Night of the Living Dead (1968) [Blu-ray]
||| Unrated - 97 minutes - $29.73 || September 29, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-12-15|
Writer(s): John A. Russo and George A. Romero (screenplay)
Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon
Theatrical Release Date: October 1, 1968
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[Please note - This Blu-ray is Region Code B meaning it will not play in American Blu-ray players. This title will only work on Blu-ray players imported from the UK, HTPC that strip region coding, or the LG 200 Blu-ray/HD DVD Combo Player.]
The movie that re-invented the horror genre 40 years ago is back in this release by Dimension Extreme.
What's there to say about Night that has not been said before? If you have any interest in horror movies you have probably already seen this movie several times already. Johnny (Russel Streiner) and Barbara (Judith O'Dea) take a trip to visit their father's grave. At the cementer Johnny is attacked by a crazy man and knocked out while Barbara makes a run for it holding up in an old house. After being freighted inside, she runs out and meets Ben (Duane Jones), our hero. For the remainder of the movie we meet several other individuals and watch this group try to defend themselves from these killers. I say killers because word zombie is never uttered once in the film yet it started a revolution of zombie knock off films shortly after.
If it was not for Romero, I would probably have no interest in horror films. As a youth (around 8) I managed to catch a showing of Dawn of the Dead on cable late at night while I was home sick and was instantly hooked. The story, the music, the characters... this film had it all. The next day, still sick and by myself at home, I rode by bike up to the mall where I convinced the local Suncoast employee that my mom was getting her hair done and to sell me that VHS copy of Night. Well, $35 later I now owned the dual cassette version of Night of the Living Dead and watched it for many months after. Along the way I picked up the version on Laserdisc (still don't even own a player to watch it) as well as Dawn and Day on VHS. This is, by far, my favorite trilogy of films. Star Wars? Indiana Jones? Back to the Future? Nope, the "Dead" series is by far the best trilogy.
By now you must wonder why there are so many releases of Night. To make a long story short, due to an error by not including a copyright indication on the theatrical prints, the copyrights lapsed and the film is now in public domain. Because of this anyone can release their own version of Night and cash in. This is why if you go to Wal-Mart you will see the $1 version of Night, and then a version by Anchor Bay, and then one by Dimension and one by... so if you really want to watch Night of the Living Dead, itís extremely easy to. What each new release tries to do is get the approval of George A. Romero (like this one) and include additional bonus features to help sell the disc to fans.
With the additional of this disc to my library, I now own six different versions of Night of the Living Dead. Not only do I own three of the black and white versions, but I own the special colored version, the 1990 remake, and the more recent "3D" version. Itís getting to the point where I wonder if I will ever need to own six different versions of the film. The answer for fans is yes.
Each version seems to include its only unique special features and this release is no different. If I want to watch the amazing 'Night of the Living Bread' documentary I turn to my red case Millennium 'Elite' Edition. If I just have to watch the 15 "bonus" minutes reshot for the film 10 years ago I pop in my 30th Anniversary Edition. This release, by Dimension, includes a excellent documentary that will definitely compliment the other releases.
George A Romero Documentary (87 Minutes) - Wow this is why you want to buy this release. Includes are 8 different featurettes for a total run time that is just a tad shorter than the actual film. This is, by far, one of the best extras I have watched on any of the Night releases. This alone is worth the price of admission. Recommended Watch!!!!
[Keep in mind this is presented in PAL - My TV would not play this feature at all but itís the same presented on the Genius/Weinstein release]
Sadly, that is all for this release. I imagine they couldn't use the other features as they were paid for by whatever studio was putting out that particular release of the film. At this point, if you are a fan of the film you probably already have a few DVD versions anyway, right?
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Night of the Living Dead finally comes to Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio 1.33:1 (4:3) (AVC/MPEG-4) on a 25GB Disc. As a fan of the series I was eager to import this release and I am proud to say the film looks amazing. Since I own almost all of the previous DVD releases (including Genius/Weinstein's latest version see HERE (link to my DVD Review Brian) ) I felt a comparison was needed. Taking the best of the best release (Genius/Weinstein) I did an A/B Comparison using two of my LG 200 players hooked up the same TV. It appears this Blu-ray release is using the same, new transfer as the Genius/Weinstein DVD Release. Right off the bat I could tell the image was a lot cleaner, some of the dirt and debris seemed to disappear. Blacks looked incredibly dark and contrast was a bit more in tune with how I feel it should look like. Grain looked incredibly good - before it felt like a blocky mess and now it appears the true structure is finally coming to light. Without a doubt this is the best release of Night of the Living Dead available.
A small side note - I find it amusing that Night of the Living Dead, one of the biggest public domain films I've ever seen (at least fifty different DVD versions), is Region coded! How is it that another studio has yet to release this on Blu-ray, even if itís just a shoddy upconvert?
Optimum appears to have used the same 2.0 audio track as the previous Genius/Weinstein release... except this time its DTS MA 2.0 Mono! To be honest, I really couldn't tell much of a difference between the DVD and BD besides the BD sounded a little bit louder. Having lossless is a great thing and I'm glad Optimum didn't cheap out and provide the same, stale 2.0 mono track we've heard many times before (which is also included).
Fans of Night of the Living Dead will go bonkers knowing a HD version is available overseas... but I hope soon enough a Region A version will be available. Genius/Weinstein had plans to release this before on Blu-ray and I hope they follow through. Until then, if you are able to watch Region B Blu-ray movies I urge you to pick this up. I was able to purchase it for roughly $15 shipped to America after currency converting - a very fair price in my opinion.