JANUARY 8, 2013
The best thing I can say about Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation is that it really puts other bad movies in perspective. Take a movie like yesterday's Wishmaster 3 (wait, Andrew Divoff said no/didn't get enough money for that, but did for THIS?) - it's bad, but I can see what they were going for, they weren't part of an important franchise, and even if they weren't very good, it delivered a kill scene or some sort of beat every 10 minutes or so.
Well, in this movie (using the term loosely here, sort of like referring to a tomato as a vegetable to someone who won't bother to correct you), absolutely nothing happens. Nothing. At all. Sure, there are a few zombie kills, but they are of no consequence, and all but two or three of them occur in one poorly executed scene near the very end. You'd think that a zombie movie with maybe 10 zombies would have some amazing kills to make up for the shortage, but it's the same old bullet in the head shit, and of course it's all digital blood and digital head removal, so it looks terrible and will satisfy no one. And writer/director/producer Jeff Broadstreet goes above and beyond in ensuring that everyone will hate his zombie "action" by shooting the zombies on greenscreen and compositing them into a shot, because apparently it would be of far too much effort to put 5-6 volunteer "actors" to get made up as zombies and stand in a room for a couple hours. It's amazing that Romero, O'Bannon, Fulci, Wright, and just about every other zombie filmmaker one could ever name were able to pull off something so complicated as "having people stand together in a room".
Ah, but this is 3D! Surely that complicates everything, right? Uh, sure, I guess. I am not familiar with the 3D process or how to film it, but since Broadstreet himself seemed to figure it out OK enough 5 years ago with his first film (aka Night of the Living Dead 3D, which this is actually a prequel to - Divoff is playing the younger version of Sid Haig's character), I don't know why he couldn't do it again here. And it's not just the zombies; everything from Divoff standing in front of his funeral home to Jeffrey Combs laying in a fresh grave is created through the "magic" of greenscreens and compositing; if not for some outtakes proving that they were together I'd actually wonder if the main actors in the film ever met. When you see Sarah Lieving stand next to a horribly oversized and mis-colored sign for the funeral home, you know you're in trouble - they couldn't drop 20 bucks on a fucking sign?
Actually I might have already inadvertently explained why this movie looks so cheap. Divoff and Combs probably didn't do this out of the goodness of their hearts, and even Lieving (and Robin Sydney) probably got more than this movie clearly spent on makeup FX or locations. Add in the 3D process that no one in the world is ever going to want to watch it in (at least not on standard DVD, where it's given the red/blue treatment - perhaps the blu-ray is the "good" kind for blu-ray TV sets/players), and you have a production that clearly couldn't afford to put much into the actual movie. Divoff and Combs have enough (deserved) name value to get the thing sold in major territories, the 3D angle probably helps out in Asia where 3D is still huge, and thus the movie has served its purpose of making a few bucks for the producers. Who gives a shit if the movie's a complete waste of time and talent (in the actors' cases)? Someone probably got a new car.
Hilariously, if you recall I was actually kind of lenient toward the previous film, at least compared to anyone I've ever talked to about it. I didn't love the stoner humor (recreated here) or confusing "it's a remake but it takes place in the real world where NOTLD is a movie" approach, but it was at least watchable and had some energy to it. This movie is completely stillborn from start to finish; at one point I was convinced that the post production house accidentally put the deleted scene assembly on the DVD as the feature. A typical scene will have Combs and Divoff talking about the former's money problems, or of Leiving and Sydney discussing embalming or whatever, or maybe someone watching a Sarah Palin stand-in on "FIXD News". The rare zombie scenes until the climax have zero build up or tension; basically a ghoul will wander into the scene and Divoff will kill it 12 seconds later (the plot has him, I think, trying to keep the others from knowing that his corpses have begun rising from the dead). Then it's back to the real meat of the movie: Jeffrey Combs sitting in a chair having long conversations with Andrew Divoff about money. "When is the shit going to hit the fan?" you might ask yourself at the one hour mark, when still nothing has happened. But hopefully you've turned it off by then and will take my word for it that the answer is "never".
Back to the thing about the movie existing in a universe where the original Night is a movie - this one makes things more confusing, as Combs says "they're slow like Romero zombies" and then proceeds to discuss the real life zombie outbreaks in Pittsburgh in 1968, 1978, 1985, and 1990 ("Similar to 1968's outbreak, but gorier" he says, as we presumably applaud such wit). But he also claims another outbreak in 1985 except in Louisiana, referring to Return Of The Living Dead, which claimed that Romero's film was a documentary. Wrapping your head around this continuity/logic is a fool's errand, but I assure you it's a better use of your time than watching the film.
Silver lining: the commentary track promised on the back of the DVD case does not actually appear on the disc itself, which I guess we can consider a tradeoff since the case doesn't mention anything about the 3D, curiously enough. So that's good; I was seriously dreading having to listen to Broadstreet and co. talk about this thing for 90 minutes, because that would be another 90 minutes this movie took from me. Instead we are just offered a 13 minute making of where each actor is praised and the 3D process is fawned over, a 5 minute look at the film's terrible visual FX (the fake sign is covered! I was so happy), and a few outtakes where we can at least take comfort in knowing that Divoff and Combs seemed to enjoy making each other laugh. I can't recall the two ever working together before; if they became buddies out of this, it's the only thing besides their presence (and that of Lieving and Sidney, who are lovely and always welcome sights in bad horror movies) that rescues the movie from the Crap bin. What can I say, I'm a giver. And it's still better than NOTLD: 30th Anniversary.
What say you?
P.S. There's a character named Christie Forrest, and to be sure we get the reference, she's introduced mistakenly as "Christine" (for those too lazy to Google, Christine Forrest is George Romero's wife). Since the movie carries the usual disclaimer about "Any similarity to actual persons living or dead" ("or undead", because this movie is hack bullshit and made by people unaware that that joke has been made about 11,000 times), I hope she sues them.