Land of the Dead (Collector’s Edition) Blu-ray Review
Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero returns to unleash another chapter in his zombie series! In this new tale of terror, Romero creates a harrowing vision of a modern-day world where the walking dead roam a vast uninhabited wasteland and the living try to lead “normal”, lives behind the high walls of a fortified city. A new society has been built by a hand of ruthless opportunists, who live in luxury in the towers of a skyscraper, high above the less fortunate citizens who must eke out a hard life on the streets below. With the survival of the city at stake, a group of mercenaries is called into action to protect the living from the evolving army of the dead waiting outside the city walls. Land Of The Dead features a cast of great actors including Dennis Hopper, Simon Baker, Asia Argento, Robert Joy and John Leguizamo.
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Run time: 91 minutes
Audio: DTS HD MA lossless 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Disc Spec: 2 BD
I love Zombies! Yes, you heard that right out of my mouth. I am a huge fan of Zombie films, let alone of George A. Romero’s ‘Dead’ series of films. When I hear that a new zombie film of any kind if coming out in the theaters or direct to DVD, I get super excited as if I was 7 years old again going to buy a G.I. Joe action figure.
‘Land of the Dead’ is the 4th entry in George A. Romero’s ‘Dead’ films and is considered a rather different direction than the previous films. ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968), ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (1978), and ‘Day of the Dead’ (1985) were widely successful. Fans had been clamoring for a new ‘Dead’ film for years and it took Romero 20 years after ‘Day’ to release ‘Land’. With each film Romero has injected social commentary of what is currently going on in our country at that time. It makes his ‘Dead’ series more than just about the zombies and remaining survivors. In ‘Land’ it is all about our government back in 2004/2005 and what they have done to us economically and pushing the middle class closer to poverty levels while the rich get richer enjoying the best in life no matter what chaos is happening outside their world.
It is no more a thought that back in ‘Day’ the zombies would conquer the world in vast numbers, they own the ground they walk on and there are only a few remaining survivors. Again, as I mentioned above and anyone that has seen Romero’s previous films, we have the remaining survivors in two groups (I would go as far as three). In past ‘Dead’ films, you have always had 2 surviving groups of people that were at odds with each other by mid film, while still trying to survive a zombie invasion. You have the rich that control and own everything, living as if there is no zombie invasion. The rich send out the poor to gather supplies for their small city/town and this is how most of the poor survive. The leader of the rich is Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) and he also has an army of his own to keep the borders around the city safe at all times. He has the poor mercenaries go out into the zombie infested world to gather supplies.
We have our two poor mercenaries that don’t get along, Riley (Simon Baker) and Cholo (John Leguizamo) whom both have dreams of their own in this chaotic world. Riley has plans to go to Canada once he completes this one last job and Cholo has a dream of living in one of the high rises as promised by his boss Kaufman. Riley is also the man responsible for creating and building ‘Dead Reckoning’ which is a tank the size of an RV with all kinds of weapons such as rockets, machine guns, and fireworks that is used to go out and about in the neighboring zombie infested towns.
In this fourth ‘Dead’ film, the zombies have evolved and they are much smarter than the previous film as Bub from ‘Day of the Dead’ was an indication that they were getting smarter. Bub (Simon Peg) makes an appearance in the film too as a zombie that is getting tortured. The zombies evolve into what we see in the opening credits with Big Daddy (Eugene Clark) which is a gas attended zombie that leads a group of zombies to the city that Kaufman has under control. Riley saves Slack (Asia Argento) as she is about to become food for the zombies in a little game that is played.
If anything hurt this film, it has to do with the larger budget that Romero received as opposed to his previous ‘Dead’ films. While a larger budget is great, it hampered his direction and script since the studio, Universal Studios, had a lot of incite and input on the direction of the film vs. Romero doing his own thing. One of the issues that I have with the film is that Universal wanted to keep this at a shorter length and you can tell that it hurts the film as it doesn’t allow time to fully develop.
Movie Quality: 9.5/10
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. I have seen every imaginable version of ‘Land of the Dead’, from the theater, DVD, HD DVD, Digital HD, and the previous Blu-ray release. While the DVD suffered heavily in picture quality department, the HD DVD version was an improvement that really surprised me and the previous Universal Blu-ray release built upon that. Just like the Shout release of “Land 2014”, I was hard pressed to find any major or even minor changes to the print here is my print quality review snippet from the previous release. The image is pristine and rather clean throughout the entire print. This is a very detailed print that some of the small details stick out very well. Before anyone starts running down the street screaming murder, yes, that is intentional film grain throughout the film. It was there in the theatrical, DVD, and HD DVD versions of the film. Add to that too that we also get the old 1930’s Universal logo in all it’s glory to boot up the film; we are in for a treat.
Print Quality: 8/10
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD MA l0ssless 5.1 mix. This is the same exact mix from the previous Blu-ray release. The DTS-HD really shines during the action sequences and shows how far audio can be taken with the right mix. At times it felt as if I was being chased by a horde of zombies from the mix as my rears were getting a good workout. The dialogue is very clear and crisp; the great part is that it is well balanced with the soundfield mix.
Print Quality: 9/10
- Cholo’s Reckoning – an interview with actor John Leguizamo (NEW)
- Charlie’s Story – an interview with actor Robert Joy (NEW)
- The Pillsbury Factor – an interview with actor Pedro Miguel Arce (NEW)
- Four of the Apocalypse – an interview with actors Eugene Clark, Jennifer Baxter, Boyd Banks and Jasmin Geljo (NEW)
- Dream of the Dead: The director’s cut with optional commentary by director Roy Frumkes
- Deleted footage from Dream of the Dead
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer
- Audio Commentary with zombie performers Matt Blazi, Glena Chao, Michael Felsher and Rob Mayr (NEW)
- Audio Commentary with writer/director George A. Romero, producer Peter Grunwald and editor Michael Doherty
- Undead Again: The Making of Land of the Dead
- Bringing The Dead To Life
- Scenes of Carnage
- Zombie Effects: From Green Screen to Finished Scene
- Scream Test – CGI test
- Bringing the Storyboards to Life
- A Day with the Living Dead hosted by John Leguizamo
- When Shaun Met George
Special Features: 9/10
I enjoyed George A. Romero’s fourth film in the series, but this is also at the bottom of my list when ranking his ‘Dead’ series. Maybe with another 30 minutes and less restrictions by Universal Studios, this film could have been epic. I highly recommend the Blu-ray version for the brand new extras alone since the audio and video aren’t an upgrade over the previous release.
Overall Rating: 8/10