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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Zombie > Political > Night Of The Living Dead (1968/Region Free/Network U.K. Blu-ray)

Night Of The Living Dead (1968/Region Free/Network U.K. Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Film: B+



NOTE: This Blu-ray edition is only available in the U.K. from our friends at Network U.K. and can be ordered exclusively from them at the links below.  Our copy was not Region B, but Free like the final editions, so it should play on all Blu-ray drives.



When a film has been imitated to death and bad prints have been circulating about it for so long that you wonder if you will ever see a good copy of that film again, it is especially great to see such a key film with the impact that made it a success in the first place.  Two such films that become victims of this kind of fate are either independent productions or black and white films.  When they are both and fall into public domain, like George Romero’s original 1968 Night Of The Living Dead, people will start to think they are seeing the best copies left and call the film “old” and the like.


So when Network U.K. announced they would issue a High Definition Blu-ray of the film, the big question was one of getting a good print for starters.  The Weinstein Company issued a restored copy on DVD and even made it widescreen, but it was still lacking in detail and the monochrome was lacking in rich Video Black.  Somehow, they have found a really good print someone did not play to death (no pun intended) and you can read more about its performance below.


Not as happy with Romero’s newer trilogy of zombie films (using Canada as Pittsburgh is among what does not work in them), but this remains the only one in black and white and that is one of the ways it gets its power.  Romero and company cared about what they were doing and it was a bold film for its time.  It could have been an all-exploitation film, but walks a fine line between such works (of which were new and many) a grasp of the entire genre from it connections to Richard Matheson’s book I Am Legend, to the official first 1964 adaptation of the book into the film The Last Man On Earth with Vincent Price to what Alfred Hitchcock achieved in Psycho (1960) and everything worked.


Most imitators are barely imitating the sequels and not even this film, which is why most are just so very bad.  Pittsburgh had always been a sort of joke in Classical Hollywood films (including several of Hitchcock’s) and the Steel Industry was alive and well when he made the film, but was almost gone from the city by the time Day Of The Dead (1985, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) when it arrived.  Products of industry (radios, TVs, cars, etc.) play unusual roles in the film in ways not always considered and in that context.  Arriving the same year as Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, many have tried to site it success in connection to the Vietnam conflict, yet Rosemary’s Baby is never connected to that, so such critics are off-base.


Instead, the film finds a ground zero in Horror Cinema to seen since German Expressionism and with its coy references to Universal Monsters and Sci-Fi/Horror of the 1950s, has a love of all of it and knows how to take the next step.  The film suggests Science Fiction and even supernatural reasons for the zombies, but with everyone dying so brutally, it never matters.  They may move slowly, but the zombies are on the kill and cannot be stopped, making all the theories unimportant if you are about to be killed.


It is that immediacy that is lost on the last two generations of would-be filmmakers, especially when it comes to being mostly original, generating suspense, being realistic and knowing how to be dark.  With this Blu-ray, anyone serious about film and this kind in particular are in for a surprise in just how powerful this film really is when you see a copy as good as this as we have here.



The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image is a surprise, centered in the 16 X 9 HD frame (unlike the Weinstein DVD, which is anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1) and though there might be skipped frames here and there, this is easily the best the film has ever looked.  That is not easy considering the film is public domain and tracking down a good print is very difficult, especially considering its popularity over the years, but Network has found a print that looks like it has real silver content and the result is often very revealing of the film in ways no previous copy on DVD or otherwise has shown.


Rough shots notwithstanding, Video White is on the ivory side, Video Black are rich and deep as the filmmakers always intended and you will definitely see details here only audiences who have seen better film prints experienced in its 41-years and counting history.  You can really relax and enjoy the great canted shots, classic moments and other movements and moments of menace.  Though not perfect, I would be very surprised to see a better Blu-ray of the film anytime soon.


The PCM 2.0 Mono is a little uneven and the soundtrack can sound rough, but this too is still the best I have ever heard the sound, though the Weinstein DVD cleaned its sound up, it was in lesser Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and cannot compete with the warmth of this PCM at its best.  The only extra is the original theatrical trailer in HD.


For more on the original, start with this link:






As noted above, you can order this British Blu-ray import exclusively from Network U.K. at:









-   Nicholas Sheffo


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