Barbara (Brianna Brown) is a passenger in a car driven by her brother Johnny (Ken Ward) on the way to the funeral of a late aunt who they only met twice in the past ten years, he complaining but she acknowledging that they are really going through with it for their mother's satisfaction. Once they arrive at the cemetery, they notice that nobody else appears to have turned up but Barb spots the coffin on the brow of the hill and heads up there. However, Johnny wanders back down the hill after they hear noises from inside the casket, only to be attacked by two shambling figures as his sister looks on in terror: the living dead are here...
If this is sounding vaguely familiar, then that it because it was a remake of George A. Romero's genuinely groundbreaking 1968 horror classic, no, not the one from 1990, but the effort made during the following decade which had the distinction of adding a third dimension to the gruesomeness. Or there would be gruesomeness if anybody had thought to add much in the way of gore, a crucial element of the original, even more important for Romero's sequels, and curiously lacking here. There's a little blood spilled, but the special effects budget appeared to have been spent on hiring the 3D camera.
And it was money well spent, as it remained the most interesting aspect, though sadly sabotaged by the fact that the 3D looked far better in the daylight rather than in darkness, which was unfortunate when the word "night" is in your title and you are pretty much duty bound to make sure the action takes place after sunset. Otherwise, you were left wondering why director Jeff Broadstreet bothered to base his film on this existing material at all, as there were only going to be comparisons and his low budget work could only suffer when up against a film which changed cinema forever. Safe to say that nobody was going to be inspired to come up with something innovative on the strength of this.
Taking the lead from the first remake, Barbara, now abbreviated to Barb, is a less shellshocked heroine than the one from the original, and more of an active participant. She is saved by Ben (Joshua DesRoches), who in a change from the source is white not black, so the political aspects of Romero's script fly swiftly out of the window never to return, replaced with a half hearted religious theme where the prevalence of zombies munching on the living is paralleled with God bringing about the apocalypse: well, the dead are supposed to come back to life on the day of judgement, right? But even that goes nowhere in particular.
A ray of sunshine in all this misguided gloom is offered by the presence of genre favourite Sid Haig, as the owner of the local crematorium who knows more than he is letting on, in a wearisome twist that adds nothing and shows up the paucity of imagination this reworking has brought to the table. There's a lot of talk in this, talk being cheap after all, and Haig is the sole cast member to make his monologue worth listening to, being a far better actor than the reduced circumstances he often found himself in would allow for much of the time. Otherwise, the additions to a film which needed none include a sex scene so we can see a naked lady in 3D, and a bit of stoner humour as a few of the characters are either dealers or customers. It's not exciting, funny, scary, even interesting to be honest, and resembles a cash-in designed to part the gullible from their money. I'm not saying the zombies were mainly behind the camera this time, but... Music by Jason Brandt.