Diary of the Dead (2007) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Horror / Thriller
Dimension Extreme || R - 95 minutes - $29.95 || October 21, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-11-05


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: George A. Romero
Writer(s): George A. Romero (written by)
Cast: Joshua Close, Scott Wentworth, Michelle Morgan, Joe Dinicol, Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde, Philip Riccio, Megan Park


Theatrical Release Date: February 15, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Commentary
  • For the Record Documentary
  • The Roots
  • The First Week
  • Familiar Voices Cameo Outtakes
  • MySpace Contest Winners
  • Character Confessionals


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

(Synopsis) Romero continues his influential "Dead" series, this time focusing on a terrified group of college film students who record the pandemic rose of flesh-eating zombies while struggling for their own survival.

George A. Romero is back for his latest installment is the "Dead" series. This time he decided to go with a style more suited for The Blair Witch or the recently released Cloverfield, but he once again does a spectacular job. Is it as good as Dawn of the Dead? No. Better then Land? Yes.

Diary is a very unique entry in his "Dead" films. It seems to take a bit more from Night of the Living Dead than from any of his others and I think it works out fairly well. It’s definitely a big departure from his recent film Land of the Dead, but it may be a step in the right direction.

The acting in the movie varies between the characters. I felt Debra (Michelle Morgan) and Andrew Maxwell (Scott Wentworth) both did excellent jobs, but everyone seemed like they knew they were expendable characters therefore their acting did not matter. While Romero's other zombie films always had the characters fleshed out, this film, does not. From start to end you probably won't care about any of the characters we meet. When they die, you won't care. I'm having a hard time right now even remember half of their names. I won't even bring up the old Amish guy who can't speak.

There are two things I didn't like in the film. The first would be the shaky camera. While it’s understandable since we are watching what we are to believe to be a documentary, it gets to the point where it distracts from the story and becomes flat out annoying. The first fifteen to twenty minutes of the film I started to get a bit nauseous, but my eyes slowly adjusted and I was able to watch the full movie without heading to the bathroom. Romero was nice enough to throw in several moments where we get a still camera (or close to it) for a few minutes to get a breather from the jumpy camera effects.

The second issue is some of the special effects. Being a huge fan of Romero's four other films, I was a bit disappointed to see effects that I feel would belong better in “Day of the Dead 2” or “Return of the Living Dead Part 8”. Romero's other films showed true gore, not these goofy effects where eyes explode or acid melting through a brain with the help of CGI. They’re not bad, but they definitely look fake.

I wanted to hate the movie, I really did. I was a bit disappointed when I heard instead of Romero continuing on with his traditional zombie films like he did with Land, that he was changing course for something that would appeal to the MySpace generation (which is pretty funny if you look at the special features). But I got to say, Romero impressed me. Apparently the film did well enough at the box office that a sequel with the surviving characters is already planned.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Worth noting is Dimension Extreme has included a very nice shiny slip cover with this release. It matches their release of Night of the Living Dead which is being released the same day as Diary.

Feature Commentary: (with George A. Romero - Writer/Director, Adam Swica - Photography and Michael Dohery – Editor) - The problem with this commentary is that I was interested in what Romero was saying but everyone else just bored me to tears. Too bad we couldn't get a commentary with some of the cast members.

For the Record Documentary on the Films Cast, Crew & Creation (~ 80:00) - The meat of the special features gives us 5 different featurettes which include a chat with Mr. Romero himself, a look at the cast, make-up, visual effects, and photography. Easily one of the best features on the entire disc. Recommended Watch

The Roots (2:06) - Romero talking for 2 minutes. While I love the man, I have to wonder why they didn't just incorporate this with the above documentary?

The First Week (4:20) - A super-short featurette that was shot during the first week. Has some really goofy music in the background.

Familiar Voices Cameo Outtakes (5:03) - Several minutes of 3 "famous" individuals calling in their lines to be recorded in the movie. I was actually hoping this would but cut cameo appearances by past "Dead" stars like Ken Foree... but it was not. Very misleading title.

MySpace Contest Winners (15:00) - A content was run on MySpace where aspiring filmmakers could submit their own 3 minute Zombie "films" to win something (I'm not sure what). These are kind of hit and miss, but still a good watch.

Character Confessionals (20:28) - 4 "confessions" done Real World style with Tracy, Tony, Debra and Eliot. Recommended Watch

Also included are several trailers for other Weinstein/Genius/Dimension Extreme released. I was very excited to see the original Night of the Living Dead trailer... one of my favorite, classic trailers.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Diary of the Dead is presented in 1.85:1 (VC1) on a 25GB Disc. The quality is a bit hard to judge since many times throughout the film we will be watching several different types of film (video cameras). The Blu-ray release looks a step up from the previous DVD version I reviewed several months ago a direct comparison between the two shows the Blu-ray tends to be a bit sharper.

Genius/Weinstein has included a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track in English as well as subtitles in English and Spanish. Unlike the previous DVD release I felt this track did the film justice. I no longer had to continually change the volume to understand what the characters were saying nor did I feel underwhelmed. A very solid mix this time around.



.::OVERALL::.

It may have taken several months but Diary of the Dead is finally available on Blu-ray. This release is a huge improvement over the DVD in both Picture and Sound and comes highly recommended.