Night of the Living Dead (MRA) (1968)
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||1968|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||George A. Romero|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/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||Yes, a montage during the credits|
Night Of The Living Dead is a classic. It has inspired many imitations, including a few highly interactive video games, which in turn includes the cult classic Resident Evil, a film version of which had George A. Romero signed on as a director at one point. This 1968 original has been spoofed and copied so many times now that very few people haven't at least heard of the concept behind the film, and a bizarre one it is, at that.
Barbra (Judith O'Dea) and her brother, Johnny (Russell Streiner) have just been driving for three hours in order to visit the final resting place of their father, but some classically strange events have preceded their arrival. The first they learn of this is when a zombie attacks them in the graveyard, leaving Johnny dead and Barbra running for her life before she wanders into a strange house. Once inside, she promptly becomes more or less catatonic, and meets with a man named Ben (Duane Jones), who helps fill us in on the fact that the dead have been getting up and attacking the living. With several other occupants in the house, and a virtual army of the walking dead closing in on them, it is only a matter of time before tensions boil over and threaten to kill them all.
Readers may recall that Force Video, in an effort to improve what was once a very nasty image with Region 4 consumers, brought us a digitally restored version of both the 1998 re-edit and the 1968 original cut of this film. You might also recall that at the time, there was a version in Region 1 that had similar transfer quality and retained the original stock music that is used so effectively in the original film. While this version by MRA Entertainment also retains the original stock music, it is definitely not a recommended purchase, for reasons I shall dive into right now...
In a word, this transfer is poor. While it is true that the original source materials place some heavy limits on what can be done with Night Of The Living Dead, it is also true that they can be made to look much better than this. It is also worth noting that this disc did not display timing information on my Toshiba SD-2109, so all time figures given in this review are approximations from a stopwatch.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. This is more or less the ratio that the makers had in mind when filming this piece, so there's no complaints there.
Unfortunately, this is not a very sharp transfer at all, with much of the picture looking quite murky and indistinct, as opposed to the much more film-like quality of the transfers on the Thirtieth Anniversary Edition. This problem is compounded by very poor shadow detail, with black areas of the picture looking very washed out and murky, although the poor shadow detail is more inherent in the original photography. Noise is occasionally visible in the darker sections of the image.
The colour saturation in this transfer is reasonable, although colours do have a tendency to bleed past their natural borders, especially where lighter shades are concerned. A similar effect to dot crawl can also be seen on the edges of shades of grey from time to time.
MPEG artefacts were not noticed in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some noticeable telecine wobble that was quite distracting at times. The real problem with this transfer, however, is the film artefacts, which literally dominate this picture - they can be seen at nearly all times in the forms of large scratches and marks on the picture. The worst offender in this regard was a large vertical scratch in the middle of the picture at 18:45, which persisted for a few seconds.
There are no actual subtitles to be found on this disc, although for some reason there is an empty English subtitle track. I'm not sure exactly why this was included.
There is only the one soundtrack on this disc: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 448 kilobits per second.
The dialogue is pretty clear and easy to understand at all times. There did not seem to be any problems with the audio sync. A low analogue hiss, combined with occasional doses of what sounded like a bad ground, can he heard throughout the film, and there are also a number of pops.
The score music in this film is culled from various stock sources. Fans of the film will be aware that a new score was commissioned by people who worked on the film other than George Romero, but this original stock score music wipes the floor with Scott Vladimir Licina's rather turgid efforts. This, of course, is the only thing that the transfer on this disc really has in its favour.
The surround channels were not used by this soundtrack, which is a pity considering that there are occasional chances for a really good directional effect here and there. Still, given that the film was originally presented in mono, this separation into faux stereo is good enough.
The subwoofer also had the night off.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is mildly animated, and accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. It is not 16x9 Enhanced. Flickering is often visible in the menus and textual screens.
This extra basically consists of notes on critical and audience reaction to the film.
This biography is split into two screens under a submenu, consisting of a biography and a filmography. The biography is quite interesting.
Several pages of text that detail some interesting facts about the film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Again, the best version available is the Elite Entertainment version from Region 1, which has been remastered, retains the original stock music, and contains an audio commentary by George Romero.
Night Of The Living Dead is a great film that was made on the sort of budget that would buy snack food on today's film sets, and one that no fan of horror should be without. Unfortunately, the distributors in Region 4 still don't seem to be getting it right - although this version does have the original stock music and none of the butchery performed upon the Thirtieth Anniversary Edition, the transfer itself is of mediocre quality.
The video transfer is not that much better than a VHS tape.
The audio transfer contains numerous pops, as well as a great deal of hissing.
The extras are minimal.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|