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Day of the Dead (Special Edition Two Discs) (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000081611
Added by: Stuart McLean
Added on: 7/4/2006 02:10
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    Review of Day of the Dead (Special Edition Two Discs)

    8 / 10


    It`s impossible to imagine how Romero thought he could pull this one off and create one of the finest horror movies of the 1980`s. He had (virtually) invented the Zombie genre with his groundbreaking sixties low-budget schlock classic, `Night of the Living Dead`, and had followed this up with `Dawn of the Dead` (never felt the same about shopping after that one), continuing with his trademark `zombie`s as critique of modern life` motif. This was the 1980`s after all, and horror had moved on to become something altogether more horrible (serial killers abounded) as well as a time where horror was peppered with a knowing, almost cartoon-like humour (Nightmare on Elm Street et al).

    But pull it off he most definitely did. This stands up as a thought-provoking edge of the seat piece of macabre escapism to this day.

    Once again, Romero battled against severe budgetary constraints, with backers pulling out during pre-production, leaving the core (gore?) team with their usual challenge of bravado over dollars. Ton Savini, Special FX, came on board and, let loose, created an almost wall-to-wall gore fest that was as impressive as it was gruesome. It`s a sobering thought that special fx guru Tom Savini, responsible for the tearing of flesh, the breaking of bones, the stretching of sinew and the removal of vital organs in this movie was a Vietnam War photographer prior to setting out on this new career path.

    Sure, it`s a film that demands a suspension of disbelief. It can`t be possible for even zombie`s to just `dip` their fingers into the torsos of their living victims like that and pull out major organs. And surely a head can`t keep screaming after the lower half of its torso is ripped from the upper? Well, this is no medical training film, but for my money it`s still a damned exciting one.

    Like many before me, my introduction to this movie was on VHS. It bombed at the cinema, though has picked up a growing cult fan-base since that time.

    Following on from the `Dawn of the Dead` there are very few human survivors left in the US. But deep underground, in remotest Florida, a small group of scientists, supported by a protective military force, are battling to find a solution to the inevitable extinction of the human race. But the team, now down to a final twelve, is worn out, fractious and falling apart (literally later in the film…ouch!).

    At their core is Sarah (Lori Cardille) who seems to be the only levelheaded human left. Her lover, Miguel (Antone DiLeo), is battling with his sanity, with nerves shot to pieces. They all support Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty), affectionately named "Dr. Frankenstein" by his colleagues, who believes that he can `train` zombies to behave more socially, though he demands a constant supply of them for his experiments which is extremely risky.

    He seems to be on the verge of a breakthrough with one zombie who he calls `Bub` (Howard Sherman), who he rewards with music and artefacts that seem to trigger distant pre-death memories.

    In the meantime, the zombies are knocking at the gate, tempers are flaring and relations between the military minded and the scientists are falling apart.
    And that`s just for starters. `Day of the Dead` is relentlessly fast moving, allowing our eventual heroes (notably a lady, a black man and a boozy Irishman) to go through a nightmarish journey that culminates in a conclusion that seems to suggest that, if there`s nothing more you can do it…opt out and do your own thing. You`ll need to see the movie to see what I mean!


    This has that slightly dull 80`s cinematic look where colours aren`t Technicolor saturated (just as well with the amount of blood spilled here), and there`s a residing graininess throughout. But this transfer is far richer than I remember (well, it was VHS) and seems to be a serviceable wide-screen anamorphic transfer.


    A feature of many early 80`s movies is their keyboard-generated scores. This is no exception. It`s not all bad, though sounds horribly dated.

    There`s a 5.1 Dolby option here as well as Stereo 2.0 Dolby, though no original mono. The 5.1 is a relatively restrained affair, retaining the (almost) mono mix of dialogue and music to the centre, with very modest ambient support to the rears. This is certainly not a major re-working.


    There`s no Romero commentary here, (a shame as one is certainly available) just a slightly confusing `talk over each other` style chat with the effects team. (Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger, Everett Burrell and Mike Deak). It`s full of interesting anecdotes and facts, but is an undisciplined `throw `em in the studio and let `em go` style approach. I generally prefer the more disciplined and planned approach.

    This is a 40-minute documentary featuring cast and crew. What`s most interesting here is the detail around Romero`s original aspirations for the film which were far grander in scale that eventually produced. There are plenty of recollections about shooting underground in the mines, as well as (naturally) great emphasis on Savini`s special effects and make-up ingenuity. It`s also of interest that Romero himself professes to like this third movie best out of his (then) trilogy.

    "DAY OF THE DEAD: Behind the Scenes" (20 mins)What it says on the tin, with special emphasis on Savini who achieved miracles in pre-CGI days with prosthetics, make-up and primitive special effects.

    Filmographies for George A. Romero and Tom Savini, Photo galleries and original theatrical trailers for Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead


    If you were introduced to Romero with his relatively recent `Land of the Dead` then you could do worse than start the backward cycle by exploring this third chapter in the quadrilogy. It follows directly on from his `Dawn of the Dead`, as an apocalyptic critique of modern values and the hopelessness of modern-life.

    It`s full of blood and gore too; ultra-violence meted out by slobbering zombie simpletons. In that respect, it`s not recommended for the faint hearted.
    But for those with a stomach for such things, and an ability to completely suspend disbelief, then this will provide you with an entertaining, edge of your seat 90 minutes that is potentially thought provoking too.

    It`s by no means a perfect movie. The score, the dialogue and the unlikliness of some of the narrative put pay to that.
    But it`s an honourable addition to Romero`s Zombie quadrilogy that has really stood the test of time.

    With an all-new audio-commentary (to ensure obsessive fans buy this edition too) as well as some neat featurettes, this will certainly be a fan-pleaser too. There is an R1 version doing the rounds that may well offer an even richer selection of extras, but failing being abvle to get your hands on that, this is highly recommended.

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