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on April 25, 2004
I have heard of George Romero's classic zombie movie that will scare the hell out of you. But of course with today's standard of horror & gore movies, this one will either make you laugh silly or with a blank stare. Still, if you understand what Romero's trying to do here, you'll understand the importance of his directorial full feature length movie that doesn't cost a lot in production but really brings what many have copied to this day.
The movie alone is a good watch. With unknown actors then, the fun part is 6 total strangers trying to survive an ordeal throughout the night with zombies banging at their doorstep, but the fight is actually within them on how to get out alive without fighting among each other. The ending is the biggest twist that will leave you either shock or despair.
The special features so far for this edition is a fun watch. Documentaries, scrapbook gallery stills and clips or Romero's commercial ads, plus a whole bunch of stuff that is worthy to be called a Millennium Edition.
My only regrets is I heard there is a 15 minute deleted scenes in other editions and this one doesn't have it.
Still, all in all its worth the collection to be put on your shelve. A classic indeed that even Tom Savini's remake doesn't live up to it.
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on August 17, 2003
The Night of The Living Dead is one of the scariest films ever made, and one of my all time favorites, a classic film that has earned through the years a cult and loyal following worldwide, an excellent feature debut of underrated director George Romero.
So a 30th anniversary edition was eagerly anticipated, trusting the filmmakers and studio to offer fans a real treat that is worthy of the status the film enjoys.However,I was disappointed for several reasons,
There are many classic films that have additional unseen footage added to their DVD release or re-release, scenes that were too long to inculde in the theatrical release (Dances with Wolves, Amadeus),or scenes that the director and/or studio decided to cut for artisitc reasons (Exorcist), only to be added later and marketed cleverly. However, it is a rarity that filmakers would go to the trouble of filming additonal footage and drop it in the original.This can be a hit and miss venture, a very precarious decision that can enhance the film or diminish it.
In the case of Night of the Living Dead, the new scenes were added, primarily as the film makers claim to give more backgroud to the story, more than they could have done back in '68.But personally I think it was a mistake (for me what makes Night of Living Dead a classic is the when and where and not the why of zombies). The first mistake is to include new scenes at the beginning and end of the film, a very sensitive area to tamper with, for the original film's power lies in the opening scene of the car driving through the cemetry, setting from the first second a mood that is carried through till the last frame. To add a new scene of the burial of the original zombie, kind of deflates this mood.
The ending of the original film is extremely powerful, unexpected and ironic and leaves the viewer with a sense of tension that lingers long after, and to add scenes of the reporter and a demented priest to the ending gives the film an unnecessary reasoning. While the few additional scenes dropped in the middle of the films of zombies roaming the woods do not add anything to the film.
Finaly I was disappointed with the making of featurette. For the 30th anniversary I would have imagined that there will be many on camera commets and anecdotes (this is reserved for the audio commentary), and what we get instead is just a nine minutes long making of the new additional scenes featurette.
So if you are a fan of the film, by all means add it to your collection, for it is a disturbing horror film the kind of rarely made these days, one that should remain untouched.
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on February 5, 2003
I've been wanting to see this movie for years. Unable to find it for rent, I decided it was better to buy the cheapest DVD version available that kept the original soundtrack. Thanks to countless reviews on Amazon, I avoided the '30th Anniversary Edition" which is supposed to be a butchering of the original cut. I decided against the Elite version because it was too expensive, and would have kicked myself if I hated the movie when it arrived.
After watching my chosen "Good Times" DVD, I am glad I spent the very low amount to buy this movie. While the transfer isn't brilliant, it's far from poor. It's watchable, and the original soundtrack is satisfactory. The movie itself ended up not really being my cup of tea so I'm glad I didnt opt for the Elite expensive version.
The "Good Times" version states that its Digitally Remastered. I think they've done an okay job on the transfer. Like I said earlier, it's not great, but for [money], what more could you ask for if you a first timer to this movie?
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on February 3, 2003
Here's the movie that revolutionized a flm genre and maybe even the film business. This 1968 black-and-white shocker was made for nothing in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and went on to become a huge hit. After "NOTLD," horror movies would get grittier and gorier, and independent films suddenly became viable money-making propositions. For better or for worse.
