Night Of The Living Dead DVD review

Night Of The Living Dead is rightly regarded as a low budget horror classic, but does this colour DVD release compromise George Romero's stark original vision?

A film that needs little introduction, Night Of The Living Dead is the George Romero low budget masterpiece that shaped a million zombie movies and influenced games such as the Resident Evil series. (No more prevalently is that witnessed than in the first game, which echoes the claustrophobic setting of a seemingly abandoned house in the middle of nowhere.)

For those who have not seen this film, or heard of it (all two of you), events kick off with a brother and sister who visit a graveyard, only to find themselves attacked by a very pale, slightly rotting man. With her brother apparently a gonner, the sister flees to the nearest house, finding it empty.

At least, so it seems at first. Soon she encounters a small band of survivors who have taken up sanctuary in the house, barricading doors, picking up shotguns, and defending themselves in any way they can from the threat outside.

Soon the place is surrounded by these shambling, rotting monstrosities that display a taste for human flesh, and news reports are at a loss as to explain what could be going on. Their only advice is to destroy the brain, which has proven to disable the creatures. I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure the word “zombie” is never actually used throughout the course of the film.

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The original version of the film is shot in stark black-and-white and backed by a rumbling, darkly pulsing soundtrack that helps to build a genuine sense of unease and menace, just as the Silent Hill games have shown that a screen littered with shadows and only a marginal degree of light can raise the hairs on the back of your neck like nothing else.

It’s often difficult to see what’s going on, or who’s speaking, but somehow this adds to the experience and helps draw us into the confusion felt by the main protagonists.

The version on this DVD, however, is rendered in colour which, honestly, takes an awful lot away from the film. For a start, movies this old that end up treated with colour always come across as really washed out and slightly cheap, and it’s sad to see this is the case here.

You may be able to get a clearer picture of what’s going on, but without the shadows, without the stark black-and-white, a huge blow is dealt to the film in terms of subtracting the menace and general sense of unease. The sound is also quite muffled and it can be difficult to distinguish what’s being said at times.

As for the disc itself, well, there are no extras, just the bog standard film.

To conclude, this is a true classic which has suffered poor treatment for the presentation of this DVD. The addition of colour takes away more than it adds. The sound quality is not great, and there are no extras. Best to view the full experience in black-and-white, as it was originally intended.

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4 stars
(but try and get the black and white version!)Disc:

Night Of The Living Dead (In Colour) is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.


4 out of 5