Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation Blu-ray Review
Directed by Jeff Broadstreet
Written by Jeff Broadstreet, Robert Valding
2012, Region 2 (PAL), 88 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 20th August 2012
Andrew Divoff as Gerald Tovar Jr.
Jeffrey Combs as Harold Tovar
Sarah Lieving as Christie Forrest
Robin Sydney as DyeAnne
Adam Chambers as Russell
Scott Thomson as Werner Gottshok
Jeffrey Combs stars in a zombie movie with a variation upon the word 'Re-Animator' in the title. Andrew Divoff plays his undertaker brother and stores a baby zombie in the refrigerator. On paper (if you ignore the clunky title), Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation sounds like a sure fire cult hit. In reality, it's one of the worst George A Romero spin-offs since the Day of the Dead remake.
The warning signs, to be fair, were there all along. Any movie with '3D' in the title should generally be avoided (unless preceded by the words Piranha or Dredd) especially if that film didn't even get a cinema release. Almost every aspect of the title is a lie. It's a prequel not to the George A. Romero Night of the Living Dead or even the Tom Savini version – but to the 2006 remake, a film so terrible I only watched the first half before giving up. It's only 3D if you have a 3DTV and the film is neither animated nor has anything to do with Re-Animator (aside from Jeffrey Combs and some zombies). To confuse matters, there's a movie from 2009 called Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated, which is actually an animated Night of the Living Dead remake. Still, the brilliant Jeffrey Combs and underrated Andrew Divoff can make anything watchable, right?
Much as we love them, Combs and Divoff are hardly guarantors of quality. They play estranged brothers Gerald and Harold, inheritors of their father's mortality. Gerald (Divoff) is successfully running the business when Harold (Combs) arrives looking for a cut of the profits. To complicate matters, Gerald's patients are refusing to stay dead and their father isn't exactly resting in peace either. With its slow family drama taking priority over any zombie action, it's more like a very dull episode of Six Feet Under than a Romero movie. After a lengthy series of gruff conversations between the brothers, Harold takes Gerald to see the living dead. The zombies here are even less active than usual, at first moving so slowly that they can only be witnessed doing so via a video recording played on fast forward. Coincidentally, Re-Animation is also best viewed on fast forward.
Like most straight to DVD films, it's full of scenes which stall the plot and pad out the action. The characters sit around talking about the time of day, the weather and old family arguments. Thankfully, in this case, those characters are played by Divoff and Combs, which makes it infinitely more watchable. Combs is such a consummate pro that he made his character in Star Trek (whose skin was ultramarine blue and wore mandibles on his forehead) not seem silly. Divoff is best known for playing the malicious Djinn in Wishmaster and wearing an eye-patch in LOST. Their scenes together are a lot of fun, with their matching moustaches and contrasting acting styles – Combs chewing the scenery, Divoff slowly nibbling it before taking big greedy bites at the end. The HD that Blu Ray offers is not kind to the cheap scenery, but Divoff's face was made for the format.
When there is finally some action, Andrew Divoff shoots a zombie's head off with a shotgun and his beloved Aunt Lou spreads the virus by embarking upon a violent biting spree amongst the (largely useless) supporting cast. Even at the climax, it never feels as though Re-Animation ever properly kicks into gear. There's about ten minutes of actual action and horror in the whole film. Divoff and Combs are good, but no-one is good enough to distract us from the fact that they made a zombie movie with barely any zombies in it.
It may boast of its 3D in the title, but Night of the Living Dead: Re-Animation is utterly two-dimensional filmmaking at its worst.
Video and Audio:
The high definition video is sharp and crisp, but just makes everything else look cheap. In this case, a little grime on the lens wouldn't have gone amiss. Still, HD gets its money's worth from Divoff's face, which is fascinatingly craggy. His gruff, croaky voice owns the film. I'd be perfectly content to listen to Divoff narrate the whole Oxford English Dictionary. It'd probably be more interesting than his film's script, too.
A making of featurette, director's commentary, bloopers reel and a feature about the CGI and visual effects.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*