Day of the Dead [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Anchor Bay Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andy James & Noor Razzak (21st December 2008).
The Film

Romero’s follow up to his "Dawn of the Dead" (1978), "Day of the Dead" follows on thematically and chronologically but again we’re presented with a new situation and new characters. And until 2005’s "Land of the Dead", this was the concluding piece of Romero’s Living Dead Trilogy (now Quadrilogy I guess. "Diary of the Dead" (2007) is totally different to my mind).

"Day of the Dead" begins much like "Dawn" ended – with a small band of survivors in a helicopter. Except, these four are part of a handful of scientists and soldiers and they’re out to see if there are any survivors. The dead walk the Earth and it seems they’re all that’s left. The scientists strain to find an answer to the madness, whilst the soldiers offer minimal assistance and demand results. The siege mentality of "Dawn" is exacerbated right from the start – most of these characters are already at their lowest point.

The military leader is Rhodes (Joseph Pilato), and a more pyschotically fascistic character you’re, well quite likely to find actually, but the man is still deranged. But next to Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty) or ‘Dr. Frankenstein’ as they all refer to him as, he’s positively normal. Dr. Logan is the head researcher, benignly butchering the re-animated dead, not to find a cause but to attempt to make use of the zombie; to see if he can re-integrate them as useful members of the collapsed society. His star pupil is Bub, and Bub easily steals the film from the living characters. In Bub we have a continued progression of Romero’s ‘evolving’, or ‘learning’ zombies. Bub is wonderfully underplayed, and the tragedy of a man brought back from the dead is fully realised as he struggles to remember the remnants of his past life.

Despite the gore being ramped up and the make-up effects by Tom Savini being leagues away from what he did for "Dawn," the visceral thrills of that previous film are lacking. Romero instead focusses on the characters, the tension between them and the pressure cooker situation slowly driving them all a little mad. It’s here though, that one of the true stumbling blocks of the film comes out. Some of the soldiers’ performances are really quite rubbish – they amp them up so much it nearly becomes a distraction. Their screaming, hollering and hooting serves more to deflate the tension than to add to it.

And in between all the (rather good) character interaction, moralistic debates and tension you do wish there would be a little bit more action. Thankfully it’s not long before the zombies are shuffling around the compund tearing people apart.

So whilst you may not find yourself connecting with any of the characters as much as you would in "Dawn" or Romero’s touch doesn’t seem as deft, this is still one of the superior genre films of the 80’s. It’s a fine film, and perhaps it’s unfair to continuously compare it to "Dawn." It’s just, after that film you wish there would be more to chew on.


Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 and mastered in high-definition 1080p 24/fps this image was created using AVC MPEG-4 compression. Much like "Dawn of the Dead" the image here is pretty good considering the film's age, it's budget and so forth. Now it's not 100% perfect as there are some flaws such as the image not being as sharp as one would like (there are some soft shots but it's minimal), there are some specks and very minor instances of dirt popping up but that's about it. Colors hold up real well, blacks are solid if just a little noisy, detail is excellent as are textures and skin tones look good. Overall it's a solid image and a definite upgrade from the previous DVD editions.


Three audio tracks are included in English uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/16-Bit/4.6Mbps as well as tracks in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (which appears to be the original soundtrack). For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its PCM track. Before watching this film, I pretty much knew what I was going to get in terms of the soundtrack. These upgraded 5.1 tracks are often created from the original elements and up-mixed. What this means is that the mono track is 'expanded' to fill the 5.1 space. The 5.1 track never feels full, or immersive but rather sparse and tinny. It lacks punch and an overall aggressive nature which is what this film needs. It needs a well mixed immserive 5.1 track and this one only just skims the surface of that. The dialogue is clear and so is the music, but much like the previous Romero films on Blu-ray it feels hollow and lacking.
Optional subtitles are included in English only.


Anchor Bay has released this film with two audio commentaries, two documentaries, an interview, a promotional video, theatrical trailers, TV spot, trivia track and a bonus trailer. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by writer/director George A. Romero, special make-up effects artist Tom Savini, actress Lori Cardille and production designer Cletus Anderson. This extra is found in the set-up menu of the disc and not the special features, so fans please take note. The track is light and easy to follow, there's plenty of information given to fans and the participants seem to have a fun time reminiscing about the production. Romero comments on making a more expensive 'R-rated' film as it was originally budgeted at $7 million but was eventually made for $3 million. Savini comments on the various effects and tricks used to pull of certain gags. The track remains mainly screen-specific as various topics are covered including the location shooting, the effects, the cast, the story elements, etc. Overall it's a very solid track that seems to go by rather quickly, it's amazing how time flies when you're having fun...

A second feature-length audio commentary is next by filmmaker Roger Avery who opens the track by stating that he's a massive fan of Romero. Avery comments on the obvious as he talks about why he loves Romero's films and shares his own memories from having watched them as a kid, the various references, but also goes beyond a simple fan commentary as he talks about the story elements and takes us further into the interpretation of the film among other things including the characters, the set-up of scenes and the intense nature of the genre etc. Overall this is a fairly good track as well and I enjoyed listening to Avery.

Next up is "The Many Days of Day of the Dead" documentary which runs for 38 minutes 41 seconds, this is a retrospective feature that takes a look back at the making of the film. This was Romero's biggest film at that time, the budget was much higher than the previous films. Romero comments on the original script being much bigger than it is now. Other members of the crew comment on the original version of the script which was to be made on an epic scale, but a smaller film came out of that. We get a sense that the crew were a family and worked with each other closely as we get an inside look at what the bigger script would have entailed. The cast comment on their involvement in the film, on working on the production, shooting the scenes, the make-up process among other things. It's a pretty great feature that takes us through the entire process and challenges faced by the production.

"Day of the Dead: Behind the Scenes" is the next documentary which runs for 30 minutes 50 seconds, this clip is basically raw footage taken during the film's production and features make-up tests for the various zombies, the wounds, cuts and gashes that involve blood spurts, animatronic effects as well as on set footage of the effects in play. Although this feature includes rough audio it would have benefited from having some sort of narration.

Following that is the last audio interview with actor Richard Liberty, which was conducted in 2000, the actor comments on working with Romero, working on the film "The Crazies" (1973) as he shares his memories from that production, and also comments on the various other films he worked on throughout his career. The interview runs for 15 minutes 45 seconds.

"Gateway Commerce Center" promotional video is next about the area of Pennsylvania and runs for 8 minutes 12 seconds, it's nothing too special but an 80's style promotional video about the subsurface development of the limestone mines.

There are 3 theatrical trailers which were used to promote the film, they can be viewed individually or with a 'Play All' option and they include:

- Theatrical trailer #1 which runs for 2 minutes 3 seconds.
- Theatrical trailer #2 which runs for 1 minute 9 seconds.
- Theatrical trailer #3 which runs for 1 minute 58 seconds.

3 TV spots follow, these were shown on television to advertise the film during it's original theatrical release. They can be viewed individually or with a 'Play All' option and they include:

- TV spot #1 which runs for 32 seconds.
- TV spot #2 which runs for 31 seconds.
- TV spot #3 which runs for 31 seconds.

There's a High-Definition exclusive bonus feature, which is in the form of "Fast Film Facts" trivia track which includes facts that pop-up while you watch the film.

Finally the disc start-up with a bonus trailer for:

- "Anchor bay" spot which runs for 59 seconds.


The Film: B- Video: B+ Audio: D Extras: B+ Overall: C+


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