Decades before The Blair Witch Project drew attention to the small independent filmmaker, George Romero and a small band of Pittsburgh natives took the horror genre by surprise with the stunning and atmospheric Night of the Living Dead. Day of the Dead was the third and (so far) final entry into the Romero zombie trilogy. Romero admits that this is the least acclaimed film in the series while professing that it is his own favorite. There is absolutely no question that makeup magician Tom Savini did some of his greatest work in this film. The gore effects are as realistic as they are gruesome. Tom has told me countless times that he carries a certain extra pride about the work he did on the film. The problem is the story is just too over the top to be taken at all seriously. Most of the acting is really B grade with the notable exception of Howard Sherman’s brilliant portrayal of Bub the mascot zombie.
Zombies have finally taken control of the world, or at least a good chunk of Florida. A small group of survivors and military holdouts have set up a base to study and eventually eradicate the zombie horde.
The disc contains a wide array of listening choices. There is a DTS and identical Dolby Digital 5.1. While the surrounds are not very aggressive, most of the audio is quite clean. A Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also included, but for some reason a portion of the original mono track is missing. It appears that a bit of the excessive cursing was removed from the original track at some point and never returned when this mix was prepared. There are several instances where you can clearly see a character curse but not hear it. Most of the sound occurs in the mid ranges with very little movement into highs or lows. The score is jarring at times.
Day of the Dead is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1. One must first understand that Day Of The Dead was made in 1985 on a very limited budget. With that in mind, the transfer is very good. Colors and hues reflect the film stock of the time. Somewhat saturated color and a dark palate, Most of the film occurs underground in a dusty limestone mine. Darks reflect a fair bit of grain throughout. I was impressed with the absence of most film artifact or specks. The print is certainly a very clean one.
This disc contains the film and two commentary tracks. The best is one featuring George Romero, Tom Savini, Lori Cardille and Cletus Anderson. I enjoyed this track more than the film’s own sound. These guys obviously love to party together and exhibited a great sense of fun throughout.
The second audio commentary is from filmmaker Roger Avary and is not near so interesting. Mostly he wanders into areas of hero worship and offers very little new information.
This second discs is a generous collection of nicely done extras. “The Many Days of the Dead” is a 40 minute collection of behind the scenes and current interviews with most of the important players. You’ll get as close a look at Savini’s methods as you can get without visiting his impressive Pittsburgh workshop.
“Day of the Dead Behind the Scenes” features camcorder footage taken by members of Tom Savini’s make-up crew during the film’s prep and shoot. You’ll also find an actual promo piece for the Limestone Mine used in the film made by the company that owns it.
Lastly, there’s an audio interview with actor Richard Liberty about his work on the film. A wonderful collection of stills and trailers finish what turned out to be an entertaining two disc release.
You know you already bought the special edition of Night of the Living Dead and you are counting the days until Dawn of the Dead is released in the same fashion. It just would seem incomplete not to have this gem as part of the package. Paramount was smart. You won’t be able to own Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade without taking Temple Of Doom for your trouble. At least Anchor Bay gave us a good collection to make this one easier to own. Buy this collection if only so you might “get a look at what Hell was really like”.