Overall | Night of the Living Dead (Umbrella) (1968) | Dawn of the Dead (Umbrella) (1978) | Day of the Dead (Umbrella) (1985) | Document of the Dead (1985)

Trilogy of the Dead (George A. Romero's) (1968)

Trilogy of the Dead (George A. Romero's) (1968)

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Released 10-May-2006

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Overall Package

    This is an absolutely superb DVD package of one of the greatest film trilogies of all time. George A. Romero's Trilogy of the Dead includes three of the most iconic and inspirational horror films ever made, each with a different style and subtextual theme than runs deep and still resonates today, decades after the original releases. The violence and effects remain potent and realistic, and the films themselves deserve their status as not just horror classics, but as film classics. Although these films are available individually in other regions with more special features and different cuts, this set includes a great range of special features as well as the original, director-preferred cuts of the films with great video and audio. I thoroughly recommend these phenomenal movies, and this fantastic set.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Night of the Living Dead (Umbrella) (1968) | Dawn of the Dead (Umbrella) (1978) | Day of the Dead (Umbrella) (1985) | Document of the Dead (1985)

Night of the Living Dead (Umbrella) (1968)

Night of the Living Dead (Umbrella) (1968)

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Released 10-May-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-Reflections On The Living Dead
TV Spots
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Black Sunday, Deep Red, Devil Doll, Blood On Satan's Claw
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1968
Running Time 96:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By George A. Romero
Studio
Distributor
Image Ten
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Duane Jones
Judith O'Dea
Karl Hardman
Marilyn Eastman
Keith Wayne
Judith Ridley
Kyra Schon
Charles Craig
S. William Hinzman
George Kosana
Frank Doak
Bill 'Chilly Billy' Cardille
A.C. McDonald
Case ?
RPI Box Music Scott Vladimir Licina


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 1.37:1 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

   George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead is a masterpiece. The grandaddy of all zombie films is the very best, a black-and-white independent horror film from 1968 that remains just as potent, important and intelligent as when it was first released.

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.

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Transfer Quality

Video

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

   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.

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)

   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.

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

Extras

Reflections of the Living Dead (80:00)

   An alternative to a commentary track, this exclusive feature-length documentary directed by Thomas Brown includes an ongoing discussion between four of the main players behind the film - George A. Romero, the co-writer and director; John A. Russo, the co-writer; Russell W. Streiner, the producer and actor playing "Johnny"; and Karl Hardman, the producer, makeup, sound and actor playing "Harry Cooper"- as well as exclusive footage and interviews with other people behind the classic. It begins talking about how the film came about, and then proceeds into production and post-production, also including interview footage with famous horror directors (Raimi, Craven and Carpenter are some) and some talks with the SFX gurus, the composer for the score, and others who had a part to play in creating this film. It's reasonably informative and entertaining, but for some reason the discussion with the creators of the film isn't as captivating as I'd like; like the commentary tracks seen on the other DVDs of this film, it's more like friends watching a home movie than filmmakers commenting on a feature. Still, there's lots of valuable information in here, and it'll appeal to fans and filmmakers alike. Presented in 1.33:1.

TV Spot (0:57) and Theatrical Trailer (1:47)

   The original TV spot and Theatrical Trailer for the film are unfortunately cheesy, reminiscent of the Ed Wood series of films, but are fun to watch for nostalgia. Particularly interesting is that the end of the TV spot uses a montage of stills in a way that is clever and unnerving, and yet unseen in today's trailers. The transfer here also isn't as nice as the actual film. In 1.33:1.

Umbrella Trailers - Blood on Satan's Claw (2:53), Black Sunday (3:25), Deep Red (2:43), Devil Doll (2:01)

   Theatrical trailers for more Umbrella releases, these are exactly what you'd expect. I'm very fond of the disgusting Deep Red trailer, which is lovingly violent and gives away nothing of the film's plot.

