We have seen numerous reboots, remakes and rip-offs of George A. Romero's seminal horror classic Night of the Living Dead over the years, but the granddaddy of zombie movies is about to gain itself a whole new audience as a newly adapted, animated movie. The Hollywood Reporter announced the new Warner Bros. project, which will bring the director's iconic movie to screens in a way never seen before in Night of the Animated Dead.
The news came with a list of the voice cast for Night of the Animated Dead who will be having some bloody fun behind a microphone. The cast includes Josh Duhamel as Harry Cooper, Dulé Hill as Ben, Katharine Isabelle as Barbara, James Roday Rodriguez as Tom, Katee Sackhoff as Judy, Will Sasso as Sheriff McClelland, Jimmi Simpson as Johnny, and Nancy Travis as Helen Cooper. The kind of animation that will be used is unknown, but based on the recent trend it is likely to be a semi-anime style that is popular at the moment. One thing we do know is that it will not hold back on the violence. Bloody Disgusting reported back in May that the movie had been given an "R" rating for "bloody/gruesome zombie violence". Well who isn't up for a bit of that every now and again?
The movie is directed by Jason Axinn who is no stranger to horror animation, having worked on To Your Last Death. Michael J Luisi, Ralph E. Portillo, Robert Feldman, and Kevin Kasha work to produce along with Richard Potter, Thomas DeFeo and Jamie Elliott executive producing. Reports suggest the movie will be distributed on home media and via streaming platforms by Warner Bros. Entertainment later in the year, but no exact date has been released so far.
Night of the Living Dead is one of the few truly iconic movies that was allowed to lapse into the public domain, opening up the film to anyone who wanted to remake or reinterpret its content in their own way. Over the last five decades, this has included a 1990's remake, which was directed by horror legend, Tom Savini, and had Romero's involvement as producer and scriptwriter, a 2006 remake and prequel and some other animated stories set within Romero's world such as 2015's Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn.
While the movie itself is available to be exploited by anyone, the ownership of the title has its own interesting story that led to the birth of another well-known schlock horror franchise. The script for Night of the Living Dead was a collaboration between Romero and John Russo. When the pair parted ways, they spilt the ownership rights in a very particular way; Romero gained the rights to make sequels to the original movie, which he would do with Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead and other later additions such as Land of the Dead, while Russo retained the right to use "Living Dead". This split led to the creation of The Return of the Living Dead in 1985 and its sequels, which were not as serious as Romero's Living Dead movies. They did ,however, pay homage to them by mentioning Night of the Living Dead in the context of being a real event that had happened in the film's world and a movie that the characters were aware of.
While it will be good to see a new take on the classic horror, whether the end product hits the right chord with fans is always up in the air until the movie actually arrives later this year.