With the recent passing of director George A. Romero, the horror community, and the entertainment world, realized just how big a part of film history he was. He is mainly remembered as the director of the Living Dead movies, the father of the modern zombie, and the man who blended horror with social commentary. And while he definitely made some phenomenal films outside of his zombie oeuvre, the film series that started with Night of the Living Dead in 1968 will always be remembered as his greatest legacy. Shout Factory this month is releasing two new Collector’s Editions that are essential for every horror fan’s collection; Land of the Dead, Romero’s fourth film in the series, and Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead.
George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead stars Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento and others as inhabitants of the world years after the zombie apocalypse has claimed society. Living within a walled in city run by Kaufman (Hopper), the tensions rise as a revolution begins to overthrow the power elite as the zombie population outside the walls evolve to become even more of a threat as they actually begin to evolve and think for themselves.
Land of the Dead is a criminally underrated gem. Not only does it sport an amazing cast, but it has great humor, fantastic action sequences, great CG and practical FX and in addition to the great Romero undertones about society, it is just plain fun. Leguizamo, Baker, Argento and Hopper all seem to be having a great time and play well off of each other, the pace is fast and tight and the production design is impressive for a $15 million-dollar movie. The new Land of the Dead Collector’s Edition boasts new 2K scans of both the theatrical and uncut versions of the film, 4 new interview featurettes and a new audio commentary, and tons of archival special features. Zombie fans, this one is a must have.
Dawn of the Dead follows Ana (Sarah Polley), a nurse, who wakes to find her world thrown into chaos as a mysterious outbreak causes the dead to come to life to feed on the living. After barely escaping her overrun neighborhood Ana meets up with a police officer, Kenneth (Ving Rhames) and a few other survivors who take refuge in the deserted Crossroads Shopping Mall. But as supplies start to run low and the group starts to have internal problems with each other, they must find a way to survive outside the mall if they are going to survive at all.
Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead is an untouchable masterpiece which makes it all the more incredible that Zack Snyder managed to pull off such an amazing remake. The screenplay by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) brilliantly pays homage to the original while not copying it at all. It exists in its own world with its own story and characters and does so impressively well. The ensemble cast is top notch featuring Polly, Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell and Michael Kelly all working off each other very well. The mall setting is retained but used in new and inventive ways with a fast paced, horror and action filled roller coaster ride of a movie. And it sports what may be one of the best opening sequences of any horror film in history. Dawn of the Dead stands proudly beside the original while earning its own place in the halls of horror. The new Dawn of the Dead Collector’s Edition features new HD transfers of the theatrical and unrated cuts of the film, four new interview featurettes and loads of archival special features.
Both of these new editions are vital additions to any horror collection and further testaments to the legacy of George A. Romero. I can’t recommend them highly enough.