Night of the Living Dead (Blu-ray) (1968)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 8-Sep-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-Reflections On The Living Dead
TV Spots
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Umbrella trailers for Dawn of the Dead & Day of the Dead
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1968
Running Time 95:52
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By George A. Romero
Studio
Distributor

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
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Scott Vladimir Licina


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 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

    The following synopsis has been copied from my recent DVD review of Night of the Living Dead found here.

    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.

     Recently, Australian distributor Beyond Home Entertainment released a 40th Anniversary edition of Night of the Living Dead on DVD. 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 a version on Blu-ray which matches the superlative effort by Beyond Home Entertainment on DVD?

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     The video transfer seems to be a port of the recent Region B United Kingdom Optimum release on Blu-ray from 2008. The aspect ratio of the film is 1:33:1 fullscreen which is the original cinematic aspect ratio.

     The video transfer is encoded using the AVC MPEG-4/1080p codec. The transfer is impressively sharp. No doubt it has been boosted from the original elements to achieve this. As a result, there are instances of slight edge enhancement. The contrast is also defined and sharp, comparable to the contrast on the recent 40th Anniversary DVD release from Beyond Home Entertainment. Backgrounds still look unclear at times, even on a high-definition transfer, and this is due to the original elements and darker tones due to external night scenes. It is in the close-up shots that you can appreciate how good Night of the Living Dead looks on Blu-ray, in comparison to DVD.

     The image looks to have been restored so film artefacts are not an issue. The main issue with the transfer seems to be the framing which is slightly cropped. This is found on the Optimum release also, but not the Network release from 2009, although the Network release is not as clean as this Region ALL release by Umbrella Entertainment.

     Unfortunately, there have been no subtitles provided with this release. Then again, the two United Kingdom Blu-ray releases by Optimum and Network did not include subtitles either.

     There is no RSDL change because the film has been released by Umbrella Entertainment on Blu-ray on a single-sided BD-25 disc.

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

Audio

     The audio transfer has been restored for this release also, so the main soundtrack is dynamic and background noise is kept to a minimum.

     There is one main soundtrack which is encoded in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 at 48 kHz. 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.

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

Extras

Reflections of the Living Dead (80:00)

     This featurette was included on Umbrella's previous release of Night of the Living Dead on DVD in 2006. This documentary was directed by Thomas Brown. It centres on conversations 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". Commentary on the film is also given in interviews with noted horror directors such as Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream), Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Sam Raini (Evil Dead) and others (mainly directors, science-fiction experts and cinema magazine editors). This extra is similar to the One For The Fire: The Legacy of Night of the Living Dead documentary found on the Beyond Home Entertainment 40th Anniversary DVD release and the Region B United Kingdom Optimum Blu-ray release.

TV Spot (0:57)

     The TV Spot uses stills to create a creepy and eerie tone together with the background music. This extra is unrestored and in a full-frame aspect ratio.

Theatrical Trailer (1:47)

     The theatrical trailer is similar to the TV Spot, including a few extra scenes from the film. It is likewise unrestored.

Umbrella Trailers - Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead

     These two trailers are presented in an unrestored, non-16x9 enhanced transfer and run for approximately two minutes each. The Dawn of the Dead trailer is full-frame whereas the Day of the Dead trailer is presented in a non-16x9 enhanced 1:85:1 aspect ratio.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region B United Kingdom Optimum release is identical in video and audio transfer to the Region ALL Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray release. The only difference is in the main extra. The Optimum release includes the One for the Fire: The Legacy of The Night of the Living Dead documentary. Both these releases share a slight cropping fault. More detail on this issue can be found on The Digital Fix Blu-ray review of the Network release of the film here. The Network Region ALL release from 2009 does not have these framing issues, but it's video and audio transfer are significantly weaker because they are unrestored.

Summary

     The back cover art of this Blu-ray release quotes RyanA's excellent review on the previous Umbrella release on DVD from 2006, "An amazing movie (that) has legions of imitators...the first entry in one of the greatest film trilogies ever."

     Unfortunately, we do not get the two commentaries found on the Beyond Home Entertainment 40th Anniversary release from 2009 (there are no audio commentaries included on any current Blu-ray releases across all Regions). However, don't let that dissuade from getting this film on Blu-ray as the video and audio transfer is excellent and the main extra, Reflections of the Living Dead is a worthwhile documentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Monday, October 11, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Cropping - Sean Brady REPLY POSTED
re: cropping - Anonymous
Classification of film - Anonymous REPLY POSTED