Directed and written by Dan O'Bannon
Produced by Tom Fox
Director of Photography Jules Brenner
Cast: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Matthews, Beverly Hartley, Linnea Quigley & Allan Trautman

1985/91 mins/Color/ Mono Dolby Digital
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/US/NTSC Region 1

Review from the MGM DVD

Director Dan O'Bannon (writer-ALIEN) did not want to do anything that would step on the toes of George Romero, of whom he is a great fan. He was given a script by Tobe Hooper that was written by Russo (Romero's partner) and asked if he wanted to direct. He said yes and with the above in mind, decided to make a comedy/satire. Surprisingly, he made a movie that not only has comedy but is also chilling and has some genuine frights which has certainly been elevated to cult status. Clu Gulager and James Karen put on wonderful performances and Linnea Quigley's cemetery dance looks even better on this new transfer.

The print is in perfect condition with no dirt, blemishes, nicks, etc. The colors are saturated but not overly so; there is a huge amount of detail in the night shots and shadows and the skin tones are accurate. Overall, an excellent transfer that is miles above any former video release.

The mono soundtrack is very good giving nice support to the metal soundtrack featuring The Cramps and Billy Idol.

The first supplement is the full-length audio commentary by Director/Writer Dan O'Bannon and Production Designer William Stout. Stout tells some interesting stories about how some of his film ideas were created, including the skeleton farm in India (which happens to be real). O'Bannon points out many of the flaws in his film including the overly clean embalming room and the fact that a corpse's shoes were too shiny. We also learn of some of the photographic limitations the director had, and how he worked around them. Stout spends too much time patting himself on the back rather than telling us how some of the effects shots and gore were created.

In Designing the Dead,Writer/Director Dan O'Bannon is quick to point out that while he is a great fan of Romero's films, the last thing he wanted to do was step on his toes. O'Bannon's goal was to take the essence of the "Dead" films and turn it into a comedy. One thing that I was shocked to learn was that this was the man that wrote the original "Alien" story that went on to be directed by Ridley Scott. In a very geekish manner, the Director talks about how the success of "Alien" led to other film offers, and ultimately, an offer from Tobe Hooper to direct Return Of The Living Dead. After checking out a comic book cover design, O'Bannon brought William Stout on board as Production Designer. We get a look at some of the early production designs for the film, which look quite good. Putting in 18 hour days, Stout did a lot of research on dead corpses in order to bring more realism to his mummy-like creations. Stout goes on to give a fascinating in-depth explanation of how many of the make-up effects were created, and why he preferred actors over stunt men to take on the role of the dead. (length: approx. 13 minutes).

There are about 78 photos that make up the storyboards and Conceptual art work by William Stout.

Two original theatrical trailers are included. The first is the "G" rated trailer designed for general audiences. The second is the "R" rated trailer that played as a preview amongst more adult orientated films.

There is no DVD-ROM material and no booklet liner notes. Alas, us true blue fans would have liked to see a suplemental section devoted to Linnea Quigley but it was not to be.

This highly enjoyable and and well-done movie takes on new "life" thanks to its excellent DVD transfer. The dead have never looked better. Highly recommended!





This Film Features:

Review by Brad Vautrinot. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©

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