The concept behind “Night of the Living Dead (Remix)” is so far left of the norm that the end result will go one way or the other. Well, that was what was going through my head arriving at the impressive Leeds Playhouse for the first night of a three-week run of a production which pays an unusual tribute to George A. Romero’s cult horror flick.
The concept? To recreate the horror favourite scene by scene using only a small cast, bunch of props and some inventive camera work. The end result? Well, hats off to Leeds based group, Imitating The Dog, for creating something that was just utterly brilliant. Essentially a live movie set, the set-up involves two screens suspended above the stage, one playing the original movie, one showing the cast acting out the scenes. As was my concern heading into this, given the live nature of the production, the fact that the team were acting out approximately a thousand scenes and doing so side-by-side with the original, this could have been an absolutely disaster.
Instead, and credit goes to the impressive cast, this was a horror show of the best kind. Recreating Romero’s horror classic, the cast did so in an almost flawless fashion. Sure, there were some glitches here and there but, for the best part of ninety minutes, this was breathtaking to watch. From political footage of JFK, Vietnam and Martin Luther King to the use of hand drawn sets, Imitating The Dog hook you in from the opening moments when it soon sinks in as to how this is going to play out.
Like the original, the production is done on a budget but, thanks to some impressive and inventive camera angles, you soon forget that the cast are acting this out in front of you. Playing out side by side with the original, the delivery is flawless, the use of puppets is wonderfully tacky like the best horror B-Movies and the use of political and racial footage adds a serious note to proceedings.
When your attention does wander to the stage, you soon realise the effort and precision that is going into this recreation. Sure, watching the two screens running side-by-side above the stage shows an impressive end result but the real fun comes watching the cast racing around the stage faithfully recreating each scene. Alternating, sometimes chaotically, from being actors in a scene to filming to setting up props, this should be utter bedlam and could go badly wrong but, to their credit, they’re barely a second or two at most behind the film version.
Creating a tension almost as unbearable as the one Romero has created in the original, every moment of this is unmissable. The “gory” scenes are brilliantly put together, the production matches the budget level of the film and the end result is a raging success on every level. If you like your B-movie cult horror movies or you’re a fan of something a bit different, Night Of The Living Dead (Remix) will tick all your boxes while still leave you scratching your head wondering how they hell the small cast managed to pull it off so effortlessly.