Archive for the ‘Night of the Living Dead (1968)’ Category

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Mill Creek Entertainment

Release Date: October 03, 2017

Region: Region A

Length: 01:35:34

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: English Mono Linear PCM Audio

Subtitles: English

Ratio: 1.37:1

Note: This is the film’s Blu-ray debut in North America.

Title

“Well, the question of race was the furthest thing from my mind. When I was writing that character, I was thinking about the disintegration of family, the whole idea that people can’t cooperate, even when faced with a disastrous situation they just stick to their own agendas, arguing about whether to go upstairs or downstairs instead of facing the problem. When John Russo and I wrote the screenplay, [the character] was a white guy… So when Dwayne [Jones] agreed to play the role, we all had a conversation and decided that it was a bold move to not change the script. That was it. The same things happened to him when he was white. The redneck posse came and shot him, because they thought he was a zombie, not because they knew he was black. It was an accident really, in the end a happy accident. The night we drove the first print to New York we heard on the radio that King had been assassinated, so of course the film immediately took on a completely different slant.” –George A. Romero (Little White Lies)

The above quote (and many others like it) might be absolutely true. George A. Romero and John Russo probably didn’t write an allegorical social document about race relations in the 1960s, but it is impossible to believe that the filmmakers didn’t know what casting Dwayne Jones in the pivotal leading role would do for the material.

The most interesting aspect of the entire film has nothing to do with zombies. The characters could be protecting themselves from anything in the world: zombies, a homicidal cult, aliens from outer space, or any other threat. To be honest, the zombie sub-genre is one of my least favorite kinds of horror. The entire concept strikes me as rather ridiculous and not even remotely scary. Night of the Living Dead manages to rise above this personal prejudice against zombie films—and this is because we spend much more time with another kind of threat: paranoid human beings. It ratchets up a good deal of suspense, because the zombies gathering outside can represent anything at all. They are abstractions. The social commentary is always on point (whether it was intended or not), and this only adds to the viewer’s sense of dread. The overall effect is simply chilling, and the devastation that we feel has nothing at all to do with flesh eating zombies.

SS01

The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Mill Creek Entertainment’s Blu-ray disc is protected by the standard case with a sleeve featuring film related cover art. The artwork is reasonably attractive but no better than the artwork utilized for the 40th Anniversary DVD—which is a better release in every respect (more about this below).

The disc’s static menu is more attractive than one might expect, but only two menu options are available: the “play movie” option and an off and on switch for the subtitles.

SS02

Picture Quality:

2 of 5 Stars

This is quite simply one of the worst Blu-ray releases in recent memory. One would think that an important classic of the genre like Night of the Living Dead would warrant a decent Blu-ray transfer—especially since this release marks the film’s official Blu-ray debut in North America. We much prefer the 40th Anniversary DVD that arrived in 2008. There’s no reason that this shouldn’t at the very least equal that release. After all, the added resolution should at least result in marginal improvement… SHOULD. It doesn’t.

The transfer fails in nearly every possible way. Damage and dirt are prevalent throughout the duration of the film, fine detail and depth is non-existent, contrast is horrendous with crushed blacks and blown out highlights, and the grain pattern aren’t at all consistent. Nothing about this transfer really suggests that it is a high definition picture. None of this should really surprise anyone. The film is in the public domain and terrible transfers seem to go with the territory.

SS03

Sound Quality:

2.5 of 5 Stars

The LPCM track isn’t much better than the image. Anomalies (hiss, hum, crackle, pop, etc.) overpower the soundscape and there is little to no dynamic range. To be honest, listening to the track gave this reviewer a headache. However, it should be said that dialogue is relatively clear and understandable.

SS04

Special Features:

0 of 5 Stars

There aren’t any supplemental features included on the disc.

SS06

Final Words:

We hope that the rumors about a forthcoming restoration release from the Criterion Collection are true, because Night of the Living Dead still hasn’t seen a proper release on Blu-ray. Those who can wait to own that edition probably should.

One Sheet

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