Anchor Bay, holding all (or most) of the keys in George Romero’s zombie film trilogy, released a four disc Ultimate Edition to capitalize on the theatrical release of the remake, done in grainy, handheld, 28 Days Later style by director Zack Snyder. There isn’t too much here plotwise that you need to be aware of. 4 people decide to seek shelter at an abandoned mall, a continuation of Romero’s first film Night of the Living Dead. I don’t really know of an underlying moral tale in this…film, aside from trying to make a life for yourself again, it really is about trying to get past the zombies and find some sort of freedom, wherever that may be. Special effects whiz Tom Savini gets to show off more of his work here, though not as much as in Day, as he spends some time in front of the camera as the leader of a biker gang.
I dunno, I saw this film when I was 10 or 11, and scared the beejeezus out of me, but since the days of CGI created, monsters, goblins, ogres and anything else you can think of, the charm of Dawn, as well as Day, have worn off in recent years. However, what I think of the film shouldn’t diminish the impact it’s had of the horror film genre, as countless films in the same mold have come out since then. For all of the goofy looking stuff you may laugh at here, Romero’s work still resonates, 20 plus years after this release.
Anchor Bay continues a recent streak of good work in successive DVD releases, as the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation for Dawn looks amazing. Edge enhancement is minimal, and the attention given to this, as well as Romero’s 3rd zombie film Day of the Dead result in really outstanding work. The blood is in vivid color, and the blacks are consistent through the movie, an overall outstanding job.
The DTS soundtrack work to this is good as well, but considering the cheese factor on the soundtrack, you get the bad with the good. DTS soundtracks for older (read: late 70’s early 80’s) films are a nice touch, but that bad music really sounds more horrible with the DTS clarity behind it.
While Anchor Bay decided to load up for the Ultimate Edition that came out later in 2004, they did decide to also include a commentary track with Romero and his wife Chris, who served as Assistant Director on the film. Savini is here too, and the panel is moderated by Anchor Bay rep Perry Martin. The group talks about a wide variety of things, aside from the usual stories about the production of the film. Savini and Romero share their thoughts on CG in the business, as well as Savini’s affection for Lon Chaney films. Romero also shares his thoughts on filmmaking now, and the chances of future Dead films. All in all, a fairly friendly track. This is the highlight of the set, as there is very little else in terms of substantial material here. 2 trailers and a total of 12 TV and radio spots (3 TV, 9 radio) are next, followed by 25 pictures of posters, publicity stills and ads for the film, a biography on Romero that looks much like the one on Anchor Bay’s recent Day of the Dead release, and a preview of a comic book of the film, which has the cover and where to get the book.
More discerning Romero fans may have a better informed opinion of this release than I do. But since the Ultimate Edition came out, this disc can be passed over. Only for hardcore completists of the trilogy.
Special Features List
- George Romero/Tom Savini Commentary
- TV and Radio Spots
- Still Galleries
- Comic Book Preview
- Director Bio