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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

NIght of the Living Dead: Remastered (1968)


Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 29 September 2008

Johnny and Barbara travel to a remote graveyard to place flowers on their father’s grave. When they are unexpectedly attacked and her brother rendered unconscious, possibly killed by a zombie, Barbara flees to a near by farmhouse only to discover more of the creatures. With other survivors she boards herself into the house to try and survive the outbreak of mass murder that is sweeping the eastern seaboard...

Night of The Living Dead (1968: 1 hr 35 min 52 sec) is the zombie movie, which kicked off the modern round of this genre. Directed by George A. Romero, the film was an Indie production shot in black and white.

Now I’m bound to be keelhauled for saying that, although it is without doubt an important film which has some great sequences, it is not the masterpiece of acting or cinema that many of its supporters would have you believe. Its power has to be taken in context of when it was made, a modern audience schooled and drenched in the gore fest that was to follow will have a palette so jaded that it may be difficult for them to see what makes this such an inspirational film, which has been copied over and over again.

The film is largely a homage to Richard Matheson’s great book I am Legend which itself has been made into three films, The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971) and I am Legend (2007), with the basic premise of a smaller number of survivors being assailed by a larger number of the undead. So what made the film so memorable?

For a start the violence is never played for kicks it just is, making the eating of human flesh all the more creepy. People’s reaction to the catastrophe is at times illuminating and at other times horrific. The gangs who get together to kill the zombies treat it like a fun day out as they shoot, club and dismember the corpses, and it is sometimes difficult to see the differences between the red necks and the zombies.

The biggest challenge to the audience was the inclusion of a racial element as one of the survivors in the house is an African-American, his inclusion allowed Romero not only look at racial issues but more importantly male machismo, which is what actually puts them all in danger.

Now, there is only so much you can do with a film when you decide to release it on Blu-ray. For modern films, this isn’t a problem, or if the studio wants to spend the money on restoring a film (Bladerunner 1982) the results can be stunning. But with films like Night of the Living Dead, which was shot on a modest budget in black and white with limited equipment, little can be done except to restore it to the best it can possibly be. This is not always the case though as the Blu-ray copy of Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stokers Dracula (1992) is just plain awful.

The print in a nice clean one, meaning they were either lucky enough to find a good source or some restoration work has been done. Audio is either DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 or Dolby Digital 2.0, to tell the truth I could find little difference between the two tracks. Aspect ratio is 1.33:1.

There is an extra on the disc in the form of George A. Romero Documentary - One for the Fire (25 min 52 sec), which reunites the two principle actors of Johnny and Barbara. Romero appears to talk about his early career and his company which produced advertisements, but just as its getting into the making of the film it ends, very odd. The check disc that we received were faulty and the full featurette will be approximately 90 mins in length.

In the end the film will be of interest to horror fans that are willing to take its age into account, but if you do like this film you are unlikely to find a print superior to the one on show.


Charles Packer

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