Night of the Living Dead 1968 vs. Night of the Living Dead 1990

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The year was 1968. Zombies then were a thing created mostly by voodoo, though there were occasions where the undead where created by atomic misuse or alien intervention. Then Night of the Living Dead came out and everything changed. Before Night of the Living Dead zombies were usually more of a weapon to be wielded by a film’s true antagonist. Not that there weren’t films where zombies were the main antagonists, it was just a rare thing was all. The norm was for the zombie or zombies to be the slaves of aliens, a whacko, or a scientist of some sort. Suddenly the zombies were not just the star of the show but brutal, undead monsters intent on devouring their way through human kind and either killing them or turning them into more zombies. Zombies could now be something more than just monsters but representatives of social issues and the changing of society. For decades the film remained one of the best zombie flicks out there and something many zombie films aspired to be. Then 1990 rolled around and the movie was remade by Tom Savini who took Romero’s original to new heights while keeping the same basic structure. The remake was extremely similar in most respects, but new technology and far less censorship allowed Savini to do more than Romero could back in 1968. Let’s take a look at both movies shall we:

Night of the Living Dead 1968: When Barbara and Johnny go to visit the grave of a dead relative Johnny ends up dead and Barbara ends up on the run from the living dead. She finds a nearby farmhouse where she meets Ben who himself has been trying to escape the reanimating zombies. Ben begins boarding up the house to protect them from the undead while Barbara screams and proves herself to be beyond useless. The noise brings up a few people who had been hiding in the basement and after some unnecessary bickering the two groups decide to come together in order to better fortify the house from the rampaging zombies outside.

Night of the Living Dead 1990: When Barbara and Johnny go to visit the grave of a dead relative Johnny ends up dead and Barbara ends up on run from the living dead. She finds a nearby farmhouse where she meets Ben who himself has been trying to escape the reanimating zombies. Ben begins boarding up the house to protect them from the undead and while Barbara is at first hysterical, she eventually toughens up and is able to help Ben in making the house safer. The noise brings up a few people who had been hiding in the basement and after some unnecessary bickering the two groups decide to come together in order to better fortify the house from the rampaging zombies outside.

As you can see, the two plots are pretty damn similar, almost being the same movie. So how do I decide which movie is actually better if they’re so much the same? It’s really pretty easy, and it’s the one thing I mentioned in the film description that’s a little different. It’s Barbara that makes it an easy choice for me. There are a couple of things that make the remake better that have more to do with when the films where made (better makeup effects, more graphic deaths, etc.), but the real clincher is how Barbara acts. In the original she’s a mewling waste of space whose constant screaming and hollering gets on your nerves fast, and she never changes. She goes through the whole film that way. There’s no transformation of her character at all. She’s useless when the film starts, and she’s useless when it ends. I could not stand her in the slightest, and think the group would have been much better off if they had thrown her outside and let the zombies have her. Hell, they might have even survived if they’d locked her out of the house. Nearly everything bad that happens to them is a direct result of her stupidity. In the remake Barbara is much different. She still starts out completely hysterical, but progresses as the film goes on, transforming from a weak and useless woman to the toughest character in the movie. While she’s the character I hated the most in the original, she’s my favorite character in the remake. Her progression as a character is portrayed extremely well too. Understand, I have nothing against Judith O’Dea as an actor, she did exactly what she was asked to do when playing Barbara. I just hated her character and because of how annoying she gets the original film is brought down a notch, but she is an exceptionally awesome character in the remake, and it’s because of that that I find the remake to be a better film. There are some minor things that the remake improves upon as well, but it’s Barbara’s character that really makes the remake better.

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{Yeah, I’ll take the one with the shotgun over the one who can’t stop screaming}

Okay, let’s take a look at how the zombies in the two different films would match up.

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{Zombie vs. Zombie}

Night of the Living Dead 1968: These are ravenously hungry members of the living dead. Though not strong or very intelligent, they are a force to reckon with in numbers. A door or a sealed window might be enough to stop a few of them but in great numbers they can overwhelm most structures. Their numbers can grow exponentially as well since anyone bitten or scratched joins their ranks.

Night of the Living Dead 1990: As in the original these are still extremely hungry members of the living dead, willing to do whatever is necessary to get a bite of their favorite food source, namely us. They aren’t very strong themselves nor are they particularly bright, but they do seem to have a basic level of intelligence in learning how to get to their food, things such as turning a door knob or using a rock to break through a window. Their greatest strength is still in their numbers though. As the horde grows they become more of a force to reckoned with, and those numbers grow rather quickly as they turn more of the living to their side with either bite or scratch.

Let’s check out the stats shall we:

Night of the Living Dead 1968:

-Lack any real intelligence

-Constantly on the lookout for more humans to eat or turn

-Not much strength but in numbers they are capable of taking out most structures

-Can only be killed by a shot to the head so they are capable of taking great damage

-Fierce determination and single mindedness in going after their food

-Capable of growing at an alarming rate by turning living humans

Night of the Living Dead 1990:

-Lack any real intelligence but are capable of learning

-Constantly on the lookout for more humans to eat or turn

-Not much strength but in numbers they are capable of taking out most structures

-Can only be killed by a shot to the head so they are capable of taking great damage

-Fierce determination and single mindedness in going after their food

-Capable of growing at an alarming rate by turning living humans

 

So who do I think would win in this fight? Well, they are pretty close but the remake zombies do have one advantage the original zombies don’t, the ability to learn. While initially I think the fight would be fairly close, the remake zombies’ ability to learn would allow them to eventually overcome the original zombies. If there ends up being a long enough amount of time that the original zombies are able to grow in numbers faster than the remake zombies they might stand a chance, but otherwise the win is going to go to the remake zombies.

 

The Undead Review

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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