Dawn of the Dead: Director's Cut (2004)

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Released 11-Oct-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Introduction-Zack Snyder (Director)
Audio Commentary-Zack Snyder (Director) And Eric Newman (Producer)
Featurette-The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed
Featurette-Special Report: We Interrupt This Program!
Deleted Scenes-Undead Scenes, With Optional Commentary
Featurette-Raising The Dead
Featurette-Attack Of The Living Dead
Featurette-Splitting Headaches: Anatomy Of Exploding Heads
Trailer-Shaun Of The Dead
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 104:45
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:10) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Zack Snyder
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Sarah Polley
Ving Rhames
Jake Weber
Mekhi Phifer
Ty Burrell
Michael Kelly
Kevin Zegers
Michael Barry
Lindy Booth
Jayne Eastwood
Boyd Banks
Inna Korobkina
R.D. Reid
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Tree Adams
Tyler Bates


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Hungarian
Dutch
Hebrew
English Audio Commentary
Hungarian Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Hebrew Audio Commentary
Hungarian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, You must watch until the very, very end.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Dawn of the Dead is generally seen as one of the all-time classic horror movies - particularly in the Zombie sub-genre. George A. Romero made a killing for himself with his "Dead" trilogy (Night, Dawn and Day) and this is the 2004 remake of the second part of that gory trifecta. Fortunately, whilst the film has the same basic premise, it manages to add a whole series of plot twists which are not in the original. This should delight old and new fans alike - why just make a carbon copy of the original?

    Okay - so what's the basic premise? Well, an unknown disease is ravaging the planet. Once they have suffered a bite from an infected human, the victims rapidly waste away before dying a sudden death. Even more sudden is the re-animation of the corpses. Within 1-5 minutes after checking out, the corpses check back in with a maniacal blood lust that can only be sated by feasting on warm human flesh. The opening scenes of this movie are superb. The introduction of the zombies will have you on the edge of your seat, as they take place in an all-too-familiar everyday environment, giving an air of credibility to an incredible story. This is very much in the mould of the excellent 28 Days Later... and really sets the scene perfectly for the bedlam that follows. The only horror film I have seen recently which delivers such an impactful opening is the darkly delicious Final Destination 2. As the USA descends into hysteria and madness, with family members devouring each other willy-nilly, small groups of people huddle together and feverishly try to find refuge from the growing hordes of psychopathic zombies.

    Unlike your run-of-the-mill zombie of yore, these mothers don't shuffle aimlessly towards you - they run like the clappers and head directly for your jugular! A dwindling group of ever-more desperate fugitives from the zombie masses include a cop (Ving Rhames), a nurse who has just witnessed her neighbour's daughter rip her husband's throat out (Sarah Polley) and a man who is caring for his heavily pregnant wife (Mekhi Phifer). Gaining entry to a local mall, they are incarcerated by a bunch of paranoid, and power-crazed, security guards. Whilst initially they fully expect to be rescued by the armed forces, as the days pass by there is a growing realisation that there will be no saving "charge from the cavalry" and they will have to work together to fight their own way out of the mall. From the roof they spot a lone man, Andy (Bruce Bohne) on an opposing rooftop - fortunately directly above a gun shop. Communicating with binoculars and whiteboards, they strike up a friendship and determine to pool their food with Andy's guns and break out of their self-imposed prison...

    The pacing of the film slows a little during the middle third, becoming a little less tense and verging on the repetitive. This is only a relative observation however, because the opening minutes and the final reel are top-notch. The acting is credible throughout and even the dialogue has a refreshing touch of reality most of the time. There are a couple of weak plot points (a budding romance just does not make any sense given the recent history of the characters) and some of the scares are telegraphed too far in advance. The use of exploding gas bottles is a little - forgive the pun - overblown at times too (be careful - your barbie could take out a city block)! The editing too, can be a little frenetic at times, but this is a relatively minor peeve and can be forgiven when you consider the overall vibe of the picture. The casting is quite appropriate, with all of the main characters filling their roles rather well, and some interesting cameos to watch out for with the likes of Matt Frewer (Max Headroom anyone?) and horror royalty Tom Savini (Day of the Dead).

