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Night Of The Animated Dead - What We Know So Far

The impact George A. Romero had on horror cannot be overstated. Before 1968's "Night of the Living Dead," zombies weren't flesh-eating ghouls; they were highly racialized, mystical monsters. Less fun, less easy to map social issues onto, less scary. But Romero changed that. In his movies, the dead stood for unthinking adherence to American social norms, consumerism run amok, the military industrial complex, and even the 99 percent. They were also scary as heck, an ever-present existential threat looming just off-frame for most of the movie. Then, when viewers let their guard down, the zombies swarm.

"Night of the Living Dead" inspired Romero's "Dead" franchise, as well as his co-writer John Russo's "Return of the Living Dead" series. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is taking the '68 classic and giving it an animated spin, per the Hollywood Reporter. "Night of the Animated Dead" will take the OG zombie flick and reimagine it for cartoons. "Night" has already been remade once, by "Dawn of the Dead" makeup artist Tom Savini in 1990. Here's what we know about the latest take on the living dead.

When is Night of the Animated Dead coming out?

According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Night of the Animated Dead" is releasing in the fall of 2021. The film will be released on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital formats. As this is a production by Warner Bros. Home Video, a theatrical or streaming release is not part of the plan.

Warner Bros. makes a lot of animation for the home release market. Also coming out in fall 2021 is "Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo meets Courage the Cowardly Dog," per SyFy Wire. The 72-minute film mashes up the "Scooby-Doo" universe with that of "Courage the Cowardly Dog." You're getting two scared puppies for the price of one, although there won't be any flesh-eating involving Scooby-Doo or Courage.

For those wanting a theatrical zombie experience, THR is reporting that Romero's widow, Suzanne Romero, is working on a film that concludes Romero's "Dead" series. "Twilight of the Dead" would answer the question, "Where do the zombies go at the end of 'Land of the Dead?'"

Who is in the cast of Night of the Animated Dead?

THR has a full cast list for who is lending their voices to "Night of the Animated Dead." In the role of level-headed Ben, we have Dulé Hill, known for "Psych" and "The West Wing." Hill's "Psych" co-star James Roday Rodriguez will play Tom, and "Battlestar Galactica" star Katee Sackhoff will play his girlfriend, Judy.

Josh Duhamel ("Las Vegas") will play Harry Cooper, with Nancy Travis ("The Kominsky Method") as his wife Helen. Katharine Isabelle ("Ginger Snaps") will play Barbara. Jimmi Simpson of "Westworld" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" fame will play Johnny, and Will Sasso (the Farrelly brothers' "The Three Stooges," "MadTV") will play Sheriff McClelland.

The cast is evenly split between folks who are famous for comedy (Hill, Rodriguez, Sasso) and stars of cult film and TV genre fare (Sackhoff, Isabelle). Although many comedians can play straight when they need to, it wouldn't be surprising if "Night of the Animated Dead" contains some dry comic elements.

What is the plot of Night of the Animated Dead?

We know the plot of the original 1968 "Night of the Living Dead," as well as how the 1990 remake differs. The '68 "Night" is legendary for its sour estimation of humanity and its chances of survival (or whether we even deserve to survive as a species). The story starts with Barbara and her brother Johnny visiting a cemetery. There, they are attacked by the first wave of living dead. Barbara escapes and holes up in a farmhouse with the Coopers: Ben, Tom, and Judy. Barbara goes catatonic, and infighting between the survivors damns them.

The '68 version sees Ben survive the night of zombies, only to be shot by zombie hunters in the morning. It's an ending that has only become more resonant in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. The '90 remake centers more on Barbara, who eventually snaps out of her fugue state to take control of the situation in a second wave feminist way. We can only guess at how the animated version will adapt to our current social and political moment.