behind the scenes featurettes, one of which is an EPK, the other covering the 3D filming process. The EPK is more informative than most EPK, but still pretty fluffy. The filmmakers are at least 100% honest with their intent to make a quick buck, so some respect is deserved. The 3D process featurette manages to inform, but runs very short.
The Q & A with the Filmmakers and Actor Sid Haig (filmed at the New Beverly Cinema) is low on video quality, but in good fun, and the fan boy audience actually manages to ask a few good questions between gob smacks. My favourite part is where Haig explains that the speed and contagious qualities of a zombie do not matter because zombies are fictional creations.
The half decent extras end with a blooper reel, a theatrical trailer, TV and radio spots, a 3D still gallery, and other LionsGate release trailers. I should note that the DVD comes with four pairs of 3D glasses, which is nice if you and three friends are willing to brave a splitting headache.
I’ll wait until the polarized stereoscopic process makes its way to home video before I bother with any more 3-dimensional DVD releases. The anaglyph process just doesn’t work well enough to bother making movies using it any more. Night of the Living Dead 3D isn’t in the same ballpark as the original or the Tom Savani remake. Even the awful John Russo 30th anniversary recut was a better movie than this one (mostly because it still had footage from the original film in it). Only the most rabid flesheating fanatics and Sid Haig’s fan club will get anything out of this bland remake.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Release Date: 9th October 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Director/Writer/Actor Commentary, Featurettes, Q & A, Trailers, Stills, 4 Pairs of 3D glasses
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jeff Broadstreet
Cast: Sid Haig, Brianna Brown, Johanna Black, Greg Travis, Cristin Michele
Length: 80 minutes
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