Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated

 Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated (2009)
Dir. George Romero (original) “Curated by” Mike Schneider (NotLV:R)
Written by George Romero, John A. Russo
Starring Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman

    This is a very interesting film experiment, wherein the entirety of George Romero’s genre-defining zombie classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is refilmed (over the unchanged original soundtrack) and replaced with animations by over 150 independent, volunteer artists. I say “interesting” instead of “good,” because the mash-up of styles never really evokes a consistent tone and instead sort of wildly oscillates between amusing, incomprehensible, and genuinely evocative. It’s not quite the elusive bridge between animation and horror that I’d been hoping for since I reviewed CARTOON NOIR, but it’s still a funny, appealingly interesting project for anyone who has a mutual love of animation and the zombie arts.

    When I first heard of this project at the ever-inscrutable Washington Psychotronic Film Society, I assumed that it would basically find the movie divided into sections, where a single artist would take over and animate over a few minutes of film, then move on to the next. Actually this is not the case -- instead, it’s a hodge-podge second-by-second compilation, where in a single scene you’ll see still comic book images, footage created using Half-Life 2, sock puppets, gorgeously rendered traditional animation, and original footage cranked through a bunch of weird filters. Like I said, this means it never finds a consistent tone; but at least it’s rarely boring. If you’re not into what you’re watching this particular second, you can expect to see something radically different in the next.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of the film skews towards either the comic or the comically incompetent, which is a shame because when a few artists do legitimately make an effort to create something unique and stirring they often find strong results. I mean, I can’t imagine myself personally not being amused by watching key scenes from a seminal horror classic acted out by clumsy Barbie dolls or animated dogs or whatever. But that sort of pleasure is kind of fleeting in the face of some of the more daring visual experiments here. In some ways, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is one of the most interesting films to experiment with exaggerated style on, since the original (like most of Romero’s work) is so overwhelmingly literal in its composition and visualization. It’s this bizarre nightmare, but it’s look is almost documentary realism -- what might happen, then, if we let an artist with a more surreal visual style try his or her hand at the exact same material? Well, occasionally we get something of genuine power and skin-crawling creepiness. Many of the artists visually depict the mostly-suppressed tension between the characters  --depicting Ben as a larger-than-life volcano of rage, Barbara as a barely-present wisp, Harry as a twisted tangle of angry lines-- which intriguingly brings the quiet, underground tension of the original to a howling maelstrom in the forefront. One of the most interesting techniques, however, finds new life in the images by reducing them to a barely-comprehensible geometric abstraction: Zombies approach as angular blobs, relying on their motion and tiny abstract details to convey their menace. This kind of imaginative thinking convinces me more than ever that there’s a wonderful unexplored world out there for animated horror. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED may not penetrate deep into that world, but it’s at the very least an interesting catalog of its surface.

But wait! Don't take my word for it! You can stream it free online and see for yourself!


BOOBIES: No animated Ta-tas. Sorry, Japan.
> or = HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS LEVEL GORE: Good amount of gnarly zombie gore, an obvious love of the artists.
SEQUEL: First of four Romero Dead films, plus two embarrassing found footage Romero Dead movies, and an endless procession of ripoffs.
OBSCURITY LEVEL: Extremely  High.
ZOMBIES: A bunch, although they're never referred to as such.

No comments:

Post a Comment