Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Day of the Dead (1985)


Starring: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joe Pilato, Jarlath Conroy, Anthony Dileo Jr., Richard Liberty and Sherman Howard
Arrow Video
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 18
Available 29 March 2010

The zombie plague has ravaged the land and, apart for a small pocket of humanity, it would seem that the zombies have won. Taking a last stand a group of scientists and military personnel have taken refuge in an old fourteen mile missile silo. While the scientists try to work out a way to control the zombies, the military are losing patients and want to start an all out offensive. As tensions between the two competing groups mount the zombies have plans of their own...

Day of the Dead (1985 - 1 hr, 40 min) was the third instalment in George A. Romero’s zombie trilogy, following on from Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Where the first film used the horror genre to examine prejudice and the second was a pastiche of consumerism, the third I’m afraid is where Romero started to run out of things to do with his zombies.

The zombies look fantastic, courtesy of the special effects from Tom Savini. The advances in prosthetics and the racking up of gore and violence certainly have improved this aspect of the film but the overall narrative, and the overacting by the cast, means that the film does not stand the test of time. Of course, fans of the film and cultists in general will love the film even more for its faults.

The two main protagonists are Capt. Rhodes (Joseph Pilato), a mini dictator who becomes increasingly power mad and unhinged as the film progresses and scientist Sarah (Lori Cardille), who wants to try and save what little is left of humanity. In truth you can’t really blame the military as the scientist; Dr. Logan’s (Richard Liberty), idea of teaching the zombies is to get them to work a Sony walkman. Although, some of the funnier sequences involve the good doctor trying to teach his docile zombie Bub (Howard Sherman).

Herein lays the central conflict in the film. The military, all half a dozen of them, are pumped up with the idea of wiping the zombies out, without taking into consideration that there are millions of them, whilst the scientists, also in cloud cuckoo land, want to retrain them. With their need to shout almost every line the humans do not come over as either sympathetic or deserving of survival.

The two part set has one Blu-ray disc and one DVD. The Blu-ray holds the film with audio option for either a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio or the original mono track. Given the age of the film and the relative cheapness of the original production the picture looks pretty good, it’s a little soft and flat, but the detail is fine and a world away from the poor SD prints, which pretty much makes it an essential buy for fans. It’s easy the best transfer so far and about as good as the film is likely to look, Savini’s work certainly benefits from the extra definition.

The first disc has a number of extras. Joe of the Dead (50 min, 58 sec) which was made for this release alone and features Joseph Pilato discussing his life in acting and the effect that starring in the film had on his career. Open and honest, it’s a fascinating watch. Following hard on its heels is Travelogue 09 Tour (17 min, 49 sec) which follows Pilato on his tour, in 2009, to publicise the film’s release. The Blu-ray is surprisingly not rounded off with a commentary by the director but a new one by the special effects team, primarily by Greg Nicotero.

Disc two continues the extras, but this time on a standard DVD. The Many Days of Day of the Dead (38 min, 42 sec) and Behind the Zombie Footage (20 min, 19 sec) are documentaries which look at the making of the film and the all important special effects. Although he has now passed away Richard Liberty still gets a look in with the fascinating The Audio Recollections of Richard Liberty (15 min, 41 sec). The rest of the extras are smaller pieces, including, a couple of TV ads (2 min, 27 sec), Night of the Living Dead Trailer (2 min, 01 sec), Dawn of the Dead Trailer (2 min, 45 sec), Eight pages of Romero Zombography, twenty nine pages of Souvenirs of the Dead, a photo album and Wampum Mine Promo (8 min, 11 sec).

Although I didn’t get the finished package Arrow have pushed the boat out on added value by including four possible covers, a poster, a collectable booklet and an original comic with Bub’s story. Like I said, the only thing which stops this being the definitive release is the lack of a commentary by Romero, otherwise this pretty much has everything.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£15.98 (
£17.99 (
£16.99 (
£15.97 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.