Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.
What would a gory, 2D-animated version of the George Romero classic look like? Night of the Animated Dead is here with all the answers! A voice cast built from recognizable names fills the bland characters with a uniqueness setting them apart from previous iterations. The fun in this zombie entry is that the animated medium allows the violence to go balls-to-the-wall in a way the 1968 version never allowed. The blood flows fast and furious in all its splendid detail, including one truly brutal car accident scene that left my jaw on the floor.
Barbara (Katharine Isabelle, Ginger Snaps) and her brother Johnny (Jimmi Simpson, Stay Alive) go to a cemetery to put a wreath on their father’s grave when an incident with a zombie derails everything. Barbara flees to a local farmhouse with motorist Ben (Dule Hill, Psych). The duo is forced to hole up there and seal off all exits with the help of four local survivors. Radio broadcasts tell them to keep all doors and windows locked and shut, and tensions begin to rise within the group. One of the funniest moments for me came when Ben puts down one single board, and then says “We’re safe now—it’s boarded up tight!” Barbara is still an aggravating character, and Ben remains a strong male lead.
It must be said that if one has seen the original 1968 iteration of Night of the Living Dead or its 1990 remake, one has already seen this story, and know it well. Night of the Animated Dead offers few surprises in terms of narrative or modern changes to the outdated classic script. If one desires some level of modernity injected, they will surely walk away disappointed. You don’t need to fix what isn’t broken! Director Jason Axinn has a clear love and passion for the material—paying tribute to this horror classic was paramount to depicting the story to the animated format.
As far as the animation is concerned, Demente Animation Studio does an admirable job of keeping the character designs simple and the gory bits far more detailed. It feels like an R-rated animated version of Night of the Living Dead with Scooby Doo style animation, and there was no doubt in my mind that is exactly what the creatives envisioned. Creative use of comic book split-screen emulates an animated graphic novel. While those desiring significant changes to Romero’s original will walk away disappointed, Night of the Animated Dead is a blast of nasty animated zombie bleakness, and a more than worthy way to experience this story for the first time.
Night of the Animated Dead moans to Blu-Ray combo pack and DVD on Tuesday, October 5th.