Finally…….It has arrived. After months of speculation, and a fan backed campaign, MGM has relented, and issued the Return of The Living Dead Special Edition DVD. But, the question remains: Was it worth the wait?
I’ll skip the usual plot synopsis, as it can be read on my review of the Region 0 Pal release, but suffice to say if y’all like zombies, hot chicks, rock music, gore and comedy then this is the film for you. To me, the most startling part of the DVD is the new transfer. It is bloody superb (pun intended)! The colours are rich, the image mostly sharp, and the film is presented in a widescreen ratio for the first time. A large amount of grain is evident in the darker scenes, but given the low bidget nature of the film and its age (18 years, fact fiends) the picture hold up remarkably well.
The film looks like it cost at least twice as much as it did, thanks to the excellent set designs of William Stout (who can be seen in the film as a derelict leaning on a wall as the kids walk past. This film captures an ‘urban gothic’ look not seen before or since. The films soundtarck is still only a mono one, albeit a re-mixed digital mono track. Director O’Bannon has re-mixed the soundtrack so it matches how he originally mixed it, bringing some sound effects to the fore, altering some of the music cues (mostly timings), and generally making the dialouge much clearer. Of note, the track used in the movie by The Damned is missing from this edition, and has been replaced with another piece of music, although it is still credited at the end. The commentary by O’Bannon and Stout is fun, revealing a bit about the making of the film, and just how much O’Bannon wanted the gig.
The trailers are fun with a PG-13 version and the full 2:30min R-Rated version (also found on Tartans R0 disc). The TV spots are interesting, if only to see how 2 different basic ads could have so many minor variations applied to the sound to produce a raft of TV material. A short retrospective featurette is also included, which is quite informative, but way to brief. Alas, the disc dosent contain any of the fabled workprint footage, or the known to exist gag reel, (Perhaps MGM is saving them for an Anniversary edition in a couple of years?). Lastly, the sleve glows in the dark…..oh MGM you are really spoiling us…….Overall, this disc is vastly superior to the Tartan edition.
*****UPDATE September 2007*****MGM have re-issued RoTLD in the US/Canada in an updated edition. The new version contains the following additional extras:Commentary track with cast and crew members, all new RoTLD featurette with cast interviews, ‘Decade of Darkness’ featurette about 80s horror films, zombie subtitles, and a stereo sound mix. The disc also comes in some new cover art, and is available in a limited edition glow in the dark slipcase.