    Dawn of the Dead is a winner. It is by no means perfect - I thought there could have been more black humour in the mix - but it will not disappoint fans of the flesh-eating zombie genre. The film does contain a few jump-out-of-your-seat frights, but the flesh-eating is surprisingly a little under-done. That is not to say the film lacks gore - amputations and eviscerations do figure, but by and large your run-of-the-mill exploding head shot is the main course. This film has much more of an action component than the original, which was a straight up horror flick. In the true spirit of cheap horror flicks though, the obligatory gratuitous breast shots do still make an appearance. The make up special effects are superbly done and there appears to be a satisfying lack of (all too often painfully obvious) CGI on offer (bar the obligatory fireballs, and a couple of helicopter shots). In the main, this is a no-nonsense zombie-smashin', shotgun-blastin', action-horror fest. Perhaps not quite as chilling as the 1978 original, Dawn of the Dead: Director's Cut (2004) will delight fans nevertheless. Highly recommended for zombie aficionados everywhere. Oh - and by the way - it is essential that you watch until the ending of the closing credits as there is important plot information interspersed among them.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is generally very good, but is by no means perfect.

    The video is presented 16x9 enhanced at 2.35:1 which is the original theatrical aspect ratio. The transfer is generally quite sharp throughout, but there is some noticeable grain evident quite frequently, which serves to soften the image, particularly middle-distance shots, substantially at times.

    Unsurprisingly, given the subject matter of the film, there is plenty of low light shooting on offer. Unfortunately, whilst the overall contrast of the film is very high with very deep black levels and blindingly bright whites, the shadow detail is frequently rather limited. This results in significant loss of detail at times, with the almost impenetrable blackness becoming mildly annoying on occasion. Colours are very solidly rendered, bright and vivid throughout, with a satisfying saturation to the blood-reds. The film has a frequent "Matrix-like" green caste present - I am sure this is the deliberate intention of the director and not an error with the transfer. There is no colour bleeding evident. Skin tones look great throughout.

    I noticed no major MPEG compression artefacts in the transfer. There is some significant edge enhancement present (most visible as a halo around dark clothing), and this can be mildly annoying on a large projected image. Whilst my (progressive scan) set-up minimises aliasing, there is still a noticeable shimmer in the image at times. On an interlaced system this could become mildly distracting. I noticed no issues with telecine wobble.

    Film artefacts are present only very occasionally (as black specks), but are always fleeting and never become a source of annoyance.

    The English subtitles are quite good, with only minor edits and they provide attribution for off-screen dialogue, frequent audio cues and song lyrics.

    This disc is single sided and dual layered (RSDL) with the layer change cropping up briefly at 78:10, on board the bus. It is noticeable but not overly disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is very good indeed, with a massively powerful feel.

    The main English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 384 kbps. It is highly enveloping and powerful with a very wide dynamic range. The dialogue is never obliterated by the impressive percussive sound effects and I noticed no lapses in audio sync.

    The music is just great! Starting with a number from Johnny Cash, there are some quite cheekily used tunes present (Don't Worry, Be Happy is wittily playing in muzak format at the mall), including a stunningly funny tune called Down With The Sickness performed by Disturbed. The original score is attributed to Tyler Bates (Get Carter and Rated X) and does a good job throughout the flick. The orchestral work is nicely interspersed with the humorous pop songs and the two meld together with the superb sound effects to deliver a most satisfying audio experience. The shrieks of the zombies as they run hell-for-leather across the screen will send a shiver down your spine!

    The front soundstage is nicely rendered with the dialogue well anchored in the centre channel. The main speakers are very well used to provide a great degree of separation across the front of the room. There are also some nice pans across the front speakers, for instance from helicopters and road traffic as well as the zombies. Nice stuff.

