Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Hi-Def Blood Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead

with Steven Duarte

Over the coming years the Blu-ray format will become the norm for home video. As manufacturing prices come down and High Definition TV sets become cheaper more and more people will adopt the newer format. This column will focus on Horror classics that have received the High definition treatment. While not a full review, I will focus on what the newer versions add and if you should shell out for these High definition releases.
This month’s column covers George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead.” (1978) This classic film received the Blu-ray treatment back on October 7, 2007 via Starz/Anchor Bay. If you have any remote interest in horror, then you have at least seen this film once. Horror fiends either already own this film or own multiple versions of the film that have been released over the years. The film has gone through various edits that have seen their own releases by different companies.
Versions of the film:
US theatrical version
Extended version
European version (Zombi)
Japanese version
Krekel’s ultimate final version (German)

The Blu-ray version of the film has only the US theatrical version which runs 127 minutes. Now on to the picture, do the extra lines of resolution really matter? I would have to say yes it does. Watching Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray was almost like watching it for the first time. While previous re-mastered versions have cleaned up much of the grain that was present on some older DVD releases of the film, this is the clearest that I have ever seen the film. Much more detail can be seen in both the interior and exterior shots of the film. This version has vibrant rich colors that have not been previously seen in the prior DVD versions. The extra resolution and vibrant colors shows the limitation of the special makeup effects that were used in the film. The blood in the film looks almost orange. In previous DVD versions this was not too much of an issue since the lower resolution of DVD’s did not show this. Granted we do not watch horror films to expect real blood and guts but it can take away from someone who already owns the DVD versions. The Blu-ray receives a Dolby Digital surround mix that does not make too much use of the rear surround speakers as I noticed much of the audio to come from the center channel.
Final verdict
This is a tough one since there are so many different versions out there. I would have to say if you already own the previous releases on DVD with the exception of Anchor Bay’s 4-disk Ultimate edition then the Blu-ray version is worth a buy. Now if you already own the Anchor Bay Ultimate version then you have all versions and special features and the Blu-ray version may not be as appealing to you. If you have never owned Dawn then the Blu-ray version is a no brainer.

--Steven M Duarte