Night of the Animated DeadOverview -
Another filmmaker yet again has taken upon themself to remake Night Of The Living Dead, but this time as a near shot-for-shot full-color remake in animated form called Night Of The Animated Dead. The result is a silly, unremarkable attempt to bring in a new audience with more cartoonish violence and gore. This movie is bad on multiple levels and is a low-down dirty shame it exists. There's no new or original angle or take on the subject material either. The video and audio presentations are both serviceable and the one extra doesn't offer anything of real value. Skip It.
Presented by The Long Game in association with Hemisphere Entertainment, Night of the Animated Dead is an animated adaptation of the 1968 horror classic and includes never-before-seen, exclusive animated scenes not found in the original live-action film.
In Night of the Animated Dead, siblings Barbara and Johnny visit their father's grave in a remote cemetery in Pennsylvania when they are suddenly set upon by zombies. Barbara flees and takes refuge in an abandoned farmhouse along with stranded motorist Ben and four local survivors found hiding in the cellar. Together, the group must fight to stay alive against the oncoming horde of zombies while also confronting their own fears and prejudices.
Night of the Animated Dead features the voice talents of Josh Duhamel (Jupiter's Legacy, Transformers) as Harry Cooper, Dulé Hill (The West Wing, Psych) as Ben, Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) as Barbara, James Roday Rodriguez (A Million Little Things, Psych) as Tom, Katee Sackhoff (The Mandalorian, Battlestar Galactica) as Judy, Will Sasso (MadTV) as Sheriff McClelland, Jimmi Simpson (Westworld) as Johnny and Nancy Travis (Last Man Standing) as Helen Cooper.
Executive Producers are Richard Potter (Diciembres), Thomas DeFeo (The Seventh Day) and Jamie Elliott (Fighting with My Family). Producers are Ralph E. Portillo, p.g.a. (Buddy Games), Robert Feldman, p.g.a. (Dr. Shroud) and Kevin Kasha (I Spit on Your Grave). Animation services were provided by Demente Animation Studio. The original Night of the Living Dead was written by George A. Romero (Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead) and John Russo (The Majorettes, Santa Claws). Night of the Animated Dead was produced by Michael J. Luisi, p.g.a. (The Call, Oculus) and directed by Jason Axinn (To Your Last Death).
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Without any rhyme or reason, filmmakers still feel the need to try and re-vitalize or remake the classic and legendary film Night Of The Living Dead from 1968. George Romero was ahead of his time back then and was on to something that was both terrifying and poignant in culture. Over the decades, many filmmakers have either paid homage to the original film with their own vision or have tried and failed at remaking this classic. The only good remake was Tom Savini's take in 1990 - which thankfully had the involvement of Romero and original co-screenwriter John Russo. Now, Night Of The Animated Dead is no different, which is basically a shortened animated shot-for-shot remake of that classic movie. Besides a short extra scene or so and some gratuitous animated violence, this one-note animated film does nothing for anyone who is a fan of the genre, because the short of it - it's bad.
In the never-ending saga that is the zombie genre, there's only one film that started it all. George Romero set out to make Night Of The Flesh Eaters in 1968, which was later titled Night Of The Living Dead and sparked the sub-genre of Zombie Horror. His furthering of the zombie genre that led to tackling political and social issues from Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead still packs a punch and is loved by the millions of horror fans around the world. Unfortunately, back in 1968, Romero and Co. didn't properly trademark the original Night Of The Living Dead film and has now been part of the public domain for a number of years. This means that anyone, anywhere can take the name of Night Of The Living Dead and its story and do a shot-for-shot remake or add in any number of different takes. Many people over the years have tried and all of them have failed. This brings the cinema world up to Night Of The Animated Dead from Jason Axxin, which is also another lifeless attempt.
First off, the poster art for this film is spectacular with a scary image of Ben and Barabara battling for their lives against the undead. But since this is from the Warner Bros. animated department, the same people who animate The DC animated universe, the animation quality isn't that great. Even more so with this zombie flick, the animation is stale, wooden, slow, and completely flat. It's one step above a motion comic the entire time, which makes this short 70-minute runtime feel like a slog. There's no energy to the film at all. Another terrible element is that with most filmmakers who take on a reboot or remake, there is usually a sense of original vision from the new filmmaker who wants to take the story to a different height or look at it from a different angle. That is not the case here as again, this is basically a shot-for-shot remake of the original film.
