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Fortunately, 2004’s DAWN OF THE DEAD ($30) is more of a re-imagining of the George Romero horror classic than a full on remake. Why do I day fortunately? Well, despite Romero’s social commentary on consumerism, as horror movies go, the original DAWN OF THE DEAD way too boring for too much of its running time. 2004’s DAWN OF THE DEAD is a frenetic and fast paced horror movie that isn’t trying to make a statement. It exists only to scare the crap out of its audience. The premise of DAWN OF THE DEAD is concerned with a mysterious blood borne contagion that resurrects the dead and leaves them with a ravenous appetite for the flesh of the living. A handful of refugees, fleeing from the exponentially multiplying zombie hordes, take refuge in a Milwaukee shopping mall… that is, until they can figure out what to do next, while at the same time, trying to keep the ravenous dead out of the mall.

Compared to the original, this DAWN OF THE DEAD is a horror movie on steroids. Zombies are no longer the lumbering, slumbering flesh eaters of the past. Instead, these are lighting fast killing machines constantly looking for and able to pounce upon their next living meal. The story assembles a diverse group of stock characters, however, DAWN OF THE DEAD features a strong cast that breaths some life into what could have been a group of cardboard cutouts. Zack Snyder’s strong direction keeps the story racing forward, without any dull patches. The cast of DAWN OF THE DEAD features Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood, Boyd Banks, Inna Korobkina, R.D. Reid, Kim Poirier and Matt Frewer.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made DAWN OF THE DEAD available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation gets kudos for making an ugly situation look really good in high definition. DAWN OF THE DEAD is very sharp, plus it sports terrific definition, clarity and dimensionality. There is a gritty, "you are there" quality to the cinematography, but the look works in the film’s favor. Colors can be a little subdued in places, but the blood always seems to be vibrant when gushing away. Blacks are accurate and the whites are crisp. The image can be contrasty, plus the whites sometimes push the edge. Shadow detail is pretty strong. The elements from which DAWN OF THE DEAD are transferred appear virtually pristine. Grain appears throughout the course of the movie and can be somewhat heavier in darker sequences, but it gives the presentation a film-like quality.

DAWN OF THE DEAD is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprise here, the sound design is a killer. Sound effects are aggressively deployed, with all of the outlying channels continually spring to life for zombie attacks. Fidelity is terrific delivering convincing sound effects and genuine musical presence when required. The bottom end of the track is weighty and delivers all the necessary impact. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Zack Snyder and producer Eric Newman. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements (requires a Profile 1.1 player).

DAWN OF THE DEAD offers fast paced horror thrills, suspense and gore. The Blu-ray release really looks and sounds terrific for this type of film, although it probably wouldn’t fall into anyone’s pile of reference quality titles. If you like the subject matter, you’ll want this Blu-ray release.



Dawn of the Dead (Unrated Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] (2004)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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