Document of the Dead (1985)

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Released 10-May-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Trailer-Suspiria, Inseminoid, I Drink Your Blood
Trailer-Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 84:09 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Roy Frumkes
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Roy Frumkes
John Amplas
Carl Augenstein
Steve Bissette
David Emge
Ken Foree
Christine Forrest
Roy Frumkes
Michael Gornick
Joe Kane
Nicole Potter
Scott H. Reiniger
George A. Romero
Case ?
RPI Box Music Rick Ulfik


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

   In 1978, George A. Romero followed up his amazing Night of the Living Dead with Dawn of the Dead, a horror sequel set in a shopping mall using zombies as a metaphor for consumerism, amongst other things. Documentary filmmaker Roy Frumkes was there, taping behind the scenes to create Documentary of the Dead, a look behind the scenes at one of the horror legends and his intimate, unique way of filmmaking.

The documentary begins with a short discussion of Night of the Living Dead and its rise to fame, including the significance of shooting in Pittsburgh, before moving on to Dawn of the Dead and all of the stages of production. Divided into chapters on Preproduction, Production, Postproduction and Distribution, the documentary interviews Romero and various members of the cast and crew as they detail some of the issues and recount stories about filmmaking with Romero, as well as problems faced making films independently. Unfortunately, the documentary is scattershot, taking no particular focus, and subsequently fails to really give any solid information about the process of making the movies, nor the people behind the camera.

The final half-hour of the film, for example, includes discussion with Romero 10 years after the film, while he's working on another piece with Dario Argento, which leads to a lengthy examination of the difficulty of creating a particularly nifty, ghastly impalement injury that has to be reshot three times. Mixed in with this is interviews with Romero's wife, Christine Romero, who talks about issues with casting, and special effects / make-up guru Tom Savini, who discusses various incidents working with Romero. Individually, these are interesting pieces of information, but they're put together in a way that has no coherency or common thread. Overall, Document of the Dead is an enjoyable companion piece to Romero's Dead Trilogy, and it seems that it is mostly released as supplementary material for Dawn of the Dead, where it fits as another featurette on how the classic was made. But by itself, it cannot stand up as a great documentary.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

   This is a decent transfer that is unfortunately held back by its low budget, and the many different types of footage used to create it. It suffers from frequent issues with film artefacts such as constant scratches, alongside issues with interlacing, motion blur and a lot of grain.

   The black levels are awful, with very little detail in the blacks and no detail in shadow at all. Low level noise is present often in dark scenes. Keep in mind, however, that this is a documentary from 1985 that has not been in any way restored with the intention of being screened in a home theatre, rather it's a featurette-style piece, and is of low quality. As it isn't intended to be state of the art, these issues, despite being problematic, do not really detract from the viewing experience.

   There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

   The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)

   Essentially a mono-mix spread across the two speakers, this is a very simple no-frills mix that is completely audible but never thrilling. The dialogue in all interviews is at a good level and always in sync, and the music is well mixed to deliver what is expected without issue.

   There's no surround or subwoofer usage, but as before, that isn't the intent. This is, essentially, a glorified DVD extra.

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

Extras

Umbrella Trailers - Suspiria, Inseminoid, I Drink Your Blood, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

   Theatrical trailers for more Umbrella releases, these are exactly what you'd expect, in 1.33:1.

R4 vs R1

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

   As far as I can tell, this is identical to the version found on many of the R1 releases of the Dawn of the Dead DVD. Where to buy it depends ultimately on what options you have in regards to purchasing it separately, or getting it in one of the sets with Dawn of the Dead - as our disc features all of the drawbacks of the NTSC transfer despite being in PAL, I'd recommend whichever is cheapest.

Summary

   Document of the Dead is a glorified DVD extra. It is watchable and interesting for the Romero fan, but not essential.

   The video and audio is satisfactory.

   The disc is barebones.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLG
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

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