Return Of The Living dead is available on Blu ray on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK we have a release from Second Sight, which uses a 1080p scan provided by MGM. In the US, we have a different print scan created by Scream Factory. The Scream Factory scan is newer, and utilises a different master print (an original 35mm inter-positive). But how much of a difference is there? Well, lets take a look in our ROTLD UK vs US Blu Ray showdown!
ROTLD UK vs US Blu Ray Visuals:
Looking at this close up of Trash, you can see that the skin tones on the US release appear much more natural than those on the UK disc. It is also notable that the framing is slightly different, with the image being slightly cut off at the top, but with more image revealed at the base. This is likely due to a variance in the 1.85:1 masking applied to the open frame (4:3) original image. The US disc has a noticeably sharper image too, revealing more detail in the shot.
Again, in the US release, the colours are more natural, and less bright, revealing more detail in the image. The framing difference is again visible.
ROTLD UK vs US Blu Ray Audio:
Both films feature 2.0 and 5.1 audio mixes. The US release is a Dolby HD-Master Audio mix, whereas the UK disc is just a standard Dolby 5.1 mix. Both versions have alterations made to the original soundtrack, with neither featuring “Dead Beat Dance” by The Damned on the audio tracks. The US release however has a DTS Mono track which features the original voice recordings for the “Tarman” and “Send more cops” zombies (which was re-recorded by MGM way back when they issued their DVD editions).
ROTLD UK vs US Blu Ray Special Features:
More Brains! A Return To The Living Dead: The definitive 2 hour documentary featuring interviews with cast, writers, producers and many more, as well as previously unseen behind-the-scenes footage, storyboards, conceptual art, publicity materials and archival documents.
More Brains! 2 hours of Killer Bonus Features: A conversation with Dan O’Bannon: The Final Interview.
They Won’t Stay Dead: A look at Return Of The Living Dead Part II.
Love Beyond The Grave: A look at Return Of The Living Dead III.
Stacey Q Live: Exclusive ‘Tonight’ music video.
Even More Brains: Deleted documentary interviews.
Return of the Living Dead in 3 minutes.
Resurrected Settings: The Filming Locations Today.
The Origins of Return Of The Living Dead with John A. Russo.
The FX Of The Living Dead with production designer William Stout and FX make-up artists William Munns and Tony Gardner.
Party Time with music consultant Steve Pross and 45 Grave singer Dinah Cancer
Original Soundtrack: PCM 2.0
Remixed Soundtrack PCM 2.0
Remixed Soundtrack: DTS 5.1 Digital Surround
Exclusive to Bluray Steelbook – Ernie’s Notepad: a 20-page replica notebook by embalmer Ernie Kaltenbrunner, featuring production notes, casting information and exclusive artwork
-2K Scan of the Inter-positive.
-Audio Commentary with Gary Smart (Co-author Of The Complete History Of The Return Of The Living Dead) And Chris Griffiths.
-Audio Commentary With Actors Thom Mathews, John Philbin And Make-up Effects Artist Tony Gardner.
-Audio Commentary With Director Dan O’Bannon And Production Designer William Stout.
-Audio Commentary With The Cast And Crew Featuring Production Designer William Stout And Actors Don Calfa, Linnea Quigley, Brian Peck, Beverly Randolph, and Allan Trautman.
-“The Decade Of Darkness” – Featurette On ’80s Horror Films (23 minutes).
-Still Gallery – Posters, Lobby Cards, Movie Stills, And Behind-The-Scenes Photos.
-Still Gallery – Behind-The-Scenes Photos From Special Make-up Effects Artist Kenny Myers’ Personal Collection.
-Zombie Subtitles For The Film.
-“In Their Own Words:” The Zombies Speak.
-The FX of The Living Dead With Production Designer William Stout, FX Make-up Artists William Munns, Tony Gardner, Kenny Myers And Craig Caton-Largnet, Visual Effects Artists Bret Mixon And Gene Warren Jr., and Actor Brian Peck (Expanded Version) (30 minutes).
-“Party Time: The Music Of The Return Of The Living Dead” with Music Consultants Budd Carr And Steve Pross and Soundtrack Artists Dinah Cancer (45 Grave), Chris D (The Flesh Eaters), Roky Erickson, Karl Moet (SSQ), Joe Wood (T.S.O.L.), Mark Robertson (Tall Boys) Plus Musicians Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks), and John Sox (The F.U.’s, Straw Dogs) (Expanded Version) (30 minutes).
-“Horror’s Hallowed Grounds:” Revisiting the Locations Of The Film.
-“The Return Of The Living Dead” work-print – Includes 20 minutes Of Additional Footage (In Standard Definition).
-“More Brains: A Return To The Living Dead:” The Definitive Documentary On The Return Of The Living Dead (120 minutes).
-A Conversation With Dan O’Bannon – His Final Interview (28 minutes).
-“The Origins Of The Living Dead:” An Interview With John A. Russo (16 minutes).
-The Return Of The Living Dead – “The Dead Have Risen” – Interviews With Cast Members Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Brian Peck, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, Linnea Quigley, and more (21 minutes).
-“Designing The Dead:” Interviews With Writer/Director Dan O’Bannon And Production Designer William Stout (15 minutes).
So, both sets have unique features exclusive to them. This makes deciding on a “definitive” version somewhat difficult. The ideal situation is to be in my position, whereby you own both discs. That way you have all the available features, and the best prints & audio options. Sadly, the UK disc is long out of print, and often fetches quite a high price on auction sites.