Land of the Dead appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though it didn’t excel, this became a largely satisfying presentation.
Overall sharpness looked good. A little softness could interfere with some of the film’s low-light shots, but those instances remained minor and infrequent, so the movie usually appeared accurate.
Jagged edges and shimmering created no issues, and edge haloes didn’t complicate matters. Print flaws appeared nearly absent – I saw a few small specks but nothing more.
Zombie flicks don’t lend themselves to bright hues, so Land presented a restricted palette. It suited the grim urban setting. When brighter colors appeared, they seemed fine, but don’t expect much from the intensely gray-green-blue visuals.
Blacks were dense and deep, and shadows looked positive. As noted, these occasionally veered a little soft, but the material remained easy to view. The movie offered a solid transfer.
Given the movie’s many action scenes, I expected a lot of auditory information, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack delivered. The mixes opened up matters well and delivered a lively, involving setting.
Gunfire created the most prominent element, as bullets zipped all around us. Other effects also popped up in logical spots and created a fine sense of place. The mix cranked the action into high gear and did so well.
Audio quality was solid. Speech consistently appeared natural and distinctive, with no edginess or concerns related to intelligibility. Music was bright and bold, as the score showed good range and detail.
Effects packed a punch, so gunfire and explosions blasted us with clean, realistic tones. Bass response occasionally seemed slightly boomy, but usually the low-end was smooth and tight. All told, the track created strong audio.
How did the 2017 “Collector’s Edition Blu-ray compare to the original Blu-ray? Audio appeared to be identical, and the images seemed very similar as well. The only notable difference came from the handful of specks that showed up here – otherwise, I thought the Blu-rays offered virtually the same visual quality.
The 2017 set comes with many more extras, though, and it includes both the movie’s theatrical cut (1:32:54) as well as an unrated version (1:36:48). The prior release featured only the unrated edition, so we get the theatrical cut’s Blu-ray debut here.
I discuss differences in the body of my review and can’t claim either version works better than the other. I’m glad the package provides both versions.
Alongside the unrated cut, we find two separate audio commentaries. Also found on prior releases, the first includes director George Romero, producer Peter Grunwald, and editor Michael Daughtery. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific piece.
The participants talk about locations and sets, stunts and practical elements, visual effects, characters and the cast, and general notes from the shoot. They also detail the differences between this cut and the theatrical version.
Boy, that sounds like a strong commentary, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the reality is far less appealing. I like the parts that talk about changes made for this unrated cut, but almost everything else bores.
The notes remain brief and superficial, as the track almost never really digs into the film’s creation. Lots of dead air occurs with precious little useful information to punctuate the lulls. This commentary comes across as a dull dud.
New to the 2017 disc, a second commentary features zombie performers Michael Felsher, Matt Blazi, Glena Chad and Rob Mayr. Felsher also helped create/organize the disc’s supplements, so he acts as ringleader as well as participant in this look at the actors’ experiences during the shoot.
All involved are fans of the franchise, and that’s what got them into the movie. This means they sprinkle their stories about the shoot with a broad appreciation for the film – and especially Romero. They give us enough useful material to make the track worth a listen, but the tone remains light and oriented toward praise.
Six excised clips show up under The Remaining Bits. These last a mere two minutes, 56 seconds total and don’t really qualify as true deleted scenes. They’re all small snippets of segments and don’t add up to much.
From there we find a slew of featurettes. Undead Again: The Making of Land of the Dead runs 12 minutes, 56 seconds and presents notes from Romero, Grunwald, producers Mark Canton and Bernie Goldmann, water safety specialists Liise Keeling and Darren Marshall, special makeup effects artist Greg Nicotero, and actors Robert Joy, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, John Leguizamo, Eugene Clark, Tom Savini, and Simon Baker.
Mostly “Again” acts as an homage to the perceived Greatness That Is Romero. Everyone raves about him in this gushy piece. We get a few decent notes such as performance influences and issues related to shooting in water, but we don’t learn much in this featurette.
In the seven-minute, 34-second A Day With the Living Dead, Leguizamo takes us on a tour of various parts of the shoot. He offers plenty of irreverent – and often profane – remarks as we see different elements. It’s not the most informative piece, but it’s very entertaining.
