To get it out of the way, I’m am going to alert you to the fact that Day of the Dead is not only my favorite Romero film, but quite frankly, I think it’s the best zombie film that has ever been made. I often refer to it as the “Empire Strikes Back” of George Romero’s Dead Saga. The atmosphere is dark and claustrophobic, the performances are all exceptional, despite the fact that some refer to them as over-the-top. Actors used to actually portray characters at one point in cinematic history. Some still do, but for the most part, popular actors generally just play a version of their own self in any given movie that they appear in. The zombies in the film, save for the few extras that are wearing zombie masks rather than being touched-up with Savini’s excellent makeup effects, are the best looking, definitely in Romero’s body of zombie films, but quite possibly in any zombie film. The tone is dark, remains dark and ends on a dark note. Day of the Dead is the gold standard, when it comes to zombie films, and it is the unit of measurement in which I compare any new zombie films that are released.
I’m not saying there haven’t been solid zombie flicks since Day of the Dead, there have been several. It’s just that, none of them have been able to live up to the expectations that Day of the Dead embedded into my brain. If I were to tell you the amount of times I rented the VHS of day of the dead when I was younger, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Eventually, when the switch from VHS to DVD began, I picked up a previously viewed VHS tape from a local video store for around 10 bucks, and it still stands on my shelf to this day. Day of the Dead is one of those films that, no matter how many times it is re-released, and however pointless the re-release is, I will be there on day one to make the purchase. The good news is, that Scream Factory’s special Collector’s Edition Blu Ray release of Day of the Dead, is far from pointless.
A lot of titles Scream Factory releases, have never been released to Blu-Ray. So, it’s easy to convince a genre collector to spend 25 bucks on a cult film that has never been seen in all its high def glory. When releasing a title that is already readily available on Blu-Ray, though. You have to work a little harder, and that is exactly what Scream Factory have done. To start with, there is an all new transfer of the film on this disc. I don’t know about you, but when I first bought the Anchor Bay Blu-Ray release of Day of the Dead, the very first thing I did was pop it in, directly after a quick skip-through of the Divimax DVD. And, unfortunately, the Blu-Ray and the Divimax DVD, at least upscaled on my Blu-Ray player, looked identical. The new transfer on the Scream Factory disc looks like you’d expect a high definition transfer of this zombie epic should look. Rather than dull and blurry, we’re treated with the intended film grain, popping colors and extremely well-defined details, such as facial features, threads of clothing, and oh my, the beautiful gore effects by Tom Savini.
The special features on this disc are superb. Beyond the all new transfer, we are also gifted a brand new, feature-length documentary entitled “World’s End: The Legacy Of Day Of The Dead”. This documentary is ninety minutes worth of interviews with Romero himself, some of the cast members, as well as Tom Savini. A decent enough chunk of the documentary is spent examining specific effect gags, such as the zombie lying on the table with his entire head, save for the brain removed. On the set, that specific gag was nicknamed “moose clit”, for obvious reasons. In addition to said documentary, there is also a commentary track with George Romero, Tom Savini, Cletus Anderson and Lori Cardille. There is a standalone special effects featurette about Savini’s makeup work. There is also a several photo galleries, as well as the original TV spots for the film. If you pay attention, there may be a little something extra, beyond the listed special features, as well. The one major thing that the Anchor Bay release had that is missing from this release is the 45 minute documentary entitled “The Many Days of Day of the Dead”. If this is important to you, you may want to hold onto that old disc.
Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray release of Day of the Dead is the definitive release of this film. It looks and sounds spectacular, and it’s loaded with all the special features you could ever want. The new artwork by Nathan Thomas Milliner is great, as always. And in case you’re one of these people that complain for the sake of complaining, about the commissioned art for Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray, as always, the original poster art is on the reverse side, to please even you. If you head over to Shout Factory’s website, and pre-order the disc, for a limited time, you will receive a bonus, exclusive 18×24 poster of the aforementioned artwork.
Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition of Day of the Dead will be released on 9/17/13