DAY OF THE DEADDIVIMAX DVD REVIEW | Aug 22, 2003
Kind of funny that in a zombie film, the character you most care about is a zombie.
Well, I’m back again with another DVD Review. This Tuesday I picked up the Day of the Dead DIVIMAX DVD, and man, this disc is nice! DIVIMAX is Anchor Bay’s new DVD line for cult films that have been cleaned up and re-mastered in High Definition. Usually they say re-mastered in Hi-Def but the film still looks like shit. Not the case with this disc. You’ve never seen Day of the Dead look this good! My jaw dropped once the film started. It’s that much of a difference!
Now for all of you that don’t know Day of the Dead, you better get your ass to the video store right away. You have no excuse. Don’t come back until you’ve seen all three Dead films in order.
Anyways back to the film.
The first time I saw Day, I wasn’t that sure whether I liked it or not. The second time I liked it a bit better, and now, upon watching it a third time, I would have to say it’s my favorite of the three. It’s rare a film can get that much better with repeat viewings, but Day of the Dead is one rare gem of a film. Packed to the brim with biting social commentary, top notch gore-fx by Tom Savini, and kickass zombie action, this is truly the thinking man’s zombie film.
With that in mind, you have to pay attention to the dialogue in this film. There are no superfluous conversations in this film. Each argument, conversation, and character action is there in order to make a point about the nature of humanity, our inability to change, and our futile attempts to hold on to normalcy in times of crisis. This film is a lot darker than the previous two, but it has to be. It’s about humanity’s final struggle in the last hours of the Zombie Apocalypse. There are only a handful of survivors, a group of scientists and a group of soldiers. They don’t have much time, food, energy, or manpower left, and with constant bickering between the two groups, things are only going from bad to worse.
Of course you’re supposed to despise the soldiers and identify somewhat with the scientists in this film, but the character you sympathize most with is Bub, the zombie lab rat of Dr. M. “Frankenstein” Logan. It’s strangely touching to see the big zombie’s gears turning as he desperately tries to understand his new set surroundings and state of being, all the while learning to be “civil” through a system of Pavlovian reinforcement. Kind of funny that in a zombie film, the character you most care about is a zombie. But why not? As it presents the whole “We are them” argument throughout the film, and of course does so much more effectively than in 28 Days Later. Also of note is the fact that even though society has collapsed, the soldiers still insist on dressing in uniform. You can read quite a bit into that, but I’d better cut this short. I could go on for days about the wonderful ideas in this film.
Day of the Dead is a much better movie than I had previously thought. I am in love with this film. The story still holds up over time and is just as relevant today as it was when it was first released back in 1985. Also standing the test of time are the special effects. Many many effects look much better than any cg assisted prosthetics you would see on the screen today. Tom Savini is a god. Even if you didn’t like this movie at first, go check it out again. I little time can give you a completely different perspective on the film, and you may just love it as much as I did upon my third viewing.
NOW for the special features. This 2-disc set is packed, and all supplementary material is actually relevant to the film, which is sort of refreshing.
On disc 1 you have two commentary tracks, one from Romero himself along with Tom Savini, production designer Cletus Anderson, and star, Lori Cardille. The second track features Roger Avary, the unsung co-writer of Pulp Fiction and man who actually was brought in to smooth out the script for True Romance. (The day Quentin gives this guy the credit he deserves I’ll eat my hat.) The guy has a lot of intelligent things to say and is much more modest than Quentin. I haven’t listened to both commentaries in their entirety yet, so I’ll post with my thoughts on them at a later time.
On disc 2 you have a new, fairly informative, 39 minute, retrospective documentary called The Many Days of Day of the Dead. You also have 31 minutes of some nice behind the scenes footage of Tom Savini at work in the aptly titled Day of the Dead: Behind the Scenes. (there’s nothing as cool as seeing makeup effects and squib tests. “Maximum bad-assicity!”)
In addition to the two main attractions you have an audio interview with Richard Liberty, the Wampum Mine Promotional Video, your standard theatrical trailers, tv spots, gallery of posters and advertising art, memorabilia galleries, Zombie make-up galleries, continuity stills gallery, and a bio of George romero. All in all 2 kickass short “documentaries” and a shitload of galleries. Of course if you have a dvd rom drive you can access te original screenplay and see how much the film changed from script to screen.
I’m not much for special features. Most of the time I never even bother watching the the filler that gets shoved onto pretty much every movie these days. But I found most of these fairly interesting. The Tom Savini makeup tests I would definately watch again. The only other special features I watched twice were the docs on the Evil Dead discs.
All in all this is a solid disc, for an outstanding film. The picture is excellent, the sound excellent, and the film blew me away. If you’re a zombie fan you owe it to yourself to pick this disc up.