DAWN OF THE DEAD
Directed by George A. Romero
Produced by Richard P. Rubenstein
Written by George A. Romero
Director of Photograpy Michael Gornick
Music by The Goblins Cast: Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross & Tom Savini
1978/127 mins/Color/5.1 DD/5.1 DTS
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD
For the bulk of my reviews, I write about new releases or somewhat obscure films, so I feel compelled/obligated to give detailed descriptions and critiques of the movies. But, no introduction is needed for DAWN OF THE DEAD, and I'm sure that most of you are merely interested in the details of Anchor Bay's new DVD release.
(OK, I've got to do a brief overview for that one reader who hasn't seen the film.) The 1978 film DAWN OF THE DEAD is a sequel to the 1968 classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The story picks up immediately after the events of NIGHT. The zombies which were seen ambushing a farm-house in the first film have now multiplied and are taking over the cities, where panic and martial law have taken effect. Fran (Gaylen Ross) and her boyfriend, Stephen (David Emge), work for a TV station, which is attempting to remain on the air. Stephen, the station's helicopter pilot, plans to steal the helicopter and attempt to escape from the zombies. He has invited a SWAT-team member named Roger (Scott H. Reiniger) to come along for the trip, and following an inner-city melee, Roger asks fellow cop Peter (Ken Foree) to join them. So, this quartet takes the helicopter and flees the city. They come upon a shopping mall, and decide to investigate it. After exploring the mall, they decide that it contains everything that they would need to survive. This group moves into the mall and attempts to maintain a normal existence while being surrounded by death.
DAWN OF THE DEAD is a ground-breaking film in many respects. The sheer amount of violence in the film, brought to life by the special effects of Tom Savini, was revolutionary for the time and can still be jarring today. While DAWN wasn't necessarily a sweeping mainstream success, it did play to packed movie-houses (and lived at midnight showings for years) and the carnage depicted in the film was new to many viewers. However, this violence is balanced with the kind of character development which is rarely seen in horror films, and this human element keeps the film moving and interesting. The movie takes the simple ideas of NIGHT and expands on them in an intelligent and logical fashion. Still, while I consider the film a classic, I'm not afraid to say that I find some of it a bit slow, and I've always hated the pie-throwing scene, which I think destroys the tone of that scene. And I know that many of you will have issues with this complaint, but I hate the music in DAWN OF THE DEAD. The Goblin music never seems to really fit the scenes and the stock music in this version sounds incredibly corny. Even with its flaws, DAWN OF THE DEAD is an unforgettable experience and one of the most influential horror films of the last 25 years.
This latest DVD release of DAWN OF THE DEAD comes from Anchor Bay Entertainment, marking the third time that this company has released the film on DVD. This DVD comes from Anchor Bay's DiviMax line. The DVD contains the 127-minute U.S. theatrical cut of DAWN OF THE DEAD. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. This is a excellent transfer...in fact, it's too good at times. The picture is incredibly sharp and clear, showing only the slightest amount of grain in some scenes. The image also shows on the most minute defects from the source print. The colors look fantastic, and there is no bleeding of the colors. However, this outstanding transfer reveals errors with the zombie make-up -- it's easy to see where the make-up ends at collars and sleeves -- and the blood is far too red. But, that's just nitpicking, isn't it? The DVD contains both a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a DTS 5.1 track. They both sound fine, but they also have a certain artificial quality. The dialogue and sound effects are always sharp and clear, with no distortion. But, the sound is somewhat hollow and only a slightly crisper on the DTS track. The surround and subwoofer effects are sparse, giving both tracks the feel of being stereo only.
This DVD carries a selection of special features. We start with an audio commentary which features writer/director George Romero, assistant director Christine Romero, special effects artist Tom Savini, and moderator Perry Martin. This is a great commentary, as Romero discusses the making of the film in-depth, discussing his shooting style, the origin of the film, and the future of the DEAD films. Savini talks about his FX and how he was wrangled into doing stunt work. The disc has two U.S. trailers, one 2:45 and the other 1-minute, as well as 3 full-frame TV spots, one 60-seconds, and the other two 30-seconds. There are 9 60-second radio spots. The poster & advertising gallery contains some great newspaper ads which show DAWN OF THE DEAD playing with other classic horror films. The extras are rounded out by a text bio of Romero and the cover art for an upcoming DAWN OF THE DEAD comic book. Anchor Bay has announced that a multi-disc deluxe DAWN OF THE DEAD set will be released later this year, which should satisfy the hardcore fans. But, for the casuals admirers of the movie, this great disc should do just fine.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©
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