    The surround speakers are well used to provide an immersive and scary soundstage. Numerous ambient effects are complemented by some quite powerful rear audio presence, with zombies screaming, engines revving and explosions...err...exploding all around you. There are many localised sound effects, decent front-to-rear pans and the like - this is a great horror soundstage.

    The subwoofer sees some very significant use throughout to support the bassy musical score and the numerous visceral explosions and gunshots. There is a pleasing degree of true LFE on offer, and this soundtrack will make you glad you bought a decent subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are several extras here and they add genuine value to the disc.

Menu

    The main menu is a scary affair with hands clawing at the screen, accompanied by a short loop from the score. It allows the options of playing the movie, choosing one of twenty chapter stops, language and subtitle selection and access to the following bonus features:

Director's Introduction

    Presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps this runs for 1:16. Zack Snyder gives a brief introduction to this Director's Cut. It contains extra gore and several minutes of footage not shown in theatres due to ratings issues.

Audio Commentary

    This is a fun and informative track featuring the director (Zack Snyder) and producer (Eric Newman) that is definitely worth a listen. I'm not a fan of these things, but I enjoyed the relaxed ambience and level of background information on offer.

The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed

    In a cute extra running for 16:25, Andy is shown on home video camera as the events in the film unfold outside. The DV presentation is a little jarring after the filmic feel of the main movie, but it is worth a watch nonetheless. It is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Special Report: We Interrupt This Program!

    What starts out as a promising news commentary around the unfolding zombie plague soon turns into a hammy affair - albeit with some nice effects. Running for an over-long 21:06, and once again shot on DV it looks a little incongruous. It is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Undead Scenes

    A collection of deleted scenes, available with a commentary from the director, and running for 11:29. The clips are presented letterboxed (not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. They make for an interesting watch - particularly with the audio commentary active.

Raising the Dead

    Running for 7:55 this is a lively look at the make-up effects used in the movie. Much better than the average EPK documentary, it is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Attack of the Living Dead

    Running for 7:25 this is an interesting look at the stunts and make-up used in the movie. Again, more interesting than the average EPK documentary, it is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads

    A fabulously gory and informative segment running for 5:38. This shows the multiple ways head-hits are created in the movie. Gooey, ooky and freaky fun! It is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Shaun Of The Dead Trailer

    Presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps this runs for 1:41 - this looks bloody hilarious.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of this film appears to be in an essentially identical format to our own, and is also separately available in a full screen theatrical version which misses out on the three special-effects featurettes. Buy whichever widescreen edition can be found for less.

Summary

    Dawn of the Dead: Director's Cut (2004) is a scary, action-packed revisitation of the George A. Romero flick from 1978. A disease, spread by the bite of infected humans, is turning victims into zombies. As it sweeps across the world, a band of survivors huddle together in a shopping mall in a desperate attempt to stay alive. Possibly less horrific and certainly more action based than the original, it is a very nice homage with some significant plot enhancements. The effects are great, the sound is awesome and overall this will delight fans of the zombie sub-genre. Bloody good, bloody fun and bloody well recommended for fans of the original - as well as newcomers.

    The video quality is very good but does have some aliasing and edge enhancement present.

    The audio transfer is great. It is highly immersive with a wide dynamic range and plenty of explosions to keep the subwoofer gainfully employed.

    The extras are reasonable extensive, and the effects featurettes are really well worth watching. The director's commentary track is more interesting than average.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Saturday, October 02, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

Other Reviews
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Comments (Add)
No surviving the dawn featurette??????? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Surviving The Dead info - The BoB-Fish REPLY POSTED
Typo ^ - Anonymous
slight error - vannostrom REPLY POSTED
Re: No surviving the dawn featurette??????? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Shaun of the Dead - Mick REPLY POSTED
DVD Cover - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
RE: DVD Cover - oogi2000
R2 Japan is easily the best disc, also R1 DC is still slightly censored - Anonymous