35 years after its release, NOTLD is still a wonder of economic storytelling (literally and otherwise). The action begins almost immediately -- we're maybe five minutes into the picture before that first zombie appears, killing a young woman's brother and chasing her until she finds refuge in a farmhouse. She's soon joined by six other folks -- they've had run-ins with zombies too. They should all band together to fight off the ever-growing horde of zombies massing outside, but they can't stop fighting each other.
That's pretty much it. Call it a horror haiku.
NOTLD is also an interesting product of its time. Race is clearly an issue -- our hero is a black man, the only one in the film -- and the general tone is one of frustration and pessimism. The surprise ending even recalls the nihilistic French thriller "Wages of Fear." This is a world gone crazy, and if you get a break, chances are it won't last.
There are also great moments of high camp in all this, of course -- most notably the news broadcasts our heroes watch for updates on the zombies' progress. "They're dead," explains a zombie-slaying sheriff to a reporter, "They're all messed up."
You can probably find a better DVD edition of this film -- hence my three-star rating. The interactive trivia game feature is techically interesting but brief, and *really* easy. There's one text biography (of the lead actor), one lobby card reproduction, and a list of credits. Feels pretty half-assed to me, considering the importance of the film.
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on August 7, 2002
I spent my entire life from the age of six hearing great things about this movie. Things like 'Dont watch this movie alone' and 'This is one of the best horror films ever made,'so as you can imagine I took the first chance I could to buy it when I saw a colour version for £4 at a market stall. I just couldn't wait to go home and put it into my VCR. As soon as the film started it hit me that I didnt have a clue what anyone was saying. By the end of the film I was ready to go to sleep. The zombies were just random people with a bit of face paint on and weren't scary at all, but then again what were they to for special effects back then. I just thaught never mind and put it away to the back of my video collection. A couple of years later while being really bored in the school holidays I decided to play it again. This time it was later on at night, so I drew the curtains and turned all of the lights off (its the only way to watch this film really). This time around I found it a little less boring. I refrained myself from falling asleep listening to the ramblings and bad acting and found that this time around I enjoyed it a lot more and in the dark the atmosphere seemed to grow on me. I started to undestand then why it was considered to be a 'great' horror movie. These days I would not call it that though seeing as I am a victim of modern standards addicted to million dollar special effects and computer generated images but for any collector of classic horror its a must. My advice would be to pick up a more recent copy like the 30th anniversary addition as hopefully the sound and picture have been tweaked slightly so to erase that feeling of 'what the hell is going on'. If any horror film (or any film) fans want to E-Mail me and talk im at ...
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on February 5, 2002
What more can be said about Night of the Living Dead? It's a great movie and made even better thanks to crisp clean DVD technology. To be honest, this version doesn't cost that much (...) and because of that, you aren't getting many extras. The sound is pretty bad, but the picture is clean and free of artifacts. The included extras are bios on some of the actors, a screenshot of the poster on the front of the DVD case and a rather pointless "interactive" trivia game which asks you a question, and regardless if you're right or wrong, it plays a segment from the scene in the question. No deleted scenes, commentary, or any other cool features which we've become accustomed to seeing in our DVD's. It should be noted that the text in the bios features is a bit on the small side and can be hard to read on anything less than a composite video output.
The price is right and any movie lover (and video gamer who has played the Resident Evil series) should add this to their collection. I understand that there is a "limited edition" DVD version of NOTLD, but it's hard to get and costs 2 or 3 times as much. You can't do wrong by buying this version, just don't expect much in the way of extras.
