Night of the Living Dead: 40th Anniversary Edition (1968)
Audio Commentary-with the crew
Audio Commentary-with the cast
Featurette-One For the Fire: Feature length documentary
Interviews-Cast-The last interview with actor Duane Jones
|Year Of Production||1968|
|Running Time||92:32 (Case: 96)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Audio Format Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||George A. Romero|
Beyond Home Entertainment
S. William Hinzman
Bill 'Chilly Billy' Cardille
|RPI||$29.95||Music||Scott Vladimir Licina|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (128Kb/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||No|
Night of the Living Dead by George A. Romero was made on a paltry budget of just over $US100,000. Is it really now 40 years old? Since its release in 1968 it has become a cult horror-genre classic, the film that started it all for zombie movies and now it has been released in Australia in a 40th Anniversary edition. In that time there have been multiple releases of this film due to confusion surrounding its copyright under the original title of Night of the Flesh Eaters. Subsequently, we fans have had to endure (or possibly enjoy) a colourised re-make, a 30th anniversary release which included re-shot scenes done 30 years later and added into the original and of course, a 1990 re-make, which really didn't need to be remade (unlike Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, now that was really well done!)
Johnny (Russell Streiner) and Barbara (Judith O'Dea) open the film by driving to the cemetery to visit their father's grave. Johnny is ambushed by a zombie and dies, Barbara escapes to a farmhouse where she meets Ben (Duane Jones) who has also escaped a pack of zombies by killing them and setting them on fire. In the farmhouse, in the cellar, are another five people who have sought refuge from the zombies, Harry and Helen Cooper (Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman) and their daughter Karen (Kyra Schon) and young couple Tom (Keith Wayne) and Judy (Judith Ridley). The group have an argument about barricading themselves in the house or the cellar, eventually they barricade the house. However, Karen has been recently bitten by a zombie and this is where the film takes a turn.
Casting Duane Jones as the lead actor and main protagonist was a bold move for 1968, especially due to the fact that Jones was black. There can be no doubt that Romero was making a social, political and cultural point here, even if he has repeatedly maintained, in the ensuing years, that Jones was the best actor for the part during auditions.
This is an exciting release by Australian distributor, Beyond Home Entertainment. The film, despite being a cult classic and seminal part of cinematic history, has had many poor releases on DVD due to the aforementioned copyright issues. Does this latest release give Australian fans the version they deserve?
The video transfer has been restored and it looks immaculate. Contrast and sharpness are wonderful for a black-and-white film.
The aspect ratio of the film is 1:33:1 fullscreen which is the original cinematic aspect ratio.
As stated, the video transfer looks detailed and sharp, even if the film has been presented on this DVD release on a single-layered DVD, the running time is only 92 minutes and the average bitrate is 6.17 Mb/s, which is quite good for DVD. There are no compression issues. There is slight grain in the transfer, this is no doubt due to the budgetary limitations of the original cinematography.
The black-and-white transfer of this DVD release has a good range of tones to distinguish the video image.
The restoration has also cleaned up any film artefacts, it is free of dirt, dust and scratches which are commonplace in DVD transfers of this age.
Unfortunately, there have been no subtitles provided with this release.
There is no RSDL change due to the film been presented on a single-layered DVD disc.
The audio transfer has also been restored, resulting in a crisp and clear soundtrack.
There are three audio tracks. The main audio track and first commentary by the crew, George A. Romero, John Russo, Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman are both encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 kbps, the second audio commentary by the cast, Bill Hinzman, Judith O'Dea, Keith Wayne, Kyra Schon, Russell Streiner and Vince Survinski is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 128 kbps.
Dialogue is clear and the audio is synchronised.
Background Music is distinct and clear. It is ominous and quite frankly, creepy most of the time, as you would expect for a zombie film. There are however long scenes of dialogue in the film between the main characters where there is no background score.
There is no discrete surround channel mix as the main audio track is essentially the original Mono soundtrack.
The Subwoofer is not utilised either.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Night of the Living Dead has been released in so many variations on DVD, including colourised versions and 30th anniversary editions with post-production scenes added, that it is only necessary to inform you of the versions that really compare to this Australian release by Beyond Home Entertainment. According to dvdcompare.net, the only releases that compare with this region-free version is the region-free Elite Entertainment edition for its short movie and original mono and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and the 40th anniversary Region 1 Genius Products release which is identical to the Australian version, bar the George A.Romero interview. The Region 2 Italian release also has a unique documentary and interview and the original mono and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks.
Therefore, I wouldn't hesitate to conclude that the Australian release is as good a release of the film onto DVD as the editions mentioned above.
You've come this far with the review because you are a real fan, so what are you waiting for? This is the best release of Night of the Living Dead available for the Australian home video market. Distributor Beyond Home Entertainment needs to be lauded for the wonderful video and audio transfer and the quality extras. Well done!
|DVD||Sony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Sony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||Sony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)|