Combustible Celluloid
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With: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Keith Wayne, Marilyn Eastman, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon, George Kosana
Written by: John A. Russo, George A. Romero
Directed by: George A. Romero
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 98
Date: 03/18/2013

Rifftrax: Night of the Living Dead (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Rise of the Zombies

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Following the demise of the beloved "Mystery Science Theater 3000" TV show, its stars Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett continued on by creating "Rifftrax," which were downloadable audio files that could be played along with your favorite movies. Now the crew has assembled a series of ten new "Rifftrax" DVDs, released by Legend Films and including funny audio commentary tracks (no silhouettes or robot heads) as well as an option to view the movie with its original audio track. The downside is that all of these titles are in the public domain, are widely available elsewhere, and are not in the best of quality. In the case of Night of the Living Dead, the comedy team is competing with both Elite Entertainment's 2002 "Millennium Edition" and Dimension's 2008 40th Anniversary Edition, both essential. Moreover, there's the problem that Night of the Living Dead is actually a great movie, and their ridicule of its quality and artistic touches doesn't really work. However, some of their other jokes still work, and once they get you giggling, it's hard to stop. The following is my original 2002 review of the film:

Night of the Living Dead happens to rank squarely with the greatest films ever made, period. Back in 1994, Elite released an expensive laserdisc box set of the film that proudly announced itself as the definitive version, and they've now transferred the film and the numerous extras to a much cheaper and much more compact "Millennium Edition" DVD. Directed by George A. Romero (Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead), the film fell into public domain territory over the years, and horrible bootleg copies began turning up in video bargain bins. Sadly, that's the way many fans have seen the film. (According to Romero, not even the original theatrical release was up to snuff.) So this DVD is bound to shock viewers with its clear, bright black-and-white picture. The film itself goes where no horror film had ever gone before, and rarely since. It focuses on a random selection of people who have barely escaped the clutches of zombies -- newly risen dead -- roaming the countryside and eating human flesh. The humans, led by African American Duane Jones, find that they have each other to fear as much as the threat outside. As for the DVD extras... are you ready? Two commentary tracks, one with Romero and the producers, and one with the cast (except Jones, who died in 1988); a clip from an early Romero film There's Always Vanilla, a parody film called Night of the Living Bread posters, photos, video interviews, radio interviews, props, stills, the shooting script, and more.

The ten Rifftrax DVDs are: RiffTrax: Night of the Living Dead, RiffTrax: The Little Shop of Horrors, RiffTrax: Reefer Madness, RiffTrax: Carnival of Souls, RiffTrax: House on Haunted Hill, RiffTrax: Missile to the Moon, RiffTrax: Plan 9 from Outer Space, RiffTrax: Swing Parade, RiffTrax: The Best Of RiffTrax Shorts, Vol. 1 andRiffTrax: The Best Of RiffTrax Shorts, Vol. 2.

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