Quantcast

Dawn Of The Dead – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

When it comes to the early and mid-2000s, the trends in horror were all about remakes, leaning on J-horror (Remakes of Japanese horror films) and older classics. One of the big reasons the trend kept going for so long (Still around today) the film we have here; Zack Snyder’s redo of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.  Crazy enough, that film was thirteen years ago. Its been out on Blu-ray in just that one version since Blu-ray came out. Now, its time to give it an update, upgrade and make-over. And who better than Scream Factory to upgrade with some new interviews and both cuts of the film. As far as double dipping, c’mon its been thirteen years and most of you probably got it for under ten bucks when you did. My only gripe is that its this one getting an upgrade and not the original. But that’s not on Scream. Their new edition will be available to you to come home to after a good night of Trick or Treating on Halloween!

Film 

When her young daughter is turned into a zombie and attacks her father, Ana just manages to escape, only to realize her entire Milwaukee neighborhood has been overrun by the walking dead. After being questioned by cautious policeman Kenneth, Ana joins him and a small group that gravitates to the local shopping mall as a bastion of safety. Once they convince suspicious security guards that they are not contaminated, the group bands together to fight the undead hordes.

Following on the heels of the zombie rebirth with 28 Days Later (Eff off, you know it counts), Snyder’s take on Dawn of the Dead took the genre and modernized it even further, becoming quite the hit and becoming a breakout success for both he and writer James Gunn.  It was sacrilege to remake the George Romero classic, but damnit, they were going to do it anyway. And what they came out with created a fanbase of its own. Many different loads of them, those who were newbies and just hadn’t seen anything like it, the hardcore fans who realized both could exist, and then ones who found it better than the original.

What helps this film right from the start is a big time correct decision by James Gunn. He only uses the premise of the original, but writes a completely original movie and uses completely original characters around it. This approach should be used to most remakes as its really allows one to see it as its own with very little comparison. Gunn and Synder’s film is moreso a knock off of Dawn of the Dead as it is a remake. The studio wants the IP, of course, but this could be called Mall Of The Dead and people probably would’ve been less apprehensive of the whole “remake” thing. But once they saw it, I’m sure those worries went away. Yes, I know, there a probably still haters out there. Good fore you, hope you’ve found something you do enjoy.

This film is high octane and action packed. Snyder’s film may look slick, but its dirty, ugly and pulse poundingly intense from start to finish. Its as much of an action film as it is a horror one.  Snyder show’s he’s very stylish and instense and isn’t afraid to go to crazy, unpredictable places. Your heart will be racing throughout this movie. And the opening sequence with Sarah Polley attacked in her home, leading to a vehicluar escape with videogame-like angles to shoot it, is an ALL-TIME great prologue no matter what genre.

I still prefer the original Dawn of the Dead. For me, I’ve been with that movie since I was a kid, but I can wholeheartedly tell you that Snyder’s film is a great companion and modern update and really…its own thing. This is the easiest “They can both exist. You can love both” situations in film history. This one also has a great cast, especially Ty Burrell stealing scenes right and left. My one sour point is that Sarah Polley didn’t take off and become a huge acting star after this. But, she has become an important director and that may matter more when all is said and done. Anywho, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead rocks, and was the Friday the 13th to 28 Days Later’s Halloween in terms of resurrecting the zombie genre. A genre that is still kicking today after being 6 feet under for a little over a decade.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Scream Factory’s new edition boasts a new HD master derived from the digital intermediate archival negative for the theatrical cut, and that transfer is then mixed with HD inserts for the unrated material for the Unrated Version of the film. This also takes the encoding from the old VC-1 to MPEG-4 AVC. I’m sure this is going to come with debate among fans, but I was overall pretty happy with this picture. It appears to be a bit crisper and cleaner looking to my eyes with a little more detail available. There is a different filtering with the imagine in place and that’s very obvious. But where the previous one looks a little smoother, this one to my eyes looks a little more textured.

Depth:  Some solid depth here. Movements are smooth with minimal blurring and jittering when hyper movements or motions occur.

Black Levels: Blacks are really deep and consuming, detail is lost in many sequences on a uniform, clothing, surfaces and the like. There were some instances of light crushing in certain spots as well.

