“They’re coming to get you, Barbara” is one of the most famous lines in a movie. Thanks to George Romero we have it. He gave us one of the greatest zombie movies of all time, Night of the Living Dead, and the first time that zombies are flesh eaters. Before this, zombies were just undead servants, but Romero gave us what we know today. After the hit 1968 film came its remake in 1990. Granted, they both share the same story line, but there are some changes made. The question is, did the changes make the remake better than the original?
The Undead Come to Life
As I said, both movies follow the same main story line. A brother and sister are visiting their mother’s grave when they are attacked by a zombie. Johnny, the brother, gets killed and Barbara runs away. She comes upon a farmhouse and decides to hide there. There she meets other survivors and they must all band together to defeat the undead. The problem is, as I’ve said before, and so has every other horror movie, humans cannot seem to get along when everything goes downhill.
Let There Be Color
The biggest difference right off the bat is the color scheme. The original is in black and white while the remake is in color. This massive change adds more to the remake. When the lighting isn’t as defined, it’s hard to tell when nightfall comes in the original. Whereas the difference between night and day stands out more in the remake. When the townhouse visibly gets darker, it adds to the spooky atmosphere. With the added color, the gore is more enhanced. In the black and white version, the blood looks like simple pools of dark liquid. In the color added we see it all, the blood, rotting bodies, and even dirt. The movie has a better look and is much scarier with the added color.
The other noticeable change is the character of Barbara. In the original, Barbara is useless, going into shock soon after Johnny’s death. This shock causes the others to take care of her until the zombies eventually get her. In the remake, Barbara again goes into shock, but comes out of it to help. She is a real badass woman. She picks herself up and even gives them the idea to just walk by the zombies as they are slow. Sadly no one listened to her, maybe then more would have survived. Her determination to live makes her a fighter. Which may be why she is the only one of the whole farmhouse to do so.
The same old thing
The one thing not changed across the two films was the group not getting along. In both versions, Ben, the man who first helps Barbara, and Cooper, the grumpy older man who is hiding in the basement with his family, do not get along. They are constantly bumping heads and not agreeing on what to do. Cooper wants to hide out in the cellar and wait for it to end. Ben thinks that’s a horrible idea and wants to fortify the townhouse as a whole. They constantly argue and fight, making it hard to form a solid plan. In the remake, the key to their problems was in the cellar the whole time. If they had worked together, the key could have been found all along.
Night of the Living Dead: Is Newer Better?
I believe both Night of the Living Dead films are good, but overall I believe the remake was better. Not only does it look better with the color instead of black and white, but it got the point across better. In the original, the group not getting along does not have any real consequences. But in the remake there were consequences, finding the keys in the end when everything had already fallen apart. I also believe the characters were more interesting in the remake than the original. Not to say the original was no good. Come on, this is the first of a long line of zombie movies! It has its nostalgic appeal and still holds up magnificently on its own. It will always be a great film, but against the remake… the remake wins