Night Of The Living Dead

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Anton Bitel's film review of Night Of The Living Dead
Night Of The Living Dead

This Special Collector's Edition, in limited edition steel packaging, has been fully restored and remastered to make it quite simply the finest quality version of the film ever to see the light of day - certainly much better than the cheap prints that were circulated to cinemas back in 1968. Besides the original mono version, there is an optional soundtrack in 5.1 Digital Surround Sound.

There is a choice of two audio commentaries. The first features co-writer/director George A. Romero, co-writer Jack Russo, co-producer (and "Harry") Karl Hardman and Marilyn ("Helen") Eastman, who discuss how the original script did not specify Ben's ethnicity (and that Duane Jones brought considerable changes to his characterisation), how the farmhouse, in fact, had no basement, how the Capitol police were convinced that the general's car in the Washington DC scenes was the real deal and how one of the principal investors owned a chain of butchers' stores. They also regularly point out all their friends and relatives in minor parts.

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In the second commentary, producer (and "Harry") Russ Streiner, Keith ("Tom") Wayne, production director (and posse member) Vince Survinski, Bill ("ghoul 1") Heinzman, Kyra ("daughter of Helen") Schon and Judith ("Barbra") O'Dea point out (correctly) that Keith Wayne blinks every time he opens his mouth and that the blood was chocolate. Streiner, meanwhile, declares that he still has (and wears) Johnny's tie and insists, in a perverse confusion of script and film, that "the film never addressed anything about the black/white relationships" - leaving one to wonder what he makes of the "lynching" imagery that accompanies the closing credits.

Also included are a selection of US theatrical and TV trailers (3min); Duane ("Ben") Jones's final interview (16min, audio only), in which he distances himself from the film, but admires its editing and intermixing of a professional and non-professional cast; Judith ("Judy") Ridley interviewed by Marilyn ("Helen") Eastman (16min) about Jones being "a very classy guy", her former marriage to Streiner and subsequent career as a food stylist, specialising in non-melting ice cream.

There are also two brief, but tantalizing, sequences from Romero's "lost" film, There's Always Vanilla, aka The Affair (5min); a fascinating photo gallery of items from the scrapbooks of Marilyn Eastman and Vince Survinski, including letters alluding to the notorious scandal, wherein the cast and crew never saw the film's vast profits; and a gallery of props, merchandise and stills.

Last, but not least, accessible via DVD-rom, is Jack Russo's original treatment (with notes) and the entire original script (in which Ben is an unrefined truck driver and Barbra survives).

Reviewed on: 10 Jan 2006
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Night Of The Living Dead packshot
Film that set the template for the modern zombie movie.
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Product Code: CTD10382

Region: 2

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

Extras: George A Romero audio commentary; cast audio commentary; oiriginal US theatrical and TV trailers; star Duane Jones’ final interview; interview with cast member Judith Ridley; selected scenes from Romero's lost film There's Always Vanilla; photo galleries and more

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