R4 vs R1

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

   Unfortunately, because this film is in the public domain there are so many DVD releases of it it's difficult to tell what to get. Although this release by Umbrella is very good, it cannot hold a candle to the R0 US Elite Entertainment "Millenium Edition" which includes two commentary tracks, a 5.1 audio track, and a variety of additional extras. However, that doesn't include the documentary we get on this disc, and has more of the image issues expected with NTSC transfers, including interlacing. Ultimately, though, the R0 wins out, with the audio and extras.

   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.

Summary

   Night of the Living Dead is an amazing movie, that gave birth to a subgenre of horror and has legions of imitators. It is the first entry in one of the greatest film trilogies ever.

   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.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Saturday, May 26, 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)
cut of film - Anonymous
darker blacks - Neil
new local Blu ray release - Anonymous

Overall | Night of the Living Dead (Umbrella) (1968) | Dawn of the Dead (Umbrella) (1978) | Day of the Dead (Umbrella) (1985) | Document of the Dead (1985)

Dawn of the Dead (Umbrella) (1978)

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? - AdamB
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.)

Overall | Night of the Living Dead (Umbrella) (1968) | Dawn of the Dead (Umbrella) (1978) | Day of the Dead (Umbrella) (1985) | Document of the Dead (1985)

Day of the Dead (Umbrella) (1985)

Day of the Dead (Umbrella) (1985)

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Released 10-May-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-Behind The Scenes
TV Spots-3
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer-3
Trailer-The Hills Have Eyes, The Crazies, Maniac
Trailer-Last House On The Left
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 101:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By George A. Romero
Studio
Distributor
United Film Distrib
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Lori Cardille
Terry Alexander
Joseph Pilato
Richard Liberty
Howard Sherman
Case ?
RPI Box Music John Harrison


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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

   A small group of survivors scour the streets in search of the living, but find only dead. The streets are lifeless, stalked by zombies who desire only flesh, leaving the towns derelict. The survivors give up their search, and travel back to their home below the surface, where a group of scientists work together to try and find a solution to the threat that has eradicated most of humanity. But they must also contend with a small, restless army, whose help has been invaluable to their cause but whose masculine rage builds as they continue to lose men to the undead threat while the scientists deliver little results. Tension builds and violence explodes in the ultimate fight for survival that is the Day of the Dead.

The final film in George A. Romero's brilliant, iconic Trilogy of the Dead (no, Land of the Dead does not count, or, to my mind, exist) is the brilliant, iconic Day of the Dead, a completely different beast to the previous films that examines the nature of humanity and the nature of masculine rage, untamed in both human and zombie. An incredibly smart and unusual horror film, it tones down its violence for the majority of the movie while it examines themes of male power and sexual jealousy, before delivering one of the most violent, explicit, effective and realistic gore-packed half hours ever seen on film.

The acting and plot are first rate, and even those who don't care about intelligence in their horror films - particularly zombie films - can celebrate at the incredible rawness of this film, which delivers scene after scene of ghastly horror. Comparing the tepid, bland Land of the Dead, with all of its enhanced CG and megabudget with the violence in this film is like comparing Play School to The Flower of Flesh and Blood - the violence is so graphic and real and observed (the camera never shies away as people we care apart are pulled to pieces) that is has wonderful impact, and never feels over-the-top or cartoonish.

Once again, I'm staying away from discussing too much of what makes this film great; film fans owe it to themselves to see this entire, fantastic trilogy. Even beyond the horror genre, these are fascinating, timeless and powerful films. Interestingly, this is Romero's favourite of the series, despite it often being overlooked in light of the former two, which is really a shame - Day of the Dead is absolutely superb.

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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 begins looking the worst of the trio, with lack of darkness detail and lots of noise (see 11:36) going hand-in-hand with ugly interlacing and grain issues, but soon pans out to look fantastic after the characters go below the surface.

