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DVD Shopping Bag: Day of the Dead Blu-ray
The Monkey Farm Reopens!
By Robert T. Trate
September 17, 2013
One of the fascinating things about George Romero’s “Dead” Trilogy (when it was still a trilogy) was how it was all made by different studios. This meant none of the music or characters could carry over from one film to the next. This is also very freeing. The world, as we know it, has gone to hell and the dead literally walk the Earth. Romero kept a lot of the same crew from Night of Living Dead until Day of the Dead and even used a few of the same actors, many of which went from bit players to lead roles. Day of the Dead is the third and final of installment of Romero’s Trilogy. Shout! Factory’s horror division, Scream Factory, has released yet another stellar Blu-ray that any and all horror fans need. Let’s get into the Day of the Dead Collector’s Edition.
This is a tougher subject than any other here at Mania. The first being that I want to discuss the film itself and the other is the Blu-ray. Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way and then rip into the “Monkey Farm” that is Day of the Dead.
With each release, Scream Factory highlights the cultural significance and endurance of these modern horror classics. It isn’t the rehash of special features that have either survived from the film’s birth or countless other releases. No, it is Scream Factory’s desire to bring together as many collaborators as possible to talk about the history of the film and its role in modern cinema. Most people wouldn’t sit through a 95 minute documentary about a movie that came and went at the box office in 1985. Those very same people aren’t buying this release, ever. No, the tried and true horror fans are going to drool while watching “The World’s End: The Legacy of Day of the Dead”. This look back features every surviving cast member and a large portion of the crew. Here, you will learn why Romero had to scale back the production and why he made two other films (Knight Riders and Creepshow) first and how Day of the Dead couldn’t escape Dawn of the Dead’s shadow. The Blu-ray transfer has never looked better until you see the VHS playbacks that have survived. The film looks as if it was made today, outside of a few make up lines on the human actors. Otherwise, Bub and his buddies are as great as they ever were, a far better threat than those faced by Brad Pitt in World War Z. This is, hands down, the definitive Collectors Edition of Day of the Dead.
“The Dead Walk!”. It is crazy to think that now there is a weekly zombie TV series on AMC. The Walking Dead explores all kinds of themes that Robert Kirkman extrapolated on from films such as Day of the Dead. In the film, John (Terry Alexander) and Sarah (Lori Cardille) have this brief, but poignant exchange:
Sarah: Maybe if we tried working together, we could ease some of the tensions. We're all pulling in different directions.
John: That's the trouble with the world, Sarah darlin'. People got different ideas concernin' what they want out of life.
It really is the point that Romero is trying to bring home. We see the insanity that the scientists and non-military personal are trying to live with. The scientists believe they can find a reason and, perhaps, even a cure to what has happened. The members of the military see this as war and a war that has to be won. The best way to win is to kill your enemies. A movie like this, which has two different factions, is fascinating to watch and discuss with a group of people. Some may fall on the side of the military. Others may fall with the scientists. Yet, there is that third faction that will just run and never stop running. The insanity of Rhodes (Joseph Pilato) is warranted as his men are dying in vain attempts to study the zombies. In contrast, Sarah’s reasoning for finding a cure and an understanding of it all is extremely appealing. Each want something different, but it is their failure to compromise which brings an end to both camps. Thus, different ideas about how to live what little life they have left.
This is an interesting zombie apocalypse film in that it really feels like the end. Perhaps that was because Romero saw it, at the time, as the final chapter. Night of the Living Dead was day one. Dawn of the Dead felt a like a week or two later. Day of the Dead has people living underground and out of answers. It is a fascinating study of both the human condition and faith in one’s ideals. Romero would return to the zombie genre again, but his “final” story might be the one that will haunt us for all time... that mankind will never learn its lesson.
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