Judge Gordon Sullivan really wishes Tony Hancock's Sunday Afternoon of the Living Dead were out on DVD.
When the sun goes down, the terror begins.
Due ultimately to a clerical error, George Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead entered the public domain—because a copyright notice wasn't included on the prints they weren't considered to have provided "adequate notice" of their status, essentially making them public domain. That means anyone can copy the film at will and release it, which is why we have re-edited, colorized, or spoofed versions floating around in uncountable numbers. It's also why so many remakes have been possible. That's all well and good, but the downside is that pretty much any film can slap on the name Night of the Living Dead and release the flick. That's just what happened with Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection, which takes the basic trapped-in-a-house narrative of the original and gives them a Welsh twist. It's an utterly generic zombie flick, but better than it could have been.
A family is holed up in an isolated Welsh farmhouse after the outbreak of a zombie plague. When they're not fending off the undead they have contend with a gang of violent youths that threaten to tear them apart both mentally and physically.
Zombie fans are a patient, tolerant lot. There are perhaps ten truly great zombie films out there—an average of maybe two or so a decade since Night of the Living Dead in 1968—and zombie fans love their creatures so much that they're willing to sit through some awful dreck just in case it might be a classic in the making. Heck, they'll sit through 90 minutes of boring zombie flick for a good gore scene. The flipside of this tolerance is that they tend to be picky as well, and I don't know what the logic is in taking a standard low-budget zombie film and titling it Night of the Living Dead, Resurrection or not. Sure, Night of the Living Dead has some name recognition, but anyone who is going to care enough to recognize that cult classic is also exactly the kind of person who will be tired of watching another generic zombie film.
Which is all a round-about way of saying that Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection is painfully generic. We've got the isolated family. We've got the gory undead. We've got the attempt at human drama through the aforementioned combo of family and undead. There's even a touch of sociological critique with the inclusion of the gang of roving youths. All that is fine, as far as it goes—but there's no budget to muster the kind of impressive effects that might tempt zombie fans to sit through the otherwise generic film. So we're left with what amounts to a checklist in cinematic form.
This DVD release does an okay job with that generic vibe. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is okay, but the source looks like cheap video. Detail isn't great, and colors can be a bit wacky as well. Black levels shift as well, with some noise in place. I guess it all serves the low-budget nature of the film, and it's hard to know what's caused by the transfer versus the source. Overall, though, it's watchable enough. The 5.1 surround track is similar—dialogue is generally clear and audible (though many viewers will appreciate the subtitles due to the accents) and there's some play with the surrounds, but overall the track doesn't shine in any one area. The film's sole extra is a "cast and crew" commentary that's pretty low key and obviously a bit more positive on the film than most viewers are likely to be. It's worth a listen for those who enjoyed the film, but it's not essential listening.
The other side of being so generic is that the film actually does get some things right. Given the low budget, the gore is pretty good, and the director's eye shows a certain talent for choosing interesting angles. Given the constraints of the budget and the genre, Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection is actually pretty impressive. That doesn't make it more fun to watch, but it does mean that those with an interest in low-budget horror should keep an eye out for future projects by this team.
I don't think anyone will be surprised to learn that Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection is not an essential zombie film. Though its cast and crew do an admirable job under the constraints of their budget, the results are a bit too generic to be worth recommending to all but the most devoted followers of low-budget zombie cinema.
Guilty of being generic.
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