on 1 May 2010
Dawn of the dead blu ray review
Distributor : Arrow video, UK
With this set I was hoping it would be the last time that I would have to buy this film, having previously owned umpteen videos, laser discs, dvds and even the US blu ray release. I thought finally, this will be the ultimate release and the last word on the film.
All 3 versions of the film and a great deal of extras are provided here so I have only quickly skipped through the blu ray but will include my thoughts on the set incase anyone is considering a purchase.
First off, the print on the theatrical release was excellent considering the age of the film and in some ways it was like seeing the film for the first time. The extended cut and Dario Argento cut are included but only on standard dvds, due apparently to the print quality costing too much to remaster to HD blu ray quality. This is a slight disappointment, however the print on both of these (dvd) versons is very good and with the theatrical print being so good in HD, it really helps to make up for this.
The extras are excellent, with only one problem which unfortunately for me was a major issue. The set contains 2 of the commentary tracks from the Anchor Bay release. The George A Romero commentary which is excellent and a commentary with Richard Rubinstein, which I found myself continuously fighting to stay awake for.
The major issue for me, was the missing audio commentary by the 4 main stars of the film which had previously been found on the Dario Argento cut on the Anchor Bay Ultimate Edition dvd release. Assuming the decision to leave this one out was due to rights issues or something similar, this omission almost killed the set for me. Granted if commentaries aren't your thing, then that's fine, however it was actually one of the best commentary tracks I've ever heard and the way the actors bounce off each other and remember the good times provided a truly a fun experience listening along with them.
What helps to bring this set back up for me, is the inclusion of the Fan of the Dead documentary, where a "mad fan" goes in search of all of the locations from Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead and even finds his way into the original cellar from the first movie (which by the way hasn't changed a bit). This documentary has been on Youtube but for filming locations fans such as myself this is a real treat to have it included in the set.
With other feature length making of documentaries and even the Document of the Dead and Tom Savini Scream Greats for extras, this release overall has to be the best ever release of this film so far.
The set also comes with a reproduction poster from the original UK theatrical release (and pre-cert cover art) and a choice of up to 4 different covers for your blu ray.
I would have hoped this release would be the last version I would ever need to buy of this movie, however the lack of the cast commentary track I previously mentioned is reason enough to warrant another purchase if/when Anchor Bay release their ultimate edition on Blu Ray and I wouldn't be too surprised to see Anchor Bay include the extended and Dario Argento cuts also on blu ray discs rather than on standard dvd.
Ultimately for Dawn of the Dead fans, this is an essential purchase, If you can live without the cast commentary track and are not bothered about the other cuts being in SD this probably will be the last time you buy the film. For anyone else (myself included) it is still an excellent purchase, which will suffice, until the inevitable Anchor Bay ultimate edition blu ray set is released.
Overall, a quality release from a distributor who really seems to care for fans of the films which they are supplying.
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on 9 July 2004
When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.
Dawn of the Dead is George A. Romeros classic follow-up to the equally brilliant, Return of the Living dead. As the plague of zombies continue to roam the earth a, 4 fortunate survivors create themselves a zombie free hideout andt take refuge in the ultimate place to be in their situation, a large shopping centre. Once all of the dead have been cleared from the shopping centre and the quartet are securley sealed inside, the four friends are having the times of their lives!
With dawn of the Dead most oftenly being classed as a long film(as it is on over 2 hours) for me this film ends too soon. The pure quality of this film keeps you so deeply engrossed, that instead of seeming too long, the movie seems too short and keeps you wanting to more right at the bitter end. The shopping centre itself is a perfect location for the setting of this movie, allowing Romero to create a deeply humorous side to the movie as incredibly stupid zombies fall down stairs, scratching hopelessly at the door windows of shops and walking around the shops like the living.Dawn of the dead contains some of the most clever zombie deaths ever and the best of which include a screwdriver through the ear, head explosions from gunshots and the classic decapitation by machete.
25 years on from the original release of Dawn of the Dead, the film does not look the slightest bit dated, the gore, humour and effects are just as amazing now as they always have been. With the ravenous swarms of zombies reeking havoc all over the world and the gore laden action that makes Dawn of the Dead the brilliant horror film its turned out to be, its obvious why this film has many a time been rated, the greatest Zombie flick of all time.