Color Reproduction: This movie has a greenish filter on it that comes off looking yellow at times. Its part of trying to make this thing look really slick. Its a washed out image, but blood red still looks pretty rich on it and Lindy Booth’s hair is very nice.. Blues come off look good.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a hair on the yellow/green side thanks to the filter in the film, looking a little bleached out here and there. Its due to a stylish choice and nobody looks unnatural. Facial features like dried blood, stubble, wrinkles, scars and more show through pretty good in close ups and medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: There is a little evidence of some compression issues, but they didn’t bother me all too much. Some probably will be pickier than others regarding it.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: I’m not sure as there were no notes in the press release or on the packaging, but I think the audio here is the same that was available on the Blu-ray release. That said, its very good as its loud, full of crazy action, with a balanced mix that gets gunfire and zombie rage all sorts of in your face in your living room (Or whereever it is you’re watching).

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Gunfire, explosions, music beats, intense stings, growls, crashing and more rumble your subwoofer with great delight.

Surround Sound Presentation: This mix has a good sense of travel back and forth up front. The back speakers get involved too, but they really excel in some delicious zombie ambiance that haunts both the outside and the halls of the mall.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are loud, crisp and clear.

Extras 

Dawn of the Dead – Collector’s Edition is a 2-Blu-ray Disc set. It features 2 versions of the film. The Theatrical Version is on Disc 1 and the Unrated Version is on Disc 2. All of the material on Disc 2 is from the previous Blu-ray release.

Disc 1: Theatrical Version

Take a Chance on Me (HD, 15:28) – An interview with actor Ty Burrell.  He talks about how he knew the film was special when shooting and that he was in disbelief as he auditioned as just a filler. He’s got a lot of praise for Zack Snyder and a good group of people, with many “play”-like sequences. Burrell says he prefers running zombies, but also says that they went for a more action movie approach than social commentary. And toward the end he unveils plans for a sequel that never happened.

Gunn for Hire (HD, 9:26) – An interview with writer James Gunn. A fan of the original, he was given a call to write and pitch this reimagining but he didn’t really pitch, just gave a single idea. Gunn says he was only interested in taking the premise of the original, but making a completely different movie. Death threats and petitions came his way when the news came of him remaking the film because of writing Scooby Doo movies.

Punk, Rock & Zombie (HD, 23:10) – An interview with actor Jake Weber.  The actor talks how he and Ty Burrell read together for the opposite parts they’d end up getting. He relishes in being able to craft his own character and play a sort of normal guy. Not normally a horror person, he does have a fond memory of working on Wendago. He calls it a rock n roll movie and that he’s done with horror films after it because he doesn’t think he’d ever be a part of a better one.

Killing Time at the Mall: The Special Effects of Dawn of the Dead (HD, 25:36) – An interview with special makeup effects artists David Anderson and Heather Langenkamp Anderson. The couple (Yes, that’s Nancy from Elm St), talks approaching a remake when they weren’t a thing and how they used war footage and trauma victim footage to get their ideas. They were given a heavy amount of pressure to succeed. This goes over their timeline, the craft, individual zombies and includes home video footage of the shop and behind the scenes of putting all the effects and makeup together.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary from Zack Snyder and Producer Eric Newman (SD, 11:30) – There is a spelling error on this screen calling him “Zach” Snyder.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:34)

Photo Gallery (HD, 8:12)

Disc 2: Unrated Version

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Zack Snyder and Producer Eric Newman

Zack Snyder Intro (SD, 1:18)

Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads Featurette (SD, 5:36)

Attack of the Living Dead Featurette (SD, 7:24)

Raising The Dead Featurette (SD, 7:54)

Andy’s Lost Tape Featurette (SD, 16:22)

Special Report: Zombie Invasion Featurette (SD, 21:05)

Undead And Loving It: A Mockumentary (SD, 5:09)

Drawing The Dead Featurette (SD, 2:48)

Storyboard Comparisons (SD, 5:51)

Summary 

Yeah, this one is a remake, but in premise only; its truly its own thing. And its one of the best zombie movies out there.  Scream Factory unleashes their big Collector’s Edition of it with a nice little uptick in the picture quality (I think the audio is the same). Its probably going to be debated whether or not this is “truly” better than the Universal disc. For me, I liked this picture better, but let your own eyes be the judge and go with what you enjoy. But, there’s no denying the extras on this one make this release a grand slam (Though, I wish there was a Sarah Polley interview)!

Share

Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

  1. No Comments