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Jason Axinn
Katharine Isabelle, Dulé Hill, Josh Duhamel
Writing Credits:
John A. Russo

Strangers band together in a farmhouse to stave off a zombie attack.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
German Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 71 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 10/5/2021

• “Animating the Dead” Featurette


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Night of the Animated Dead [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 28, 2021)

1968’s Night of the Living Dead remains arguably the most influential zombie movie at all time. The tale gets a modern remake via 2021’s cartoon Night of the Animated Dead.

At their mother’s request, adult siblings Johnny (voiced by Jimmi Simpson) and Barbara (Katharine Isabelle) go out of their way to put a memorial on their father’s grave. A strange man attacks them in the cemetery, and it turns out he’s a zombie.

Johnny gets knocked unconscious in the melee and Barbara runs for it. She locks herself into the car but the zombie still comes after her.

Before long, Barbara escapes and runs to a house she sees. She makes it inside but the zombie still chases after her along with another one.

Ben (Dulé Hill) soon comes in for refuge as well and tries to get her to defend the place. Along with others who arrive, this sets up a battle for survival.

If you look back at my review of the 1968 Night, you’ll see that I recycled that movie’s plot summary here. I did so not just due to laziness – though that’s a factor – but more because the 2021 Night offers a literal remake.

How literal? The 2021 Night works from John A. Russo’s original 1968 screenplay and doesn’t attempt to adapt the material in that way.

This leads to the big question: why bother to make such a literal retelling of the 1968 flick? That one earned a well-deserved status as a classic, so if one wants to do it again, why not take some liberties?

Of course, the use of animation rather than live-action footage acts as a “liberty”, and the 2021 version does offer a visual depiction of some elements only discussed in the 1968 flick. For instance, we see Ben’s flashback rather than just hear it.

Nonetheless, the new Night really does feel more like a recreation than an adaptation. We get more overt gore – and it’s in color – but otherwise the two seem awfully similar.

This makes the 2021 Night seem utterly pointless. It usually feels like a mistake to remake a classic, but if one chooses to do so, one should find a new spin.

The 2021 Night fails to do that – again, unless color/gore equal “new spin”. I don’t view them that way, as they feel like windowdressing.

The update offers a stiff rendition that lacks even the slightest hint of suspense or terror. While the original movie offered a deep sense of dread and fear, the remake just comes across as dull and bland.

It doesn’t help that we find ugly design choices. The characters look like clip art, and they fail to blend at all with the painted backgrounds.

The animation seems clunky as clunky can be. I get the impression the movie enjoyed a budget of roughly $27 for animation, as these elements seem awfully clumsy and awkward.

Not that superior animation would’ve saved this misbegotten project, as even Pinocchio level work wouldn’t have redeemed such a perplexing remake. Maybe someone will find a redeeming factor here, but I think the animated Night offers a poorly made product.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Night of the Animated Dead appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a good but not great presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed satisfactory. A littler softness hit the occasional wider shot, but most of the image offered appealing delineation – within the limits of the bargain basement animation, at least.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws failed to materialize.

Colors tended toward earthy tones, and these came across well. The Blu-ray reproduced the hues in a strong manner.

Blacks felt deep and dense, but shadows could seem a bit too dense. The image satisfied, even if it didn’t excel.

Similar thoughts greeted the more than competent DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as it suited the project. This meant a soundscape that leaned toward the creepy horror side of the street.

Most of the soundfield emphasized music and general atmosphere, and these gave the movie the requisite sense of setting. A few more action-oriented scenes broadened the mix in an appropriate manner.

Audio quality worked well, with speech that sounded natural and concise. Music appeared vivid and bold.

Effects seemed accurate and full, with good low-end. The soundfield lacked great ambition but the mix still felt right for the film.

Animating the Dead runs nine minutes, 46 seconds and brings comments from director Jason Axinn, producer Michael J. Luisi and actors Josh Duhamel, Dulé Hill, and Will Sasso.

The featurette looks at the adaptation of the source, set and character design, cast and performances, and related matters. A few decent notes emerge, but most of “Animating” feels promotional and thin.

If you want to see an inferior remake of a classic horror flick, go for Night of the Animated Dead. If you want to view a compelling version of this story, stay away from this pointless product. The Blu-ray offers good picture and audio but it skimps on bonus materials. Even as a curiosity, this becomes a waste of time.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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