on 7 October 2002
I must admit I'm biased when it comes to D Of The D,ALIEN was released a few months before in the UK and at the age of 12 I'd become preoccupied with gore after a few years of reading Sci Fi,my Mum despaired and had heard of a film that was supposed to scare me out of my obsession.Scared I was,I hid through the initial scenes in the tenement,only daring to glance occasionally at scenes so visceral,vivid and so much more terrifying than the Hammer horrors that I'd been weened on,only for the the rest of the movie to pan out to be a classic of allegorical,character based horror in the most innovative style and location any budding classic horror hound could hope for.36 viewings later,12 at cinemas,criminally cut BBFC versions,a laughable BBC2 TV version and my prized US pirate complete version,here it is,complete,uncut and as good a quality as a remastered version as you'll ever see.Dated,flawed,a little overlong but doubtless a classic of the genre.If you want to see what still sets the benchmarch for a genre buy this!!
on 16 July 2003
This is at least the third time Dawn of the Dead has been released in the UK, but the only time it has been totally uncut. This edition only seems to vary from the previous releases by way of being uncut, it's the same longer director's cut and the same Tom Savini commentary and presumably the same print.
Noticeable restorations include shots of zombie children being machine-gunned, and two instances from the tenement siege: sight of a man biting chunks of flesh from a woman's arm and neck, and a man's head exploding from a shotgun blast. Also included is the machete in the head. Yes, it's UNCUT! If you've only seen the heavily cut late eighties video version released by EIV, you're in for a treat here.
First point of contention is the 4:3 picture (seems unmatted) and the print used, which is from an NTSC source and features frequent speckles and marks. On the good side, colours and black level are both reasonably good, and for a low-budget seventies movie it generally looks okay, with a reasonable amount of detail. It's arguable that a fully remastered version wouldn't look that much better unless an original negative was used.
Soundwise, it's the original mono soundtrack, and this sounds clear enough through TV speakers. I generally prefer a movie's original soundtrack to any sort of upgraded 5.1 remix, which usually sounds flat and echoey.
Extras-wise we get Tom Savini's commentary, which is well worth a listen but may already be very familiar to fans of the movie, and a gallery of a dozen or so production stills. Apart from scene selection, that's it.
As for the movie, any horror fan worth their salt will know this is a genuine classic, and I'm sure I don't need to elaborate here. Although the DVD presentation may be somewhat lacking, the main draw here is the full uncensored director's cut, and for that alone it's well worth your time.
I'm not going to wax lyrical about how great a movie Dawn is, as you can find that elsewhere. I am however going to discuss the particular merits of this latest release of the film from Arrow Entertainment.
The first of the four discs is culled from the same tranfer as last year's Blu-Ray edition and is the best available DVD version of the film, but the real selling point of this set is the package of extra features. It's been some odd years since the 4-disc Ultimate Edition was released in the States, so to finally have these extras released on Region 2 is great for those few who have yet to make the jump to multiregion players. While not all of the Region 1 extras have been ported over (specifically the actors' commentary on the European cut, and Ken Foree's tour of the film's famous Monroeville Mall), there are more than enough on offer already and a few new ones to boot.
The fourth disc features Roy Frumke's essential Document Of The Dead, last available in this country on the shocking Trilogy Of The Dead set, whose only saving grace was Savini's shock on the commentary at how the exploding head had been removed from Dawn. Produced at the time Romero was making the film, Document gives a real insight into his process. At an hour and 20-odd minutes, it's a thorough affair and one of the best documentaries about moviemaking ever produced, particularly for one that predates the DVD boom by some 20 years. Exclusive to this release of Dawn are outtakes from the documentary- 7 minutes labeled as deleted scenes, and a further 20 of extended interviews with Adrienne Barbeau, Romero and Savini. In addition to previously released commentaries with either producer Richard Rubinstein or Romero, his wife and Savini, this disc also presents us with Fan Of The Dead, another hour-long documentary in which French Dawn afficionado Nicolas Garreau tours the locations used for Romero's first three Dead movies. It's cheaply made and subtitled, but no less interesting as a result.
Disc 2 features the 75-minute The Dead Will Walk, Perry Martin's superb retrospective making-of documentary. Featuring new (at least in '05 or so, anyway) interviews with all the key players, it's a great companion to Frumke's film, offering a look back on a modern classic as opposed to a detailed, contemporary documentation. This disc isn't much different from Arrow's 2005 release of Dawn.
The third disc presents Dario "Susperia" Argento's European edit of the film, featuring more dialogue and more soundtrack music from the wonderful Goblin. The vaguely-titled "Scream Greats" documentary is an hour-long feature on Tom Savini that was originally part of a video series released by Fangoria magazine. It's a great insight into his personal and professional life, and leaves you wanting there to be more documentaries about him, just so you can enjoy his company that much longer. The obligatory posters, reviews and trailers galleries round out this disc.
