DirectorGeorge A. Romero
Release Date(s)1985 (November 7, 2018)
Studio(s)Laurel Entertainment/United Film Distribution Company (Umbrella Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B+
Day of the Dead, being the third part of the original Dead trilogy by George Romero, was released in 1985 to dismal reviews and a poor fan reaction. Many years later, it developed a stronger following and is said by many, including the director himself, to be the best and strongest entry in the trilogy.
As far as my preference on which is the better film in the original Dead trilogy, it’s a bit like apples and oranges; sometimes I’m in the mood for Dawn of the Dead and sometimes Day of the Dead. Both films have very different tones, but Day has better performances and superior special effects, the latter of which even surpasses modern zombie movies.
We here at The Bits have gone into detail about Day of the Dead on disc not once, not twice, but three separate times, so we won’t go into an enormous amount of detail about the content of this fourth iteration. Chances are good that if you’re reading this review, you’re already intimately familiar with the film and possibly the home video releases that came before it.
Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of the film is Region Free, despite what the packaging says. The presentation is sourced from the same transfer available on the Scream Factory release, which is mostly an improvement over previous transfers, which were slightly squeezed with color and grain issues. This presentation surpasses that, but marginally so. It’s much more organic, but grain levels are never altogether even. Detail is improved and there’s a much warmer color palette, with skin tones appearing oversaturated. Black levels are fine and there’s no major damage leftover.
As for the audio, there’s English 5.1 and 2.0 mono DTS-HD options (both uncensored). The 5.1 track does a pretty good job with well-prioritized dialogue and a bit of extra breathing room for sound effects and score. There are also some surprising ambient moments and instances of low frequency activity, albeit sparse. Subtitles are also available in English HoH.
This set also culls together a number of extras from the film’s various releases over the years. On Disc One, which is the Blu-ray of the film, there’s an audio commentary with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Cletus Anderson, and Lori Cardille; another audio commentary with the special effects team of Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger, Everett Burrell, and Mike Deak; The World’s End: The Making of Day of the Dead 90-minute documentary by Red Shirt Pictures (originally exclusive to the Scream Factory release); Behind the Scenes with Day of the Dead, a vintage 21-minute featurette made on the set of the film; 31 minutes of random behind the scenes footage shot by Tom Savini; a 50-minute interview with George A. Romero by Guilia D’Agnolo Vallan at the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival (which is unique to this release); 3 theatrical trailers; 4 TV spots (one of which is a low resolution version of one of the trailers); and a Gateway Commerce Centre promo video (AKA the Wampum Mine promo video).
Disc Two, which is a DVD, contains only extras, including The Many Days of the Dead, a 40-minute documentary by Perry Martin from the previous Anchor Bay releases (which has been zoomed in on to make it appear widescreen); Joe of the Dead, a 51-minute interview with Joe Pilato about his career; Reflections on the Living Dead, an 80-minute documentary about the original Night of the Living Dead; Travelogue of the Dead, an 18-minute featurette about Ken Foree’s and Joe Pilato’s trek across Ireland and Scotland and making appearances at screenings; and an extensive image gallery featuring 499 stills of behind the scenes moments, posters, memorabilia, storyboards, and continuity photos.
Although this is branded as an Ultimate Edition, it’s unfortunately missing a few things. M.I.A. is an older audio commentary with filmmaker Roger Avary; the 8-minute Underground: A Look Into the Day of the Dead Mines; a 16-minute audio interview with actor Richard Liberty; a different version of Tom Savini’s behind-the-scenes footage from the Anchor Bay releases; the film’s screenplay in .PDF form via DVD-ROM; and a set of essay notes by Michael Felsher.
Umbrella Entertainment’s Ultimate Edition release capitalizes on so many different releases of the film that most fans will appreciate the effort. It’s not a perfect package, but it’s a darn good one. For my money, any excuse to revisit Day of the Dead is good enough for me.
– Tim Salmons