In this the third film in the continuing saga of the undead from writer/director George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead
), a small group of scientists and soldiers have taken refuge in an underground missile silo where they struggle to control the flesh-eating horror that walks the earth above. But will the final battle for the future of the human race be fought among the living or have they forever unleashed the hunger of the dead? Lori Cardille, Joe Pilato and Richard Liberty star in this controversial classic with groundbreaking gore effects by Tom Savini.
Pilloried at the time of its release in 1985, George A. Romero's Day of the Dead
has since enjoyed a major reappraisal by critics and fans who have come to view the film as the director's most savage sociopolitical polemic; that attitude is reflected in the reverential tone of the extensive special features for Scream Factory's Blu-ray presentation. As with other titles in the Shout Factory imprint's catalog, the extras compiled here are a mix of new material and older featurettes ported over from previous DVD releases, most notably the 2004 double-disc Divimax edition. The latter includes lively commentary by Romero, his leading lady Lori Cardille, special effects legend Tom Savini, and Romero's longtime production designer, the late Cletus Anderson, as well as a second track by Pulp Fiction
cowriter Roger Avary, a devout Romero fan. Camcorder-lensed test footage of various grisly effects culled from Savini's archives and a promo for Pennsylvania's Gateway Commerce Center, which served as the underground location for the film, have also been ported over from the Divimax disc, along with a mixed bag of theatrical trailers and television spots.
Chief among the new material on the Blu-ray is World's End: The Legacy of Day of the Dead, a making-of documentary/retrospective that features interviews with Romero, Savini, and a number of their longtime collaborators, including cinematographer Michael Gornick, composer/first assistant director John Harrison, and editor Pasquale Buba, as well as cast members Lori Cardille, Joseph Pilato, Howard Sherman, Terry Alexander, Gary Klar, makeup effects artists John Vulich and Everett Burrell, and even featured zombie players. The lengthy (90-minutes-plus) featurette covers nearly every aspect of Day's difficult gestation, from its aborted early draft and Romero's struggles with producers over ratings to the initial negative response and ultimate redemption in the eyes of fans and filmmakers alike. It's an informative, frequently funny (especially Savini and Pilato's contributions) and heartfelt production that should satisfy most Romero and Day admirers. The other new extra is Underground: A Look into the Day of the Dead Mines, a brief but polished return visit to the limestone caverns at Gateway; the rest of the supplemental features are rounded out by production and location photos and a dizzying array of promotional material, from cover art from numerous home video releases to Topps trading cards (!) and magazine scans. The Scream Factory Blu-ray is by no means the definitive presentation of Day of the Dead--the behind-the-scenes footage from the 1998 Anchor Bay release (some of which is glimpsed in World's End) and original script and production notes included in the Divimax version, as well as its own lengthy documentary featurette, The Many Days of Day of the Dead, are not included here, so collectors may want to hold onto those discs--but it's an exceptionally fine addition to any Romero and '80s horror fan's library. --Paul Gaita