340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Caaaaake... must... eat... caaake...

I always have the best birthdays and this year was no exception: C. & I spent most of the day in bed, playing Mercenaries, eating the spice cake she baked me and cooing over how great I looked in the retro CBC shirts she got me: the 50s design is on a soft, comfy lined tee, and the 70s "exploding pizza" logo looks great on the warm, long-sleeve blue cotton one.

Later, we met my folks for a quick supper at Mesquìte and giggled ourselves senseless over the "pulled pork" before heading home to watch Hallowe'en-weekend zombie movies. Now that's a birthday.

* * *

Conventional wisdom around movie remakes is that, by and large, they suck ass. Securing the rights to an older picture is usually expensive, which means that a big, creativity-crushing studio ends up footing the bill. Alternately, a studio remakes a product it already owns, in which case it's invested in protecting the sanctity of its brand. Either way, the audience is usually left with a tepid, half-assed collection of ironic winks and over-produced garbage.

Not so with the 1990 remake of the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead. Starring Patricia Tallman, Tony Todd (of Candyman "fame") and Tom Towles, this version is a crisp, smart version of the now-archetypal story. All of the original's tense pathos is maintained while the social commentary is actually ratcheted up slightly: closing shots of lynched zombies surrounded by hollering rednecks are lingered over instead of hinted at, and the transformation of the 'Barbara' character from withdrawn, mousy victim into a take-charge, rifle-carrying, no-bullshit protagonist both speak to a new social context that nevertheless shares many of the same concerns that fuelled the original movie. In fact, this version does what the best remakes (and cover songs) should do: it reminds us of the original's timeless qualities. If you dig zombie movies, I'd definitely suggest checking out this updated classic.

Plus, it's got Patricia Tallman: perhaps better known as 'Lyta Alexander' on Babylon 5, she's a career stuntwoman and member of the Stunt Woman's Association of America. She also co-founded the Galactic Gateway, a sci-fi web portal and works closely with Penny Lane, a Californian children's charity. Pretty cool.

Oh, and here's some interesting trivia: it was directed by Tom Savini, who was hired by Romero to do the makeup effects on the original (1968) Night of the Living Dead. Neat, huh?


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