It’s kind of sad that George A. Romero’s untouchable 1968 masterpiece “Night of the Living Dead” has fallen into the public domain. Of course, the situation is ideal for those looking to shamelessly capitalize on the movie’s legancy, but the rest of us are left to suffer the artistically barren cinematic offspring of this opportunistic approach to horror filmmaking. Such is the case of Jeff Broadstreet’s dodgy 2006 reimagining “Night of the Living Dead 3D”, a film that boldly attempts to combine two of Hollywood’s latest trends: three-dimensional technology and remakes. In the history of outrageously bad ideas, this should at least receive an honorable mention. I’ll fill out the paperwork tomorrow if need be.
Using Romero’s classic a framework for this supposed tribute to the original film, Broadstreet shamelessly regurgitates a painfully generic zombie scenario that never once deviants from form. Here’s the setup in a nutshell: A group of people trapped in an isolated location attempt to keep the living dead at bay while contending with a number of interpersonal issues that arise as a result. In this instance, we’re treated to a story populated with a number of stereotypical redneck cash croppers and the unfortunate individuals forced to use this hillbilly farmhouse as sanctuary. The filmmakers offer up nothing new, unless, of course, you consider the incorporation of cheap 3D to be revolutionary. Let’s hope not.
Broadstreet’s embarrassingly formulaic approach to the “Night of the Living Dead” mythos could have been forgiven had screenwriter Robert Valding genuinely cared about his script. However, it’s apparent from the first fifteen minutes that very little thought went into the characters, the story, or the dialogue. Additionally, the lack of tender loving care suggests that both Valding and Broadstreet have a very limited understanding of what made the original feature so undeniably powerful. In one broad stroke, the cast and crew have transformed a thoughtful, imaginative motion picture into a lame excuse for violence, cheap special effects, and, of course, the wonders of the third dimension.
In regards to 3D, I suppose I should make my stance clear: In layman’s terms, I hate it. A handful of exceptions aside, the technology is simply a crutch to help empty-headed movie-goers forget that they’re watching a terrible movie. Careful plotting and deep characterization are quickly becoming a thing of the past; if you can dazzle the audience with flying objects and the appearance of depth, there’s a very strong possibility that no one will ever notice how impossibly pathetic your endeavor truly is. “Night of the Living Dead 3D”, however, never achieves this feeling of mindless euphoria. Instead, you’re presented with a throbbing, nearly unmanageable headache, one that lingers for several hours after the movie has finished brutally raping your sensitive retinas.
Truthfully, there’s only one reason to the watch the film, and that’s to see genre veteran Sid Haig do his thing. The guy is always entertaining, even when his performances tend to cross the line into self-parody. The other members of this lackluster cast, I’m sorry to say, are hardly worth mentioning, and do little to prevent you from turning off the film and finding something better to do with your precious time. Brianna Brown might be easy on the eyes, but listening to her lock horns with Valding’s wholly unpleasant script is akin to popping zits with a meat clever.
Why does “Night of the Living Dead 3D” exist? Because Jeff Broadstreet and Robert Valding desperately want to separate you from your coveted entertainment dollar. There’s no tender loving care to be found anywhere in the picture, leading one to believe that this was nothing more than a cheap way to earn a quick buck off of someone else’s hard work. Shame on those who continue to take advantage of the original’s public domain status, especially low-rent filmmakers who continuously generate the cinematic equivalent of explosive diarrhea. Unless you have a fetish for terrible zombie flicks and have plenty of painkillers on-hand, there’s absolutely no reason to waste your time with this Broadstreet’s grossly unnecessary remake.
Jeff Broadstreet (director) / Robert Valding (screenplay)
CAST: Brianna Brown … Barb
Joshua DesRoches … Ben
Sid Haig … Gerald Tovar, Jr.
Greg Travis … Henry Cooper
Johanna Black … Hellie Cooper
Adam Chambers … Owen