PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Apocalypse is Trending: 'Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection

Cinematic viscera—mindlessly pulled from the horror film archive and chewed into a bloody mess.

Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection

Director: James Plumb
Cast: Sule Rimi, Sabrina Dickens, Richard Goss, Mel Stevens, Kathy Saxondale, Terry Victor, Lee Bane, Aaron Bell, Rose Granger
Distributor: Lionsgate
Rated: R
Year: 2011
Release date: 2013-04-30

In Night of the Living Dead, George Romero’s 1968 film that founded the modern zombie genre, a group of people seek refuge in a farmhouse when corpses reanimate with a hunger for human flesh. Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection follows the same basic plot. Both films have a black character named Ben.

And there the similarities end. Where Romero’s film is suspenseful, novel, and disturbing, the new film, billed as ‘a brand-new take on the horror classic!’, is plodding, familiar, and tedious. It’s unclear what the resurrection in the title refers to. If it’s the themes and characters from the original, they would have been better left to rest in peace, given their wretched treatment at the hands of director James Plumb and company.

Set in Wales, Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection begins with a group of young toughs threatening a man. Zombies break up the encounter. Ben, who is driving by, tries unsuccessfully to intercede. Several of the teens escape, to reenter the plot later. Ben then heads for a friend’s house via country roads, but runs out of gas. (Keep your cars full of petrol, Euro-preppers!) He is greeted very rudely at the farmhouse where he stops for help.

Meet Gerald’s family, three generations of very poor decision-makers with a fourth on the way, plus one unlucky son-in-law. Their feeble attempts to keep the mayhem outside at bay meet with the expected results.

Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection shows little ambition compared to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, which successfully locates its action in the context of the progressive social breakdown you’d expect to occur during a zombie plague, and captures the charged atmosphere of 1968 that had affected even the American heartland (the film was shot in and around Pittsburgh). In Night of the Living Dead, what happens in the farmhouse reflects in miniature what we see transpiring in the culture, captured in cleverly edited glimpses. Bickering and lack of leadership among the refugees lead to their downfall. Even familial bonds dissolve, among the living as well as the undead.

Following Romero’s lead, zombie films, at least the good ones, have tended toward social commentary ever since. It’s a dimension lacking in Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection, although Plumb dutifully includes some musings over the meaning of the plague. Ben listens to a radio broadcast in which a doctor compares zombification to Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease; and another reporting that the Westboro Baptist Church—inexplicably relocated from Topeka, Kansas, to west Wales—has blamed the outbreak on homosexuality. The grandfather chez Gerald provides the requisite Biblical lesson, reciting the day of judgment passage from the Book of Revelation to his uninterested granddaughters. Thinkers, Gerald’s clan are not.

These brief references are isolated, and don’t form the coherent social backdrop present in Night of the Living Dead. As the church reference suggests, Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection takes place not in Wales, or anywhere in particular, but rather in an international space of cultural references and film allusions. At one point Ben attempts to call his friend on his cell. “I’m coming to get you, Barbara,” he says, quoting a line from Night of the Living Dead. To make sure we get the allusion, Ben’s phone screen briefly displays a publicity still from Romero’s film. (What does this mean in the context of the new film? Has Ben recently screened the 1968 classic and enjoyed it so much he made the movie poster his smart phone wallpaper? The uncanny similarities with his own life half a century and half a world away that the film depicts would help explain his agitated state.)

Admittedly, it must be difficult to achieve originality in the middle of the zombie film boom. Depicting the end of the world in general is very popular right now. ‘Apocalypse is trending’, as Gerald’s youngest daughter Mandy (Mel Stevens) says, checking her phone for news of what’s happening beyond the farmhouse—the only moment of wit in the entire film.

Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection is a messy agglomeration of conventions and references—cinematic viscera, if you will—mindlessly pulled from the horror film archive and chewed into a mess.

A note in the credits promises that Night of the Living Dead: Revelations is coming. I’m not holding my breath.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.