Just like Madonna and Cher need go by only one name among music fans, today’s Lady of Horror May-hem is a one-name wonder in her own right. She is Barbara, the reluctant heroine of that fateful Night of the Living Dead.
I’m not going to say a whole lot about Barbara, as portrayed in the 1990 Tom Savini remake by actress/stuntwoman Patricia Tallman. If you’ve been a regular visitor here at the lair, then you already know my deep love for both this remake and for Tallman. In fact, I’ve previously written of this movie reinvention of this character:
…it dramatically improves upon the character of Barbara, giving her far more modern sensibilities and turning her into a right and proper bad-ass. I’m not saying the remake makes her a better character, but it makes her a character I’d follow into the zombie apocalypse.
Indeed, in ways similar to how The Blob remake altered the original movie, in part, by switching up the hero to feisty young heroine Meg Penny, Savini’s NOTLD remake completely alters the flow of the original movie by reversing course for the originally weak, hysterical Barbara. Just as she sheds the mousy plainness of her physical attire for the practical fighting gear of boots and denim and weapons, so does Barbara shed her weeping and binding fear for a primal, detached drive for survival at all cost. This Barbara will not lie down and be dinner tartare for the zombie jamboree, and the more she witnesses of the undead’s atrocities, the more steadied her resolve becomes.
Yes, they’re still coming to get Barbara…but this time, they’re going to get way more than they bargained for…
“They’re coming to get you, Beverly…”
That would have been an interesting take on the whole Night of the Living Dead story, eh? Or what if both Crushers turned into brain-slurping zombies? We’ve already witnessed Dr. Crusher consuming Commander Riker’s brain through a straw, so obviously she’s got a bit of those dirty, dirty zombie cravings going on inside. And Wesley is her son…it’s just a matter of time before genetics caught up with him…
Of course, there already is an unofficial “Trek” take on this movie, thanks to Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of Romero’s original zombie tale. The remake stars Tony Todd, most famous to Trek fans as Worf’s brother Kurn (as well as famous to horror movie fans as the Candyman himself), and Patricia Tallman who…wait for it, denizens…was Gates McFadden’s stunt double. Remember the scene in Generations when Data pushes Dr. Crusher off the side of the sailing ship on the holodeck? That was Patricia Tallman going over the side. She was also McFadden’s double during the series run. She also doubled Nana Visitor, Michelle Forbes, Gwynyth Walsh, Louise Fletcher…let’s just say she doubled a lot of the Trek actresses. She also appeared as various characters throughout the run of TNG, DS9, and Voyager.
I very rarely say nice things about remakes, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for Savini’s NOTLD remake, mostly for the Trek influence but also because it’s a gooey, fun take on Romero’s original. Is it better in color than in black and white? That’s up for debate, I suppose. Is it better with Candyman and the Trek Stunt Actress Supreme? Uh. Yeah.
Oh, and because I know you want to see this, here’s what the official Night of the Living Crushers T-shirt design would look like. You know, this is the second Doctober posting that I wouldn’t mind seeing on a T-shirt…