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    Day of the Dead Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Shout Factory

    Sep 15 2013 05:33 PM | Todd Erwin in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    The third film in George Romero’s zombie saga, Day of the Dead is a claustrophobic character study of a group of surviving Army soldiers, scientists, and civilians struggling to not only find a cure but also how to get along with each other. Not nearly as action-oriented as the previous entry, Dawn of the Dead, the film does manage to showcase the talents of make-up artist Tom Savini, especially during the gore-fest finale.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Scream Factory
    • Distributed By: Shout! Factory
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
    • Subtitles: English
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 41 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type:
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 09/17/2013
    • MSRP: $29.93

    The Production Rating: 3/5

    In an underground military bunker in Florida, a team consisting of Army soldiers, scientists, and civilians are conducting experiments on captured zombies, desperately looking for either a cure or a way to completely annihilate the now-thriving zombie population that has overtaken the planet. Tensions, however, are running high, as their future looks more and more grim with the supply of food and ammunition running out and losing soldiers to zombie attacks. Captain Rhodes (Joe Pilato) has taken command of the bunker, who believes the only way out is to wipe the zombies from the face of the Earth. Sarah (Lori Cardille) has been assisting the crazed Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty), whom everyone has nicknamed Dr. Frankenstein. But Dr. Logan has been conducting other, more secretive experiments, trying to tame and train the zombies to interact and co-mingle among the living.

    Day of the Dead is writer-director George Romero’s commentary on the loss of trust with one’s government and each other, and to some extent that is the film’s strength and weakness. The strength is in the dialogue and interactions between the characters, the weakness being the lack of action set pieces to keep most horror fans occupied until the third act. Joe Pilato is over the top as Captain Rhodes, conveying a man literally at the end of his wits and ropes. Lori Cardille plays Sarah with bravado as the heroine, with an underlying vulnerability. Richard Liberty seems to be having a blast as the mad Dr. Logan, delivering his lines with, perhaps, too much glee. The real star of the film, though, is the makeup work by Tom Savini and his crew of artists, which included Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger (the “N” and “B” of KNB). Day of the Dead is a showcase, highlighting the now veteran makeup effects artist (and, to some, legend) at the top of his game. It is definitely not for the squeamish.

    Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    A label on the outer sleeve indicates this is an “All-new film transfer,” and I’d have to agree. The 1080p transfer, compressed using the AVC codec, approximates the film’s intended 1.85:1 transfer by opening up the frame, top and bottom, to 1.78:1. Overall, this is a vast improvement over previous releases, but the print does have minor nicks, scratches, and dirt, although they are not distracting. Colors are consistent and well-saturated, highlighting the gruesomely gory makeup effects. Detail is a bit soft, though, but keep in mind this was an ultra low budget film produced in the mid 1980s, and filmed under less than ideal conditions.

    Audio Rating: 3/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono soundtrack does what it needs to do, providing clear and distinguishable dialogue. The lossless soundtrack reveals some of the limitations of the original master (Rhodes’ screaming monologues occasionally suffer from distortion), but this is probably the best it is ever going to sound.

    Special Features: 4/5

    World’s End: The Legacy of Day of the Dead (HD; 1:25:26): This is a fascinating new documentary produced for this release by Red Shirt Pictures, featuring lots of behind the scenes footage along with interviews with most of the cast (including, but not limited to, Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joe Pilato, Sherman Howard, Gary Klar, etc.) as well as Romero, Savini, and many other key crew members.

    Underground: The Day of the Dead Mines (HD; 7:37): The other new feature on this disc, Ed Demko of Culy Magazine hosts a tour of the Wampum Mines Commerce Center, with some help from former mines employee Skip Docchio.

    The rest of the special features have been ported over from the previous Anchor Bay release, upconverted to HD. Missing, however, is an audio interview with actor Richard Liberty and the documentary The Many Days of Day of the Dead.

    Audio Commentary with Writer/Director George Romero, Makeup Effects Artist Tom Savini, Production Designer Cletus Anderson, and Actress Lori Cardille

    Audio Commentary with Roger Avery

    Day of the Dead: Behind the Scenes (30:42): A collection of home movies, shot on standard def video, from Tom Savini’s personal library.

    Wampum Mines Promotional Video (8:12): At first, I thought this was a joke, but apparently this is a real promotional video (obviously made by a local industrial film company) for potential clients.

    Theatrical Trailer (5:55) A collection of four trailers.

    TV Spots (1:35): Three very brief television ads are presented here.

    Stills Gallery: A collection of various posters, lobby cards, promotional stills, and behind the scenes photos.

    Reversible Cover: Owners can choose between new cover art by Nathan Thomas Wilner, or the original poster art.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5

    The new, nearly 90 minute documentary is reason enough for fans to snatch this one up, but they may want to hold on to the previous Anchor Bay release, especially if the interview with Richard Liberty is important to them. Otherwise, this is another stellar disc from Shout! Factory.

    Reviewed by: Todd Erwin
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    A low budget has absolutely nothing to do with "detail being soft" and i don't understand why reviewers continue to perpetrate this myth, it's like those people who say it's an old film so cannot look as good as a modern day flick, completely wrong in my humble opinion although i respect your right to think that way.

    As a film maker, I can tell you that it is not a myth.


    This was a topic of discussion on my review of Q: The Winged Serpent, and this is my response.

    As a film maker, I can tell you that it is not a myth.


    This was a topic of discussion on my review of Q: The Winged Serpent, and this is my response.


    I am well aware of different film stocks, your opinion on detail being soft is probably something i'd call nice and filmic.


    Why didn't you spot the obvious edge enhancement in Halloween 3, the digital oversharpened look and the fact the grain structure had been tampered with, that's why i have a little trouble placing faith in your reviews when you cannot spot edge enhancement that is staring you in the face.  A reviewer needs to be able to spot edge enhancement to warn viewers.


    I love the home theater forum site but unfortunately the reviewers tend to miss many issues with blu ray transfers, it's why i tend to stay away from the reviews section, it only leads to arguments like this one i am now having with you.


    P.S.  I am getting older these days, i got into photography when i was young and they used film, that is long before digital became the norm, even then you had different types of film for use in your camera and although that is stills photography it relates to film stocks used in movie productions, i have amended my post because i thought it was a little unkind.

    Sounds like a solid release. This might be one of the angriest movies ever made, all the yelling in it leaves me exhausted.


    As far as the low budget = soft look argument, we see it all the time on low budget pictures, especially gore fests. I'm guessing it was a choice to cheat the effects. Which is why new digital movies like "Lockout" looks so shockingly bad due to the cheap effects looking like garbage at such a high resolution. The cardboard sets of old Star Trek are more convincing then any of the digital matte shots in "Lockout".

    Another reason for softness is the film scan, i have been reading an article on another site where the person who supervised the transfer basically says its a 1080p cheap film scan from the same 35mm Interpositive as the last release, this time they didn't do the noise reducing Divmax process, now no wonder it's soft, go back to the original negatives and scan at 4K, it will yield a sharper image, of this i have no doubt, you just need to check out the old 2K film scan of Godzilla from Sony/Columbia against the new 4K scan, much sharper and more detailed results, it's all baloney this nonsense about low budget films being soft, the film scanning resolution and subsequent encode plays a huge part in the detail you see on the blu ray.