Diary Of The Dead

DVD Rating: ****1/2

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Read Tony Sullivan's film review of Diary Of The Dead
Diary Of The Dead

Audio-visual quality is fine, although anyone seeking a reference disc to show off their equipment should perhaps look elsewhere bearing in mind that Diary Of The Dead's aesthetic is very much lo-fi rather than hi-def.

The main extra on disc 1 is the commentary track with Romero, cinematographer Adam Swica and editor Michael Docherty. It's a worthwhile listen, with lots of useful background on the making of the film, like the speed and economic advantages of using CGI blood splatters over traditional squibs and the challenges of shooting a fiction film in an improvisational, handheld, cinema verite style, along with some of Romero's decidedly sceptical musings on contemporary culture and society.

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There is also a behind the scenes/promo featurette, Into the Camera, which includes interviews from Romero's actors, who all very much emphasise the director's vision without saying anything particularly astonishing or critical, although they do give some useful insight into their characters' backgrounds and motivations.

Finally, there is a 15-minute edited interview of Romero from a 2007 appearance, entitled Speak Of The Dead, covering territory that the longer term fan will be well versed in, such as the influence of EC comics; the influence of The Archers' Tales of Hoffmann; the history of the Living Dead films, and the director's periodic attempts at getting away from them, but which is welcome viewing nonetheless and provides a useful Romero primer for newcomers.

Disc 2, included in some versions of the DVD package - and specifically the Limited Edition steel tin edition - comprises a mass of extras:

Under the making of heading are four more promotional featurettes: Master Of The Dead, an interview with Romero on the film, accompanied by comments from his producers; A New Spin On Death, a look at the film's CGI effects; You Look Dead, an exploration of traditional effects, where Greg Nicotero notes the challenge of producing these "in camera" without cuts; and, finally, A World Gone Mad, examining the film's production design and cinematography and the thinking behind them - that, for example, the mummy costume one of the characters wears is deliberately low-tech to mirror the resources available to the student filmmakers.

Romero Speaks, presents another Romero interview, recorded at Frightfest 2008, in the UK, in which he talks direct to camera about Diary Of The Dead specifically.

Playing Dead encompasses Character Confessionals, in which the film's protagonists share their thoughts direct to the camera in the format of outtakes/edits not used in the film within the film, to give additional insights into the characters and the ways in which they respond to the crisis, and Familiar Voices, which reveals some telephone talk show voice-overs within the film to have been made by Guillermo Del Toro, Simon Pegg and Stephen King.

The shorts section includes two more shorts, Roots, outlining the basic idea of Diary of the Dead, and a brief segment about the first week's shooting, which shows just how quickly and efficiently Romero and his collaborators were working.

Pride of place, however - and the thing which makes the two-disc packages well worth purchasing for any Romero fan, regardless of what they may think of Diary itself or the other extras assembled here - is Another One For The Fire documentary, a feature-length look back at the making of Night Of The Living Dead with interviews with almost all of the surviving cast and crew; the film is dedicated to the late Karl Hardman, who died shortly afterwards and whose contribution is especially poignant for this reason.

Reviewed on: 06 Jul 2008
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Diary Of The Dead packshot
Film students try to record the end of civilisation as they know it when the dead begin to walk. Plus read our with George A Romero.
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Product Code: OPTD1093

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Commentary with Romero, editor Michael Doherty and Director of photography Adam Swica, Into The Camera featurette, Speak of the Dead: A highlight from George Romero's public speaking event in Toronto in August 2007, Master of the Dead:Interview with George A Romero, You Look Dead!: A look at the film's make-up effects, New 'Spin On Death': A detailed look at the visual effects work, A World Gone Mad: A look into the photography and design, The Lead Up To Diary, Character Confessionals, Familiar Voices, Another One For The Fire, Shorts: Roots and The First Week and

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