Bringing the Dead to Life lasts nine minutes, 31 seconds. It includes remarks from Romero, Grunwald, Argento, Hopper, Leguizamo, Canton, Joy, Nicotero, Goldmann, Clark and stunt coordinator Matt Birman.
Nicotero dominates as we tour his makeup studio and shows us how he created the various disgusting pieces. As with the prior pieces, this one’s a little too flashy and glossy, but Nicotero’s behind the scenes details make it useful and winning.
Worlds collide in the 12-minute, 59-second When Shaun Met George. Shaun of the Dead actor/co-writer Simon Pegg and director/co-writer Edgar Wright did a cameo as zombies in Land, and this featurette shows their experiences. We also find remarks from Nicotero, Romero’s assistant Gwilym Roddick, and associate producer Silenn Thomas.
Pegg and Wright don’t tell us much outside of the “it was great fun” vein, but at least the show presents a decent look behind the scenes to see what it’s like to act as a zombie – albeit high-profile ones.
At only one minute, 42 seconds, Scenes of Carnage just shows a series of disgusting shots from the movie. What’s the point? I don’t know. I suppose it can be considered a version of the movie for those who love gore but lack the patience to sit through the whole film.
Technical matters come to the forefront in the three-minute, 18-second Zombie Effects: From Green Screen to Finished Scene. This presents simple comparison shots.
We see many clips before and after completion of their visual effects. I’d like this better if it included commentary to discuss the work, but it’s still moderately interesting to see the elements in their raw state.
More of this kind of material shows up in the seven-minute, 54-second Bringing the Storyboards to Life. This presents direct comparisons as it puts the boards in the top left corner and the movie in the lower half of the screen. It’s the standard piece of this sort and should satisfy those who enjoy this sort of thing.
Finally, Scream Tests: Zombie Casting Call runs one minute, five seconds. I thought this would offer a look at the casting of actors to play zombies.
Instead, it shows crude CG zombies who do the big dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. (Alas, the clip doesn’t include that music.) This is the kind of thing better suited to be an Easter egg than a real feature.
Six cut pieces show up under Deleted Scenes. These last a mere two minutes, 55 seconds and don’t really qualify as true “deleted scenes”. They’re all small snippets of segments and don’t add up to much.
The rest of the extras are new to this 2017 release, and we begin with Cholo’s Reckoning. This 15-minute, 37-second interview with actor John Leguizamo looks at his performance and his experiences during the production. He brings us a brisk, fun chat.
Next comes the 15-minute, nine-second Charlie’s Story. An interview with actor Robert Joy, we learn about his role and performance as well as reflections on other aspects of the shoot. Joy brings us a good examination of the topics.
In the same vein, The Pillsbury Factor presents a 17-minute, 29-second chat with actor Pedro Miguel Arce. He covers how he got into acting along with his casting in Land and his memories of the flick. Arce proves lively and chatty in this good interview.
During Four of the Apocalypse, we get a piece with actors Eugene Clark, Jennifer Baxter, Boyd Banks and Jasmin Geljo. In this 18-minute, 50-second program, they discuss how they got their zombie roles, performances, dealing with makeup and connected domains. We find a useful overview here.
A featurette called Dream of the Dead runs 24 minutes, 40 seconds and provides notes from Romero, Savini, Leguizamo, Nicotero, and Romero’s daughter Christine. They offer general notes about various aspects of the production, with an emphasis on Savini’s acting. “Dream” comes with some good info, but it feels a little disjointed.
We can watch “Dream” with or without commentary from director Roy Frumkes. Along with moderation from Felsher, he discusses his work as a movie documentarian and his efforts for “Dream”. Frumkes brings us a strong chat.
We also find deleted footage from “Dream of the Dead”. This give us 18 minutes, three seconds of clips that show behind the scenes footage from various parts of the shoot; we also get some interview snippets with Frumkes and producer Peter Grunwald. We get some fun outtakes here.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with a Photo Gallery. This nine-minute, 12-second reel displays 110 images that mix movie shots, promotional elements and behind the scene pictures. It becomes a nice compilation.
A pretty spry zombie flick, Land of the Dead digs into its subject well. The movie doesn’t excel at much, but it delivers an entertainingly nasty and violent experience. The Blu-ray presents good picture and terrific audio along with a pretty strong collection of supplements. Land becomes a lively movie and a solid Blu-ray.
To rate this film visit the DVD review of LAND OF THE DEAD