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Enter the Crypt as John "The Unimonster" Stevenson and his merry band of ghouls rants and raves about the current state of Horror, as well as reviews Movies, Books, DVD's and more, both old and new.

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15 September, 2007

DVD Review: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) Millennium Edition

THE MOVIE

What more needs to be said about this, arguably the most important Horror Film of the past fifty years? NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD marked the turning point, the dividing line between what had been and what was to be. The border between the Universal Monsters, Big Bugs, and Hammer Horrors of earlier, more innocent times, and the blood-drenched Grindhouse Gore-fests and Slasher films of the decade to follow was laid out by George Romero, a 28-year old industrial director working out of Pittsburgh, making his first feature film. He exceeded his wildest expectations, creating not only a movie that has terrified generations of horror fans, but a franchise that has lasted nearly forty years as well as inspiring scores of film-makers around the world.



THE DISC

Elite Entertainment’s Millennium Edition disc of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is easily the best presentation of the film that I have ever seen. Like most of us, I have multiple copies of this movie… VHS, dollar-store DVD, taped off cable dubs… all from 16mm prints of the film. Recently, a surviving 35mm print was found, and was the source for this transfer. In a word, it’s superb.

While it might be an exaggeration to say that it was like watching it for the first time, I can’t deny that it’s easily the best transfer I’ve ever seen of NOTLD. The sharpness and clarity of the Black & White photography comes through better than ever, allowing small details to stand out and the picture as a whole to have even greater impact.

The only flaw I found was that a few of the disc’s special features were inaccessible in one of my DVD players. Either the disc would stop completely, or go to a feature different from the one I had selected. This appears to be either a problem isolated to my DVD, or my player; however, it certainly doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the film itself.



THE SPECIAL FEATURES

When fans of ‘50’s and ‘60’s B-Horror look for a film that’s nearly forty years old, we consider ourselves lucky if the DVD release contains a single commentary track, and the range of features that we’ve grown accustomed to with new releases is usually an unfulfilled wish.

Not so with this edition. Seldom have I seen brand-new Hollywood blockbusters receive such a spectacular treatment as this—multiple commentary tracks, one with Romero, and the other featuring the surviving cast; interviews with Duane Jones and Judy Ridley; a parody of the movie, NIGHT OF THE LIVING BREAD; and assorted clips from Romero’s early work, as well as stills from the production and other goodies. I can’t imagine much more that they could’ve packed into this disc, and the only thing I could wish for is a deleted scenes section; though it’s entirely possible that there is no such surviving footage.

But that one omission won’t hurt your enjoyment of this DVD, and it certainly doesn’t detract from the wealth of features that are included.



IN CONCLUSION

Most of our readership probably owns at least one dollar store copy of this film already… after all, it’s long been in the Public Domain, and you might be asking if you really need yet another copy of this in your DVD inventory. Take my word for it—YES. If you have any measure of regard for this film, you need this disc in your library. From the beautifully restored transfer, to the wealth of special features, to the extremely reasonable cost of the disc, (listing for $24.95…) there’s every reason to add this one to your collection, and none that I can see not to do so.

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