Finally, the packaging deserves a mention. The set is coupled with a booklet (remember those?) with an essay from a film critic from Scotland, although honestly it offers little that the documentaries and commentaries haven't already covered. He has some interesting points to make, but I'll let you sample those yourself. The case itself is presented with four choices of artwork- one original film poster, and three newer pieces, all excellent. The outer slipcase has a window cut out in front so whichever you choose is framed.
Overall, it takes it's place as the best DVD release of the movie so far, and one of the nicest sets produced in years, hopefully setting a precedent for the release of older movies on a new format.
on 15 March 2000
Definitely an enduring classic of the zombie genre, 'Dawn of the Dead' is a low-budget splatterfest that should satisfy any horror fan. The director (George A. Romero) had so little cash on his hands that he 'borrowed' the film's location from a friend who owned the department store complex in the movie, and he was only able to film there at night. This location lends the film an even more bizarre quality, when just adds to its allure. The film also features the still-living heroes in a number of carpark-staged motorbike confrontation with their undead does! Lots of gory brainless fun.
on 22 March 2005
This is the best version you can buy here. It contains the 128m theatrical cut, 2 audio commentaries, trailers, still gallery, 85m documentary as well as a decent picture and good sound. It is also uncut. Do not buy the "Directors cut", buy this version (or the 4disc ultimate edition from anchorbayus if you have a multi-region-dvd-player).
on 1 July 2002
DAWN OF THE DEAD is the second film from Romero's living dead trilogy. For me, it is the best! Why? Because it has a great screenplay and the production values that make it work.
The story is great: four people escape from a world thrown into chaos by an increasing population of zombies. They travel by Helicopter for hours and hours trying to reach Canada. On their way, they reach a shopping mall and decide to search for food. The mall is, in fact, crowded with zombies walking around the stores, probably because of the fragments of memories they have from the time the were alive.
The four characters decide to reclaim the mall for themselves and live a life of bliss.
The great thing about the story is that their consumerism turns the mall into a prison. It is also obvious that the zombies are not an easy match... but this is just the begining.
I loved the sense of claustrophobia of it... you never know what's going to happen next. And the end is perfect.
The film starts inside a TV station where I saw one of the best state-of-confusion-like scenes I have ever seen. The sound design of the film is great and conveys just the right mood. The moment the film starts, you'll know you are in another world. The photography is peerless (with that 70's decadent feel). The music is great (the mall music is perfect!). This is one of those films that makes you cry for more - and it is sad no one makes zombie films anymore.
The DVD is ok. Sound seems fine and image sharp enough. Sadly, it doesn't come with a trailer. The gallery has only six photos (six!!) and it is presented in full screen (but since the original aspect ratio was 1.66:1, you won't loose much). I just hope someday, a collector's edition is available.
After the film ended, I started wondering how did they menaged to shoot the whole thing in a mall? Was it filmed during the night? Did it cost a lot? I wish someone could tell me...
Buy it, but just don't watch it alone. Trust me.
on 6 October 2011
Dawn of the Dead (this one, not the remake) was director George A Romero's second film in his classic original zombie trilogy, rather than his `second' not-so-classic zombie trilogy. This follows on from1968s Night of the Living Dead, but has no direct relation to the first film other than it takes place around the same zombie outbreak, none of the characters from the first film are featured in Dawn of the Dead, for example.
The film opens at a television broadcasting station, with no tiresome explanation as to what's happening or how the dead are returning to life, as a viewer you just have to kind of accept it. One of the best aspects of Romero's zombie films is that you are brought up to speed gradually with news clips and character interactions, so there's not an obvious flat-out explanation of what's going on. This introduction gives the film a frantic, realistic feel and a kind of nervous energy. We're quickly introduced to two of the film's lead characters Fran and Steven, a couple who work at the television station. They decide to make a run for it in the station's news (or weather, whatever) helicopter, which Steven pilots in his day to day (to day) job. They meet up with their soldier friend Roger, who in turn befriends another soldier in his unit called Peter and these make up the four main characters the viewers follow over the course of the squishy adventure.
The four of them ride the heli-chopper across the country, trying in vain to `outrun the outbreak' (sounds like a song title). After stopping to refuel at an abandoned air strip (and battling some zombies to bits) they come across an abandoned - everything's abandoned at this point - shopping centre and land on the roof. Figuring they'll be safe from the shambling masses (of zombies) below, they smash through the roof skylight and sneak inside. The group start out doing everything sensibly, like boarding up and hiding the entrances, getting their supplies ("everything we need right at our fingertips") and clearing out the small group of undead already inside the shopping mall. But soon, the trappings of the mall and all of the material items inside prove too much and they start to develop an unhealthy obsession with the place and don't want to leave, until eventually everything goes `dead' wrong (or un-right). Roger ends up getting bitten and slowly turns into a zombie and the mall is invaded by a gang of vicious, looting bikers, who turn out to be much more of a threat to our heroes than the shambling, grey zombie extras ever were!
