Night of The Living Dead: Millennium Edition DVD Review
Review by Peter West
DVD released by Elite Entertainment
Directed by George A. Romero
Written by George A. Romero and John A. Russo
1968, Region 1 (NTSC), 88 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on March 12th, 2002
Duane Jones as Ben
Judith O'Dea as Barbra
Karl Hardman as Harry Cooper
Marilyn Eastman as Helen Cooper
Keith Wayne as Tom
Judith Ridley as Judy
Kyra Schon as Karen Cooper
Charles Craig as Newscaster
Bill Heinzman as Cemetery Ghoul
Barbra and Johnny set out lay a wreath on the grave of their father; A task they perform every year since their mother is too ill to make the three hour ride. While reminiscing earlier trips, Johnny reminds Barbra of a game they used to play where he taunted her saying "They're coming to get you, Barbra!" Seeing a man walking near them, Johnny says "Here's one of them now!" Barbra goes to apologize to the man, who then attacks her setting the stage for the Night of the Living Dead that is to follow. Johnny gets killed while saving Barbra from the Ghoul. In fear of her life, Barbra runs to a nearby farmhouse where she encounters a partial eaten victim of the living dead.
Soon Barbra is joined by Ben, a traveler who has happened upon the house. Barbra is in such shock that she is barely able to explain to Ben what is happening. Ben starts boarding up the windows and doors to prevent the ghouls from entering the house. They soon find out they are not alone. Tom & Judy, a couple who arrived earlier along with Harry and Helen Cooper with their injured daughter Karen (bitten by a ghoul) have been hiding in the basement. Harry is adamant that the basement is the only safe place from the living dead.
Television reports explain the phenomena as a result of radiation from a probe to Venus that reactivates the dead and sets them off eating the living. Acting on a report from the television news, Ben and Tom attempt to gas up Ben's truck. Judy joins Tom in the truck, but an accident while fueling kills Tom & Judy and the ghouls begin the now famous "feast of the living dead". Ben makes it back to the house and catches Harry attempting to lock himself along with his family and Barbra in the basement.
A fight ensues and Harry tries to steal the gun from Ben, who then shoots him just as the living dead break down the doors. Barbra, stunned by seeing Johnny as a ghoul, is dragged out of the house. Harry , who is mortally injured by the gunshot, stumbles into the basement and is set upon by his now dead daughter who proceeds to consume him. Helen follows Harry in the basement is then viciously hacked to death by her daughter. Ben seeks shelter in the basement and dispatches the dead with gunshots to the head. Morning comes and the struggle of the night is over. Ben hears dogs and gunshots outside. Is he going to finally get rescued after this night of terror? Ironically the local "good old boys" mistake Ben for a ghoul and with one shot to the head, kill Ben.
I strongly recommend buying this title even if you own the earlier edition from Elite. This movie truly changed the horror movie industry. The "dead" consuming the living was a thought so abhorrent to human nature and so dreadful it brought out the worst fears in humanity. The makers of this film were talented people in the industry who specialized in commercials, which explains the wonderful editing in this film and how it's fast pace holds your eyes to the screen. No collection is complete without this DVD.
Video and Audio:
Even at the theater, prints of Night of the Living Dead were of dubious quality. I saw this movie many times at the drive in. Elite Entertainment has THE definitive version of this movie. In 1995, for Christmas I received the Elite Laserdisc version. The intro starts with the old, faded and blurred version appeared then it turned into a THX logo. This beautiful edition appeared it signaled a new era in the way horror movies were treated. I own all three versions Elite has put out of this title and they are all stunning!
There are two versions of the soundtrack a Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 version on the DVD. Where the 5.1 is great, I prefer the old 2.0 version. Blame that on nostalgia. The soundtrack, which is more reminiscent of the 50's then the 60's is blended with erie sounds, especially during the "feast of the dead". Primitive, but effective.
- Newly Approved THX Transfer
- Trailers/TV Spots
- Dual Commentary Tracks featuring George A. Romero and the Entire Cast
- Film Parody "Night of the Living Bread"
- Original Mono Soundtrack
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Remix
- Still Photo Gallery Featuring RARE COLOR Photos
- The History of Romero's Company, The Latent Image
- Scenes from the "Lost" Romero Film, There's Always Vanilla
- Liner notes by George A. Romero and Stephen King
- AND MORE!
This is where the new DVD from Elite separates itself from the earlier release. The 1997 DVD was one of the first titles on the market and technology did not allow all of the extras that were on the Collectors Edition LD to be included. For those who missed out on the LD, you can finally own the definitive version of Night of the Living Dead. All other versions pale in comparison. Highlights of the extras are (2) commentary tracks, trailers and television spots, a film parody called "Night of the Living Bread",which is a amusing parody. There are also still photos, correspondence from the actors looking for royalties, an interview with the late Duane Jones (Ben), and samples of other work from George A Romero.I enjoyed the commentaries. They were insightful, and at times humorous. You could really tell the people involved were enjoying the reminiscing.