We take a look at brand new special edition Blu-rays of 2005’s Land of the Dead and the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.
We lost the legendary George Romero earlier this year, but while he’s gone his films — and the films of those who he’s influenced — remain. Scream Factory’s releasing two new Romero-related Collector’s Editions, and both are stellar releases offering remastered pictures and lots of extras.
Land of the Dead (2005)
The dead walk across the land, and the living hole up in a walled city. Most of the populace exist at street level living day to day as they scrap for a living, but the wealthy enjoy extravagance in a high-rise looking over it all. What stands up must fall down, though, and when a horde of zombies that appear to be learning arrive at the front gates the safe haven becomes anything but.
George Romero’s original “dead” trilogy — Night, Dawn, and Day — remains an untouchable creation, and the films excelled at blending horror and so-called social thrillers decades before the likes of Get Out hit screens. Toss in some groundbreaking effects work (in the latter two particularly) and you have some of the best zombie movies ever made. Romero’s fourth entry (of six total) is a solid and fun movie in its own right, and while it offers some minor commentary on class its main joins come from action set-pieces and gory bits.
There is a fair amount of cg work here, both for big beats and bloody giblets, but it’s overshadowed by plenty of good old-fashioned practical bloodletting courtesy of two-thirds of the KNB boys. The unrated version in particular is loaded with bodies and body parts, and gory fx fans will not be disappointed. The story around it all is pretty straightforward, but the film keeps things entertaining and moving at an engaging pace.
Scream Factory’s two-disc Collector’s Edition includes both the unrated version and a new 2K scan of Romero’s theatrical cut. Numerous extras, new and old, are also spread across the two discs.
Blu-ray 1 R-Rated Version:
- *NEW* Cholo’s Reckoning: An Interview with John Leguizamo [15:37]
- *NEW* Charlie’s Story: An Interview with Robert Joy [15:09]
- *NEW* The Pillsbury Factor: An Interview with Pedro Miguel Arce [17:29]
- *NEW* Four of the Apocalypse: An Interview with Actors Eugene Clarke, Jennifer Baxter, Boyd Banks, and Jasmine Geljo [18:50]
- Dream of the Dead [24:40] – Roy Frumkes, who previously made a feature-length exploration of Romero’s films with Document of the Dead, offers a short follow-up on this fourth entry (optional commentary)
- Deleted scenes from “Dream of the Dead” [18:03]
- Deleted scenes [2:55]
Blu-ray 2 Unrated Version:
- *NEW* Commentary with zombie performers
- Commentary with writer/director George Romero
- When Shaun Met George [12:59] – Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg visit the set to cameo as zombies for their favorite filmmaker
- Bringing the Dead to Life [9:31] – featurette about Greg Nicotero (KNB)
- Scenes of Carnage [1:42] – like it says, scenes of carnage and flesh-eating… set to classical music
- Zombie Effects: From Green Screen to Finished Scene [3:18] – collections of shots showing how it looks before and after cg/optical/green screen effects added
- Scream Tests: Zombie Casting Call [1:05] – not quite what it sounds like as it’s instead cfx animation showing zombie-like figures doing the Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance
- Bringing the Storyboards to Life [7:54] – storyboard drawings are shown with actual scenes as they appear in the movie
- Undead Again: The Making of Land of the Dead [12:56]
- A Day with the Living Dead [7:34] – John Leguizamo hosts a behind the scenes look at the film, and it’s quickly made clear that he should do this for every movie he stars in
Buy Land of the Dead Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
A calm morning is shattered by car alarms, sirens, and the screams of the dying, but the day gets far worse from there. A zombie plague has been unleashed with the undead attacking the living and creating more undead in the process. Now a handful of survivors have gathered together in the safety of a shopping mall, but the refuge soon comes to an end.
Romero’s 1978 classic might not have seemed like the obvious choice for a remake, and director Zack Snyder and and writer James Gunn seemed far from the ideal filmmakers to make it, and yet… the movie kicks all kinds of ass. It retains the original’s core setting while expanding the characters, narrative, and more — in short, it’s the right way to handle a remake. The opening sequence is among the best you’ll find in a horror movie, and still the best of Snyder’s career, and the whole just satisfies through to the end. (Yes, the end occurring through the end credits.)
It’s almost as much of an action movie as it is pure horror, and the two genres meld well in Snyder’s hands. We get all of the expected gory bits and more as bodies are shot up, torn apart, and chewed, but the film also delivers some big set-pieces as characters attempt various stabs at escape and defense. We get the expected ensemble character-wise with some we like and others we despise, but happily the “bad” guys are brought to such perfect life by the likes of Ty Burrell and Michael Kelly that we enjoy their presence even as we want them dead. It’s a fun, thrilling ride and one of the best horror remakes out there. (If only the Night and Day remakes had received the same care.)
As with Land of the Dead, Scream Factory’s new Collector’s Edition of Snyder’s film features both the unrated version and a 2K scan of the theatrical cut. Special features are plentiful and split between the two Blu-rays with new material located on the first disc.
Blu-ray 1 R-Rated Version:
- *NEW* Take a Chance on Me: An Interview with Ty Burrell [15:28]
- *NEW* Gunn for Hire: An Interview with James Gunn [9:26]
- *NEW* Punk, Rock & Zombie: An Interview with Jake Weber [23:10]
- *NEW* Killing Time at the Mall: An Interview with Special Makeup Effects Artists David Anderson and Heather Langenkamp Anderson [25:36] – (Yes, that Heather Langenkamp)
- Deleted scenes [11:30] – with optional commentary
Blu-ray 2 Unrated Version:
- Commentary with Zack Snyder and Eric Newman
- Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads [5:36]
- Attack of the Living Dead [7:24]
- Raising the Dead [7:54]
- Andy’s Lost Tape [16:22] – Essentially a short film offering a found footage look into the life of a sporting goods shop owner
- Special Report: Zombie Invasion [21:05] – Another “in world” short in the form of a newscast
- Undead and Loving It: A Mockumentary [5:09]
- Drawing the Dead [2:48]
Buy Dawn of the Dead Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Related Topics: Home Video