Eventually poor old Steven gets munched by zombies in a lift (bit of a downer) and Fran and Peter end up narrowly escaping to the helicopter and leaving the mall, flying off into the sunset (or sun rise, to be more accurate), in a kind of bitter sweet, ultimately bleak ending to the film.
This is a fairly unique film, as it's more of a commentary on society's fixation on possessions and greed. The heroes start off as fairly noble and almost transform into lesser versions of themselves, just trying to get as much as they can and keep hold of it at all costs which eventually they lose to the biker gang anyway. The zombies in a strange way are almost shown in a good light, because they seem to all band together and don't fight amongst themselves in their search for food, whereas the humans are shooting each other over clothes and electrical goods! Don't worry if this all sounds too deep and meaningful though, there's also a `lot' of blood n' guts n' stuff in this film!
The special effects and make up were mostly created by legendary special effects master Tom Savini (who's a legend). Due to the fairly small effects team (just Savini and I think two other guys with beards) the zombies have a basic look to them, and most of them are just people with cheap looking grey paint caked all over their little zombie faces. This works well though, as along with the bright red blood (which was described by Savini as looking like melted crayons) gives the film a comic book look and is one step removed from reality, making some of the graphic and gory moments seem less offensive and more `fun' in a way! Savini also performs some of the stunts and appears as Blade, one of the leaders of the biker gang (did I mention that he's a legend?).
You get a sense that the cast and crew had a great time making this film and the gory effects are nice (if that's the right word). It's never particularly scary, although it's not really meant to be, it's more of a comic book satire than a full out horror film and it just oozes atmosphere (as well as a collection of bodily fluids). The characters are really well rounded and believable, especially the four main protagonists, which is important for this type of hyper-silliness, as it gives the film some grounding in reality.
Overall then, this really is a classic and the best of George A Romero's films and possibly even the `ultimate' zombie film. It is generally Romero's shuffling hordes that come to people's minds whenever anyone mentions the word `zombie' and rightly so. This is epic, gory, silly fun and not to be missed (as if you haven't seen it already)!
Overall score: 5 shopping malls out of 5!
on 9 April 2011
I like this film very much. I think it`s an classic film. I think the zombies look good for the most part. I like the
story, acting, characters and music.
Picture quality: 4/5
Since 2003 i believe, i only saw it on the Dutch filmworks DVDs. which only had the Extended Cut and Argento
Cut. It had pretty poor picture and sound quality, which lacked any good details, and had very washed out
colours. I saw the Theatrical Cut for the first time today, on Blu-ray and the BD crushes it completely, in terms of
the picture quality.
I think the colours look very good and strong with detailed scenes at times. Ok, the red paint blood looks
better now, but i still think it looks like red paint. I think the close ups looked best, in terms of details. I think
the black levels looks pretty good, in the dark scenes and the black jackets to some of the people look good.
There is one problem, the HD master Arrow Video used, which was intended to be used on the previous DVD
versions has DNR baked into it. There is not so much film grain left in the film, that i could see from my sitting
Even though it has DNR, i could still see details and such. Too bad the DNR was baked into the master. It would
have had more details if the DNR wasn`t used. I would have given it 5 out of 5, if there was more visible grain
in the picture.
Audio quality: 3.5/5
The Dutch filmworks DVDs only had only a simple, original Mono sound, which i didn`t think very much of. The
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which i used was an improvment over the Mono soundtrack. The music has a bit of
problems. Circa half the times when we hear the music, it sounds fine with some good bass.
The other times it sounds muffled, a bit boxy sounded. You know like someone holds a blanket of your speakers
and it sounds lifeless. The quality varies from song to song. Sometimes it sounds fine, sometimes it does
not. The dialog at times sounds tinny and have that boxy quality. It is also mixed too low compared to the rest
of the soundtrack.
The gunshot effects have hardly any bass except from some of the rifles and the M16 guns i believe. They have
ok bass. The rear speakers are mostly used for music, bullets and some helicopters. In one scene,
they are used for very good effect when a gun is fired inside a room, and the bullets ricochets from left to right
The rear speakers could have been used a bit more, but i guess they could have used it less, if they wanted to.
As i said before, my Subwoofer was mostly used for music and some gunshots that have ok bass. The few
explosions in this film sounds lousy and lack even a hint of bass. Too bad it wasn`t remixed better to sound
more active and properly. Hmm