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There are some good ideas here which could have benefited from more attention to detail. I liked the way that Barbra sought refuge first with her brother, to no avail, then in her car, again without success, and then in the house. This is a good way of building up the fear and the audience's knowledge of the power of the ghouls. It is worth noting that in a crisis such as this the danger might not come from the so called baddies, but from the idiots who are supposed to be on your side. There are some nicely composed shots but the overall effect is spoiled by poor editing that often gives the effect of jump cuts. The acting is variable. It's lucky that Duane Jones is reasonably good, because the main female lead Judith O'Dea is awful. Having said that, the overall effect is quite clever, with feelings of relentless attack and claustrophobia heightened by the old farm house setting. The creatures' origins are explained in a radio broadcast which must be a homage to Orson Welles's version of H.G.Wells's War Of The Worlds, and the television broadcasts seem quite realistic too. It's worth noting that nowhere in this film is the term 'Zombies' used, these are just recently dead people who came back to life and started committing murders! All in all, a good film which set the pace for the slasher movies of the 1970s and 1980s, and a promising start to a directorial career.
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There are some good ideas here which could have benefited from more attention to detail. I liked the way that Barbra sought refuge first with her brother, to no avail, then in her car, again without success, and then in the house. This is a good way of building up the fear and the audience's knowledge of the power of the ghouls. There are some nicely composed shots but the overall effect is spoiled by poor editing that often gives the effect of jump cuts. The acting is variable. It's lucky that Duane Jones is reasonably good, because the main female lead Judith O'Dea is awful. Having said that, the overall effect is quite clever, with feelings of relentless attack and claustrophobia heightened by the old farm house setting. The creatures' origins are explained in a radio broadcast which must be a homage to Orson Welles's version of H.G.Wells's War Of The Worlds, and the television broadcasts seem quite realistic too. It's worth noting that nowhere in this film is the term 'Zombies' used, these are just recently dead people who came back to life and started committing murders! All in all, a good film which set the pace for the slasher movies of the 1970s and 1980s, and a promising start to a directorial career.
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on July 17, 2001
For it's 30th anniversary edition, John A. Russo has directed over 15 minutes of new scenes edited into the picture. Though it's not noted on the box, other scenes came out to make room for the new ones. Probably not the smartest move, because left intact the movie would still be under two hours. Any why cut anything of the original film? New scenes include a new beginning and a new conclusion, and shots of zombies roaming the countryside. One interesting sequence has a family killed in roadside car accident slowly coming back to life. But other than that the new scenes don't seem to fit into the picture very well, and don't seem to do anything to enhance the story. You can tell the difference between the new and old footage. The new beginning includes scenes with the cemetery zombie (Bill Hinzman), and the 30 year difference between his new footage and 1968 footage is painfully obvious. I'm not crazy about the new musical score, either. I thought the original score was more effective, even though George Romero is said to have disliked it. In fact, I wouldn't have tampered with a thing. Shown in full-frame. Also included is the original version, with the new musical score. Extra features include a behind-the-scenes featurette, with cast and crew patting themselves on the back in this endeavor, the theatrical trailer, a still gallery, audio commentary with John A. Russo, Bill Hinzman, Russ Streiner, and Bob Michelucci, a scene from the Bill Hinzman feature "Flesh Eater", a "Dance of the Dead" music video (don't ask) and 32 page collector's booklet. All the bonus material is centered around the new scenes. Die-hard fans of the original may want to stick with that one.
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on June 24, 2001
This version (The Elite Special Edition) Is a very good quality version of the original film in it's original form. No additional footage or music has been added and the quality is about as good as they could get it.
If you are just interested in a plain no frills, but great quality copy of the original release, this is it.
The menus are cheesy, there are no inserts or books listing the scene numbers and the DVD does not even have any title on it except for around the the center hole where it says the movie name one side and a note to play the opposite side on the other.
All you get is the case with a nice colored cover and the DVD... PERIOD.
The DVD does include some small commentaries and a funny movie called "Night of the living bread", sort of a spoof.
When I first was looking for a good quality copy of this film I read all the reviews for both this one and the 2 30th Anniversary versions.
I bought this one due to all of the suggestions. I was fairly dissapointed, for the money it cost.
I then found the 30th Annaversary (Limited Edition) and bought that and was pleasently surprized.
If you are a die hard fan of the film, as I am, buy both. This will give you literaly 3 different versions of the film. The original, in this version, and 2 others in the 30th Annaversary version.
Buy this only as a last resort, as the 30th Annasversary edition is getting hard to come by, especialy the Limited Edition (see my review for those other 2)
I hope my review has been of some help.
Cheers,
Joe
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