Night of the Living Dead (Umbrella) (1968)
Featurette-Reflections On The Living Dead
Trailer-Black Sunday, Deep Red, Devil Doll, Blood On Satan's Claw
|Year Of Production||1968|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||George A. Romero|
S. William Hinzman
Bill 'Chilly Billy' Cardille
|RPI||Box||Music||Scott Vladimir Licina|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
Siblings Barbra (Judith O'Dea) and Johnny (Russell Streiner) visit a Pennsylvania cemetery to place a wreath on their father's grave, but are attacked by a lifeless tall, pale man, who murders Johnny, leaving a screaming Barbra running into the night. She escapes to an abandoned house, and when stranger Ben (Duane Jones) finds her, it soon becomes clear that all around America the dead are returning to life to attack the living. Barricaded inside the house with a young couple and a family, and with little communication to the outside world, these strangers must fight to survive the onslaught that is the Night of the Living Dead.
Beyond the sociological issues and themes always mentioned in reviews of this film, there's a lot of particularly interesting things rarely discussed. For one, having a black character as the protagonist is unusual, and still seems unusual today, despite how far we've come and the fact that Romero et al. only hired him because he was the best actor they could get on their budget. (Jones is superb, by the way.) The nihilism and gruesomeness of the film is also raw, with the nasty corpse close-ups, the lengthy eating of two major characters, and the final scenes involving the child murdering her parents are all indeed unsettling, which is unexpected for a film of the era. (Next decade's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is renowned for gruesomeness even though it features very little, particularly compared to this.) But none of it is exploitative or gratuitous, it all serves the plot and delivers the expected impact. The effects and soundtrack are all excellent, as are the slowly rotting zombies that appear human at first and get considerably nastier as the film goes on.
This is simply a fantastic film, a classic that lives up to the title. I don't want to say too much about it - if you have not seen it and you're a horror buff, you owe it to yourself to see it.
This is an excellent transfer, although not flawless, it definitely does the source material justice. It's a very strong, detailed video transfer of the film, retaining sharpness across the entire film as well as keeping high levels of detail in all scenes, including darkness. The only better version I have come across is the restored 30th Anniversary Edition, which is a terrible cut of the film and really only slightly better than this, with a slightly sharper transfer.
There are some film artefacts, usually around scene changes where the original negative was scratched (one example is at 36:25). Otherwise, the film is very clear, with only a few interlacing issues that don't distract from viewing (see 51:20). I am extremely impressed, and glad this is the way I got to view this classic for the first time.
There are no subtitles.
Like the video, the audio is a very strong mix that, despite lacking surround, is full of life and atmosphere. The phenomenal soundtrack sounds wonderful here, and fits alongside all the lovely zombie moans and lurches and eating.
The dialogue is all perfectly synced and audible, never missing a beat. Everything works together and sounds fantastic, despite the simplicity and age of the film. I know the age of the film shouldn't make any difference, but consider how good this film sounds and looks compared to something state-of-the-art that was made recently and ended up on a terrible DVD, like War of the Worlds - incredible.
|Surround Channel Use|
I must make additional mention here not to buy the aforementioned 30th Anniversary Edition DVD of the film, which despite including a slightly better transfer, has 15 horrible minutes of horrible new footage shot in the horrible 1990's and not by Romero, as well as a horrible new score that could bring the dead back to life. Never, ever buy this. It is sacrilege.
The video and audio are excellent.
Although there are few extras, the main event is a feature length documentary that fans will find worth the asking price.
|DVD||LG LH-D6230, using Component output|
|Display||Benq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Speakers||B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)|