   The gritty, grimy colours are fantastic, and there's high levels of detail in the darkness from about 1/3 of the way in until the end, particularly focusing on the lengthy flee-through-the-dark sequence (which, unfortunately, does contain some low level noise, but it isn't too distracting for the amount of detail). A lack of film artefacts, surprising for a somewhat aged film, and consistently strong detail throughout enhance this viewing experience. You'll be amazed at how good the entrails look.

   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).

   This is a well mixed though no-frills audio track; the soundtrack, sound effects and dialogue are all clear and audible and the film is extremely effective as is, though I can't deny that surround might have increased the atmosphere even more. However, it isn't required.

   The music is much more profound and intense than both of the previous films, partially from experience (from Night of the Living Dead, Romero has grown as a filmmaker, as has his crew), but partially because the tone is so different (the cartoonish elements of Dawn of the Dead are lost with this extremely gritty, nihilistic approach to the material) and it works a treat. The sound is great: simple, but effective.

   The dialogue is kept at good levels, and the ambience of the dialogue itself changes the experience and further adds to the atmosphere - the sounds of speech change from setting to setting, and never suffer from sync problems. All in all, the audio track is fine, sufficient for a stereo mix, but without anything extra to speak of.

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

Extras

Behind the Scenes (30:52)

   Although this featurette runs longer than the average DVD making-of, it feels short changed compared to the lengthy Dawn of the Dead docos, and doesn't include as much information as I'd like about the film. There's discussion with cast and crew, including a looks at special effects gore and make up, but not a lot else. There's a lack of Romero here, and barely any other discussion about the making of the film. Basically only for die hard fans, and I feel they'll be disappointed like I was. In very weathered VHS-quality 1.33:1.

TV Spots (1:33)

   Three TV Spots advertising the film, these are exactly what you'd expect, in 1.33:1.

Stills Gallery

   I'm usually not too fond of Picture Galleries on DVDs, but there's a LOT of interesting pictures here, everything from behind the scenes to zombie effects to continuity stills. They're not high res, but they're worth a look.

Theatrical Trailers (1:58, 2:03, 1:09)

   These three theatrical trailers are presented in the original aspect ratio 1.78:1 and look splendid, despite being nothing special. The second trailer, in which zombies are watching the trailer with the rest of the audience, who then disappear, is cute, but completely lacking the tone of the film. The final trailer is basically just a teaser, though I like the idea that this is the "most eagerly awaited film in film history".

Umbrella Trailers - The Hills Have Eyes (2:40), The Crazies (2:54), Maniac (3:46), Last House On The Left

   Promotional material for more Umbrella releases, these are exactly what you'd expect.

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 Anchor Bay Divimax special edition of Day of the Dead is the very best DVD package available. With two discs featuring much better special features, commentaries and a DTS track, this stands out above the other R1 and R4 releases available. Though the R0 Arrow Films edition from the UK also includes a lot of these additional features and a lovely PAL transfer to boot, but it lacks the 5.1 DTS audio and has different commentary tracks. R1 is the indisputable winner.

Summary

   Day of the Dead is a stunning conclusion to one of the greatest film trilogies ever made.

   The video is above average, getting better as the film goes on.

   The audio is simple but effective.

   Unfortunately, there are few extras.

This underrated gem is one of my favourite horror movies, and a fitting conclusion to Romero's Trilogy of the Dead.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Tuesday, May 29, 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)
Excellent example of how a better DVD improves one's impression of the film - Anonymous
This version... - Paul Ryan REPLY POSTED
The 2-Disc Version - Paul Ryan
New local Blu ray Release - Anonymous REPLY POSTED

Overall | Night of the Living Dead (Umbrella) (1968) | Dawn of the Dead (Umbrella) (1978) | Day of the Dead (Umbrella) (1985) | Document of the Dead (1985)

Document of the Dead (1985)

Document of the Dead (1985)

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Released 10-May-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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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

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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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