This is a little different. A fan 're-imagining' of sorts. These are prevalent online, but I think that this the first shot per shot that actually had a decent release. Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated from Wild Eye Releasing takes us, finally, on a unique journey through a story that most film fans, horror and secular, are familiar with. The story itself is a remake of the original Night of the Living Dead, complete with same characters, plot devices and pacing and even uses the original audio and soundtrack. What NOTLD:R gives us, though, is over 150 artists working in various mediums in order to tell the story. It is a unique mish-mash of animated styles and interpretations that only works because of the story’s familiarity, but serves better as a cohesive inter-modal art show with a thematic backbone. The original NOTLD is a classic and has been seen, and re-seen, by millions. In its wake, though, the zombie apocalypse story has become contrived and, evidenced by even Romero’s most recent work, a unique take on the sub-genre is not forthcoming. So, what Michael Schneider and his NeoFlux Productions has done is remade the original zombie apocalypse in multiple formats. Each contribution to the film will not be the particular ‘cup of tea’ to every viewer. That’s fine and, in creating NOTLD:R in such a manner, Schneider has made the zombie apocalypse relevant again.
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NOTLD:R was produced and edited by Schneider, but different scenes, and portions of scenes, were created by over 150 international artists. The scenes they chose to create were not given to them and the medium for their creations was not dictated by Schneider. The call for submissions was made and the fate of the film rested on a group of artists willing to undertake the mission. The result is a collection of traditional animation, puppetry, CGI, live action, stop motion, comic book illustration and even tattoos… to name a few. The edited film is a compilation of each of these styles. The theme of the submissions were not dictated either. They range from absurdist, free-form illustration, to metaphorical anthropomorphic cartoons. There is a bit of social commentary, reflection on NOTLD’s place in the universe, political sarcasm, etc., etc. NOTLD:R is the definition of a mixed bag and that is it’s strongest point… as well as it’s biggest weakness.
Narratively, looking at this release as a coherent story, it is an abject failure. Yes, we are all familiar with the storyline so that comes through, but the presentation is so disjointed and chaotic that, as a film, NOTLD: R suffers immensely. On the other hand, the chaos and disjointed-ness of the production is exactly what makes this film so eye opening. It is fresh and new and perfectly attuned to the ADHD culture we live in right now. Watching NOTLD:R is like taking in an entire art show all at once. At once horrible and beautiful, it is reminiscent of Mary Shelley’s depiction of her Frankenstein monster. Stitched together from the limbs of the dead, the whole being, although complete, is frightening. But, in its wholeness, the creature is beautiful. Whether or not the beauty comes from actually existing as something that should not be or from the creature’s own merits is up for debate… much like Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated.
Regardless, Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated is an experience that needs to be, well, experienced. And not just by Romero or zombie fans. This is a unique presentation of a familiar story and, in a time where we complain about remakes and rehashes that do nothing to advance the state of the genre, it would behoove the horror fan to not try NOTLD:R on for size.