NIGHT OF THE ANIMATED DEAD (2021) Reviews and overview

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Night of the Animated Dead is a 2021 American science fiction horror film and a remake of the classic Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Directed by Jason Axinn (To Your Last Death aka Malevolent). Produced by Robert Feldman, Michael J. Luisi and Ralph E. Portillo.

The voice cast includes Josh Duhamel (Jupiter’s Legacy), Dulé Hill (Hypnotic; Psych), Katharine Isabelle (See No Evil 2; American Mary; Ginger Snaps), James Roday Rodriguez (Psych), Katee Sackhoff (Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two; Riddick; Oculus; Halloween: Resurrection), Will Sasso (Boss Level), Jimmi Simpson (Westworld) and Nancy Travis (The Kominsky Method).

“Presented by The Long Game in association with Hemisphere Entertainment, Night of the Animated Dead is an animated adaptation of the 1968 horror classic and includes never-before-seen, exclusive animated scenes not found in the original live-action film.”

In Night of the Animated Dead, siblings Barbara and Johnny visit their father’s grave in a remote cemetery in Pennsylvania when they are suddenly set upon by zombies. Barbara flees and takes refuge in an abandoned farmhouse along with stranded motorist Ben and four local survivors found hiding in the cellar.

Together, the group must fight to stay alive against the oncoming horde of zombies while also confronting their own fears and prejudices.”

Reviews:

Night of the Animated Dead wouldn’t have passed Saturday morning standards in 1968, never mind six decades later. Human characters don’t move any more fluidly than the ghouls. They’re all Frankenstein’s Monster Colorforms, waddling on two-dimensional planes as though every other frame went missing from their minimal movements of herky-jerky jankiness.” Culture Crypt 

” …Night of the Animated Dead feels more like a cash grab than anything else. It’s a prime example of wasted opportunity not to invest in the right talent to bring this classic zombie story to the realm of animation […] Poor directing and laughable animation make this a very hard thing to recommend, and the worst possible way to enjoy what is one of the most revolutionary and influential movies in film history. ” Fiction Horizon

” …a little bit of a lazy retelling. Don’t get me wrong the flick does very little wrong and somehow manages to evoke the themes of the original that feel all the more relevant in 2021 as they did in 1968, but the director had a chance to really imitate then elaborate but didn’t. The voice cast this time around is somewhat lacklustre too…” Nerdly

“Jason Axinn claims to be a huge fan of the original Night of the Living Dead and of Romero’s work in general. The only way I can reconcile that with how Night of the Animated Dead turned out is to think that he was signed on then given a low budget and impossibly short schedule. Because this doesn’t feel like the work of a fan, it feels like a cash-in.” Voices from the Balcony

Release:

Night of the Animated Dead will be released on Digital on September 21, 2021, followed by a Blu-ray + DVD combo release on October 5. Special Features will include:

Making of the Animated Dead – Join director Jason Axinn and Producer Michael Luisi as they regale fans with the careful process of honouring the iconic classic with their vision for an animated remake, including scene breakdowns and booth recordings with the cast.

Voice cast and characters:

Josh Duhamel … Harry Cooper
Dulé Hill … Ben
Katharine Isabelle … Barbara
Katee Sackhoff … Judy
Jimmi Simpson … Johnny
James Roday Rodriguez … Tom
Nancy Travis … Helen Cooper
Will Sasso … Sheriff McClelland

Technical details:

71 minutes
Colour
Aspect ratio: 1.78: 1

Fun facts:

Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn (2014) was a previous animated take on Night of the Living Dead.

Trailer:

MOVIES and MANIA says:

Ignore the cool-looking cover artwork, because Night of the Animated Dead suffers from the most basic animation seen in recent years. Initially, it’s actually difficult to watch due to the shoddy visuals and yet it gradually draws the viewer in if only to see what’s different from the 1968 original; which turns out to be hardly anything, except it’s condensed by about a third so the plot moves faster.

As it’s an almost scene-for-scene remake of Romero’s seminal classic, albeit, with some added splatter, there’s nothing that doesn’t surprise or engage. The shorter running time means that the characters aren’t as developed and the infamous Harry Cooper comes across as less bigoted and so less interesting.  Ultimately, this seems like a cheap and cynical cash-grab rather than a tribute to the film that helped to launch a million or more zombies onto our screens.  It’s pointless and not recommended.

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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