The only real difference is that it's badly animated now the death scenes implore a Tarantino style of blood and carnage, which is not scary as much as it is silly. For example, when Barbara's brother is killed in the first scene like in the original film by hitting his head on cement, blood and bone spill out everywhere in a grotesque animated fashion. Whereas in the original movie, his head hit the rock, a thud was heard and it was scarier and made more of an impact that he had just died. With animation, the sky's the limit and Axxin went for it and nothing panned out well.
This animated version is about 30 minutes shorter than the original film and quite a few elemental and important scenes are left out. Axxin did feel the need to add a scene or two that went through Ben's previous survival of zombies which was kinda cool but then added a different and worse take on the horrifying ending. In this animated remake, Axxin just wants to show carnage and blood, void of any real poignant story that the original conveyed and earned. The real sad thing here is that the voice cast is super impressive, but due to the laziness of the animation, everything just feels off. Even Josh Duhamel, Dule Hill, Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps), Will Sasso, and Katee Sackhoff can't save this film and that is impressive. The best part of the film is Jimmy Simpson who sounds like he's playing Johnny like Adam West originally had the part in 1968.
Even though Night Of The Animated Dead isn't a bore of a movie and can hold someone's attention for its short 70-minute runtime, there isn't anything new, creative or entertaining to look at here. What's the point of its existence? Is it to show something new or give a different take on a classic film? Not this one. This film doesn't serve a purpose other than to perhaps annoy fans of horror or to have on in the background in a horror-themed party where nobody is really paying any attention.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Night Of The Animated Dead chews its way to Blu-ray + Digital Copy via Warner Bros. The one disc is housed inside a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The artwork is phenomenal that features Ben and Barabara fighting for their lives against the zombie horde. Sadly, this is not the animation style of the film itself. There is an insert for a digital copy inside.
Night Of The Animated Dead comes with a 1080p HD transfer that brings the world of color to the original black and white Night Of The Living Dead film. But for those who remember, there's already a live-action remake in color and a colorized version of the original movie. With this Warner Bros. animation style, the color palette is rather bright and rich in colors from the different shades of grass in the fields to the darker and more subdued colors inside the house.
The blood is a bright shade of red which is evident throughout the film. The unsatisfying part of this video and animation style is how flat and non-detailed it is. It's a simple animation, void of any real detail in the characters compared to the backgrounds they inhabit. The animation itself is choppy, stale, and wooden and feels like a motion-comic. It gets the point across, but it's not pretty to look at. If the creators only went the route that is the poster art, this would have looked much better.
This release comes with a better sounding DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix than its video presentation. Sound effects don't have really any nuance or balance but seem to be the same volume no matter what is happening on screen. That being said, some of the atmospheric sounds of zombie growls and yells from outside do engulf the surround speakers from time to time, but otherwise, this is a front-heavy mix. Blood splatter and spray have been added in for silliness, although that may not be the intent. The score will somewhat add to the suspense it's trying to convey but never reaches the mark. Dialogue is clean and easy to follow, free of any issues.
There is one sole extra that lasts 10 minutes and is EPK type material.
- Making Of: Animating The Dead (HD, 10 Mins.) - A series of interviews with the filmmakers, animators, and some of the voice cast discussing the original film, the zombie genre, and animating this movie. Nothing of real note to see here.
Night Of The Animated Dead is painful to watch for various reasons. The visuals are less than thrilling and the added element of animated gore completely takes away from anything the original accomplished or conveyed. There was hope for something new and exciting to see with this take on Romero's world of the undead, but that was not the case. This just feels like a cheap money-grab by Warner Bros. who evidently spent little time making or releasing this movie. The video and audio presentations are passable and the on bonus feature doesn't add any real reason as to why this remake is important or necessary. The best thing to do here is to Skip It. As usual, the original was good enough.
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