Night Of The Animated Dead

In DVD/Blu-ray by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

In 1968, a $114,000 budget film, made by an unknown director, became one of the most profitable indie films ever. It would eventually spawn a franchise spanning seven decades.

Night Of The Living Dead isn’t just the first modern zombie film, it’s a cornerstone movie, that has influenced generations of generations of  writers and filmmakers. Despite the negative perceptions that many genre movies have, Night Of The Living Dead regularly appears in ‘best of’ lists and has been cited as culturally significant for its groundbreaking mix of politics and horror. The fact that George A. Romero cast a black actor, Duane Jones, as the lead was especially important. Jones rewrite many of his own lines, changing the character dynamic from a simple truck-driver to an erudite leader. In doing so, he gave audiences an educated, take-charge, black hero—in an era when segregation and prejudice was the norm. 

In an age of constant remakes and reboots, offering audiences a new take on something well-loved isn’t that strange. And the aim here seems to be to produce a version of Romero’s classic that suits the viewing habits of the HD, fast and furious streaming generation. Does it work? Almost. Does it add anything to the original? Maybe.

The animation isn’t top-notch. In fact, compared to the outstanding quality of Warner Bros’ Animated Universe releases, it’s a real disappointment.

The voice actors are reassuringly familiar and do a good job of interpreting the iconic characters for a new generation. The run-time of the original film was around 90 minutes—the animation cuts that down to 68, which does add pace and a sense of urgency. Additional action scenes, not found in the original, have been added—along with a lot more gore. The result is something that feels like it could have been really good, if only there had been the budget and the will.

Night Of The Animated Dead is one for the collectors, completionists, and maybe post-pub audiences who would never watch a black and white film, but might find a zombie animation fun. 

Extras: Making of the Animated Dead – Join director Jason Axinn & Producer Michael Luisi as they regale fans with the careful process of honouring the iconic classic with their vision for an animated remake, including scene breakdowns and booth recordings with the cast.

Night Of The Animated Dead, presented by The Long Game in association with Hemisphere Entertainment, is available on DVD, blu-ray and digital, now. The Blu-ray is exclusively available at HMV.