Monday, September 3, 2012
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Restauriert & Neu Gemastert? Falsch!
Night of the Living Dead, the original 1968 classic by George Romero which sparked numerous zombie films through out the years. We all know the story, there's no need to go into it. It's a solid 5/5 film to me as it's the definitive classic zombie horror. The film is in the public domain, so, anyone can release it unless it's been new master created by another person that's been copyrighted. I'm slowly dipping my toes into the public domain and have been trying to secure a print for my own studio to use. We've seen numerous Blu-rays that are hit and miss. This release is a miss; one of the biggest misfires you have ever seen.
The video presented on this Blu-ray is upscaled 1080/50i. It's pretty bad. I watched it and the first time I saw it, I thought it was decent for an upscale, but upon really going in depth on the quality of the video, I was horrified over the image in general. This is not restored and remastered as stated in German. When I got the disc last October, I popped it in my external Blu-ray drive and the movie was just about 8GB. It's the size of a Dual Layer DVD. And the picture quality is worse than what Echo Bridge could deliver with the interlacing and jagged-ness of the upscaled image. Video scores a .5/5.
The English audio is under average at best on this copy of the film. However, the German dubbing has new techno-ish score that kicks off right as the film starts. It is kinda out of place, especially for the time frame from which this film was made. Especially at one point in the German dubbing, they must of had some scenes missing from their master and it flips over to English with German subtitles. This happens for about two minutes in length. These German subtitles are automatically on even if the audio is set to English. I was scratching my head the first time I watched it as these subs popped up. Audio scores a 2/5.
The extras would be phenomenal, if they weren't all upscaled to 1080/50i! The cover advertises at the top that his have the "Include 75 min Bonus Film 'Fright Night' (Francis Ford Coppola)"; this is not the vampire film Fright Night, but Francis Ford Coppola's 1963 film Dementia 13. I've seen Blu-ray covers in Germany giving the impression that it is the vampire flick instead of the serial killer on the family's estate film. Sadly, the quality of this transfer is a 4:3 non-anamorphic HD blow up, meaning that you got black bars on the top, bottom. left and right sides of the screen. And the film is dubbed in German with no English audio. This has to have been sourced from a VHS copy of the film. Nothing about it seems digital really. Run time on it; 1:14:34.
Then we have the One for the Fire documentary and once you press play on it and it has the somewhat remake B&W title opening to the original film, you see how horribly upscaled this is. It had to have been blown up from a non-16:9 source, so, 640x360 to 1920x1080. Seeing how blocky as hell everything is just horrifies me to no end. The documentary is fun to watch if you can stomach through the horrible image; run time on it is 1:23:53.
American theatrical trailer; 1:49. August 26, 2007 Interview with George A Romeo in Canada that is 15:48. December 13th, 1987 audio interview with Duane Jones which was done about seven months before the actor had passed away; 16:47. Oddly, none of these bonus materials have German subs.
Finally, a photo gallery of upscalled image. And two commentary tracks. First commentary is with George A. Romeo, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, and John A. Russo. Second audio commentary is with Russell Streiner, Vince Survinski, Judith O'Dea, Bill Hinzman, Kyra Schon, and Keith Wayne. I'm sure the die hard NOTLD fans will enjoy it. It was just average to me. The bonus would have scored much higher if it had been all HD instead of this blown up, interlaced bull. Extras score a 3/5.
This Blu-ray is region free, but it will not work in North American unless you have a Blu-ray player and a HDTV that is compatible with 50hrz content. My main player, Insignia NS-WBRDVD2, plays it fine. My PS3 on the other hand just gives me a black screen. Some of the other Blu-rays I own from Germany and the UK are 1080/50i; Casshern, The Crow, Meet Bill, and Transmorphers off the top of my head. But, that doesn't matter; those that I listed above have much better transfers than this release of Night of the Living Dead. If you are a collector of Night of the Living Dead releases, this is the only way I can recommend this release of the film. 2.5/5, avoid.