Dawn of the Dead (Umbrella) (1978)

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Released 10-May-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-George A. Romero, Tom Savini And Chris Romero
Audio Commentary-Richard P. Rubinstein (Producer)
Featurette-The Dead Will Walk
Gallery-Photo-Montage
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-2
Notes-Original Reviews
Radio Spots
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 127:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By George A. Romero
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring David Emge
Ken Foree
Scott H. Reiniger
Gaylen Ross
David Crawford
David Early
Richard France
Howard Smith
Daniel Dietrich
Fred Baker
James A. Baffico
Rod Stouffer
Jesse Del Gre
Case ?
RPI Box Music Dario Argento
Goblin
Agostino Marangolo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.

   George A. Romero's follow-up to his brilliant Night of the Living Dead is the brilliant Dawn of the Dead, a semi-remake of the first film set in an enormous shopping mall in which four survivors of the zombie-apocalypse settle to stock up. Trading the desolation and anxiety of the first film for a more over-the-top, saturated style, Romero finds subtext in his zombies flocking to the abandoned mall where the protagonists hide: the brainless succumbing to consumerism and the protagonists finding that the real enemy is not the brainless minions, but the dark elements of humanity itself.

Much longer and less focused than the original film, Dawn of the Dead is a great twist on the same theme with an entirely different style, very clearly inspired by Dario Argento and Italian horror. The gore is much more over-the-top and less realistic, often cartoonish, which is well matched by the score done by Argento's The Goblins. Never are Romero's films brainless horror - they're always endowed with smart characters, clever situations and fantastic themes that run far below the surface, and always carry impact.

As with Night of the Living Dead, I'd prefer to say as little about Dawn of the Dead as possible in case people are yet to see it, except that it's an excellent entry into Romero's Trilogy of the Dead and a must-see horror film for genre fans.

I must note, though, that three versions of this film exist - the 139 min "Extended version", the 127 min “U.S. Theatrical Cut”, and the 118 min “Dario Argento Cut”. The version included here is Romero's preference, the U.S. Theatrical Cut, which is also my favourite. The major changes are that the original Extended Edition was slightly rushed for Cannes and includes more humor, but also more horror elements and an altered score, while the Argento cut is basically full on horror with some other changes. They're all available in the R1 Ultimate Edition, which completists will demand, but general fans can be satisfied that we're getting the director's original vision and final cut with this DVD set.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

   This is a very strong transfer that improves as the film continues. The colours are strong and vibrant, which is important as this is a very colourful film. The transfer isn't consistently sharp but is usually very detailed, except suffering from some darkness issues, in which detail is lacking but fortunately has no low level noise (see 18:13).

   There are occasional issues with interlacing, and sometimes cross colouration is an issue (see 21:49 for one example), however I believe that this is an issue with the film itself rather than the DVD as it is evident on other DVDs as well. There is very little grain and there are few film artefacts, that do not detract from the viewing.

   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 5.1 (224Kb/s) and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

   The two audio tracks unfortunately offer little difference despite a change in volume, with the surround usage being very limited and next to no utilization of the subwoofer. The dialogue is fine, mixed well and perfectly in sync, but the lack of rear speakers used for the music and effects - particularly in crowded scenes - means that the overall presentation lacks atmosphere.

   The film's soundtrack by The Goblins still sounds great, even if it isn't delivered perfectly, building up the scenes with heavy beats and emphasising all the over-the-top violence that the film lavishes on the audience.

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

Extras

Animated Menus with Audio

   Genuinely awesome DVD menus, each menu screen takes place in a set from the film, slowing fading in and out complete with the atmospheric music. Lovely and non-intrusive, these are very fitting for the film.

The Dead Will Walk (74:55)

   This feature length documentary features recent interviews with all the cast and crew and follows the film going through the entire process all the way up to release. It's a genuinely entertaining watch, and it's very interesting to hear all of the talents speak. It's a much better, more streamlined making-of feature than the Document of the Dead, which is strangely awarded its own DVD.

Photo Gallery (2:25)

   An alternative to the usual DVD photo gallery, this is a slideshow of various photos from the set, put to an excerpt of the film's soundtrack. It's much more interesting than I'd expected, with various shots behind the scenes as well as on camera, including Romero interacting with the cast. Presented in 1.78:1.

Biographies

   Still biographies of the main cast and director.

Commentary by George A. Romero, Tom Savini And Chris Romero

   This commentary track focuses on a lot of the content covered in the previous documentary but is still a great listen, with plenty of friendly banter between the three. It's entertaining and informative, and they even discuss the (then) upcoming Land of the Dead, which I feel should be forgotten at all costs. An alternative ending is discussed that I'd have loved to have seen in addition to the current, somewhat uneventful ending.

Commentary by Richard P. Rubinstein (Producer)

   A lot less entertaining than either the documentary or the other commentary, producer Richard Rubinstein discusses a lot of previously uncommented-upon information, including the three different versions of the film currently available. He also talks about Dario Argento's involvement, and various elements of production. Serves as very interesting for fans and film students wanting to find out even more about how this film was made, and what went into it.

US Trailer (2:37), German Trailer (0:58), Radio Spots (2:42)

   The promotional material here is interesting as a comparison across different territories and formats. The original US film trailer features the same aspect ratio as the film and very clearly shows uncensored parts of the film, whereas the German trailer is much more censored and limited, in only 1.33:1. The radio advertising uses almost exactly the same narration as the film trailer, and is much less interesting than the trailers.

Original Reviews

   9 pages of the original reviews for the film finish up the disc.

R4 vs R1

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

   There is absolutely no contest that the R1 Ultimate Edition of Dawn of the Dead is the very best DVD package available. In addition to a ton of additional extras, it features all three available cuts of the film, plus a 5.1 DTS track on the US Theatrical Cut, and both of the making-of documentaries. Though this Umbrella edition is the best available in R4, and perfect if you don't require every cut of the film, R1 is the indisputable winner.

Summary

   Dawn of the Dead is an excellent horror film.

   The video is the best we've ever seen for the film on DVD.

   The audio is not as good, but still makes for an enjoyable viewing experience regardless of stereo or full surround.

   When there is no more room in hell...

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Monday, May 28, 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)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Bit-rate? -
Different Release Date etc - Gizmo35 (The Biography ain't much to look at.) REPLY POSTED
Different Release Date etc - Gizmo35 (The Biography ain't much to look at.)