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Day of the Dead - DiViMax Special Edition
Reviewed by: David Litton
Genre: Horror
Video: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
Audio: English DTS-ES 6.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0
Language: English
Subtitle: English (cc)
Length: 101 min
Rating: Unrated
Release Date: 08/19/2003
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Commentary: Feature commentary with writer/director George Romero, special make-up effects artist Tom Savini, production designer Cletus Anderson, assistant director Chris Romero, and cast members Lori Cardille, Joe Pilato, and Howard Sherman, feature commentary with filmmaker Roger Avary
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: "The Many Days of Day of the Dead" featurette
Filmography/Biography: George Romero biography
Interviews: Audio interview with cast member Richard Liberty
Trailers/TV Spots: Theatrical trailers, TV spots
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: None
Music Video: None
Other: "Day of the Dead: Behind the Scenes" footage, Wampum Mine promotional video, photo galleries, DVD-ROM: original screenplay, production notes
Cast and Crew: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy, Anthony Dileo Jr, Richard Liberty
Written By: George Romero
Produced By: Richard P. Rubinstein
Directed By: George Romero
Music: John Harrison
The Review:

First came the night, then the dawn, and now the day. Surprised as I am to hear myself say this, George Romero's "Day of the Dead," the third and final installment in his zombie horror trilogy, isn't half bad. Lacking the sustained thrills of the first film while shying away from the lifeless approach taken in the second, this new venture finds us in a world completely beseiged by the undead, with only a handful of human survivors left to pick up the pieces of their shattered existence. The setting: an underground cavern where a group of scientists and military personnel busy themselves capturing live specimins from above and performing various tests and surgical prodecures in an attempt to determine the cause of their physical and mental state (oneof the scientists even uses the word "domesticate" in regards to his test subjects). The gun-toters, however, are becoming restless, and soon everyone is at odds with one another as to how they should proceed. ***

As with "Dawn of the Dead," the story is pure schlock, an outlet for more of the same gore effects that were previously explored. Necks are ripped open, arms are cut off and singed at the stump, and even a variety of zombie autopsies can be seen in very gruesome detail, courtesy of a make-up effects team whose credits include everything from "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" to the more recent "The Cell." And while this is pretty much the same avenue as seen before, there's just something to it that looks more appealing. Perhaps its the underground setting, which provides numerous places for action while at the same time limiting the characters' possibility of escape. Or maybe the simple fact that the whole "domestication" factor provides some humor that eases gradually into the other elements of the film. It's no great horror picture, to be sure, but for the most part, "Day of the Dead" manages to entertain on a fairly decent level.

Image and Sound:

After being released previously in a shoddy non-anamorphic transfer, "Day of the Dead" is now refurbished and buffed up with a new transfer that falls into Anchor Bay's DiViMax collection. This is one of their better titles to be released under that logo, with an overall lack of nagging enhancement halos that plagued "Manhunter," and a solid clean-up job that makes the old edition obsolete. The source print is in good shape, with an overall lack of blemishes for extensive film grain, while clarity is near-perfect, with crisp, sharp edges and decent small object detail. Colors look more natural and evened out from before, with pleasing fleshtones and a consistency in regard to light and dark sequences. Contrast is also well-done, with solid blacks and nice shadow detail throughout. Some noise is visible here and there, and the occasional artifact does present itself, but in the end, this is the transfer that "Day of the Dead" fans have been waiting for. ***

The audio comes in two different choices, one being a DTS-ES 6.1 track, the other a Dolby Digital 5.1 track with EX enhancement. All things considered, both remasterings are admirable efforts, even if they don't really impress as much as those of more modern movies. It's easy to hear the dated nature of the audio in both tracks, with music that sounds a bit subdued in the surrounds, and dialogue that is slightly artificial in places. The sound effects lack sufficient aggression, but still manage to impress, and imaging is okay while not being ear-popping. In terms of the differences between the DTS and Dolby, the former sounds slightly better in terms of smoothness between channels, and its low end frequency is a bit more enhanced. But the Dolby works just fine for those without the availability of a DTS system. --

The Extras:

Covering almost every aspect of the production, the supplements here give us a nice perspective on the making of the movie, from the gore effects to the production design. ***

Moving on to Disc Two we start off with the new featurette "The Many Days of Day of the Dead," which runs for almost forty minutes and features a number of retrospective interviews with several cast and crew. While some of them recall the origins of the script and the early developments of production, it is the discussion of the gore effects that grabs the attention, with some behind-the-scenes footage of make-up application processes as well as some glimpses of the animatronics. Be sure to stick through for the story about the unplugged refrigerator where the guts were stored. Then we have no less than a half hour of behind-the-scenes footage covering a variety of things, including the make-up effects, the gore, the applications, and much more. The gore may be cheesy, but watching it in the beginning stages is pretty neat. ***

We then move on to the promotional video for Wampun Mine, which was the location of the Gateway Commerce Center, and the location of the movie. There is also a very interesting vintage audio interview with actor Richard Liberty that fans won't want to miss out on. There are theatrical trailers and TV spots galore, and photo galleries that encompass everything from production stills and behind-the-scenes shots to continuity photos and zombie effects captures. Closing out the disc is a George Romero biography, and some DVD-ROM material including the original screenplay and some concise production notes. Fans, this is the definitive version of "Day of the Dead" on DVD; what are you waiting for?

Commentary:

Disc One houses the movie and two audio commentaries, the first of which features a number of collaborators: writer/director George Romero, special make-up effects artist Tom Savini, production designer Cletus Anderson, assistant director Chris Romero, and cast members Lori Cardille, Joe Pilato, and Howard Sherman. This is certainly an information-rich discussion of the movie that provides a wealth of knowledge about the backstage antics of the cast and crew, the creation and development of various effects and settings, characters and situations, and much more. The upbeat, jovial nature of the conversation amongst these filmmakers is all the more welcoming, making for a listening experience that is well worth one's time getting into. ***

Which brings me to the second commentary with filmmaker Roger Avary, who not two minutes into the track reveals himself to be the warped mind behind the atrocious "Rules of Attraction." After pumping his own movies for a few minutes, he then goes on to talk about how he's such an enormous fan of Romero's movies, afterwards stopping to dig his own grave by idling on about how those listening probably won't hear anything they didn't know prior to this commentary. Great way to garner our interest, Avary.

Final Words: In addition to the spiffy new transfer, "Day of the Dead" is getting a lavish set of extras that fans will find absolutely essential for their collection.

 

 
 
 
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