Dawn of the Dead - Cover

Scream Factory: Dawn Of The Dead Collector’s Edition

When talking about 1978’s Dawn of the Dead it’s fair to call it a masterpiece. The late and great George A. Romero really delivered a triumph in horror. The social commentary elements that he had touched upon in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. Were absolutely embraced and proudly flaunted in the sequel. It is in fact considered by most to be the best zombie film ever made. Period. Which is why in 2003 when I first heard that someone was going to attempt to remake Dawn of the Dead…I didn’t take it well.

I don’t think I was the only one that was kind of flipping their wig at the news. Furthermore I can recall being at work, sitting in the back office when I read the news. All joking aside my reaction was actually quite a bit like that GIF from The Office. Then I started doing a little research. I hadn’t ever heard of Zack Snyder although I do believe this was his directorial debut.
Dawn of the Dead - Zak Snyder

But James Gunn…now that is a name I knew thanks to 2000’s The Specials and 2002’s Scooby-Doo.
Dawn of the Dead - James Gunn

Which wasn’t exactly a strong selling point for most fans of the 1978 version. Not even the fact that Gunn had written 1996’s Tromeo and Juliet as well as a pass on 2000’s Thir13en Ghosts calmed concerns. He’s gone on record that he literally received death threats over his involvement with the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Which is a pretty sad thing to have to share of course.
Dawn of the Dead - 2004 - Poster

I certainly try my very best to keep an open mind about all movies. Leaving judgement as it were until I have at the very least been able to see the trailer. Having said that – this was a remake of Dawn of the Dead so I can be excused for being a little biased. The afternoon that it debuted online…it was with great hesitation that I hit play on the media player.

[Via] Scream Factory TV

After it was over I found myself kind of slowing nodding my head. Not all of my fears had been settled. It looked like the zombies were running instead of shambling. It seemed like they had taken the tight group of survivors from the 1978 version and greatly expanded it. On the other hand, their casting choices made me sit up and take notice. The feeling…or fear… of being sieged by the Dead also seemed to have been ramped up. As well as scenes of what definitely looked like normal life breaking down at the beginning of an zombie apocalypse.
Dawn of the Dead - Apocalypse

Was I won over completely? No. But I certainly found myself more curious about seeing the finished product than I had been. So when it debuted on March 19th, 2004 – I had my seat at the second matinee. And when the end credits had rolled and the house lights were raised I walked out of the theater and bought a ticket for the next showing. I can honestly say I was blown away by how much I liked the film. Was it perfect? No. But it was INCREDIBLY entertaining to say the least. It was mean, had tons of dark comedy, and overall wanted to scare its audience.

To be fair, the film isn’t really that much of a remake of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. There are shared elements from both films of course. They are mostly cosmetic though on the whole. The mall being the central spot to which the survivors head to and fortify is there. And there are some cameos from the original film’s cast members. The 2004 remake really stands on its own if I am being totally honest.

So what is the basic plot of the remake? Ana, played by the powerhouse actress Sarah Polley, is rescued by a Police Officer named Kenneth (Ving Rhames). They shortly come across a trio of survivors. Michael, who is hands down my favorite character and played by Jake Weber. As well as Andre (Mekhi Phifer) and Luda (Inna Korobkina), a young couple with a baby on the way. The group takes refugee in the Cross Roads Mall but not before having a confrontation with the mall’s security force. You have racist CJ (Michael Kelly), his lackey Bart (Michael Barry) and the younger and more reasonable Terry (Kevin Zegers).
Dawn of the Dead - Survivors

As it seems that no help is coming, the group end up settling in for a long haul. Soon the group’s number grows with new survivors. Nicole (Lindy Booth), Tucker (Boyd Banks), Glen (R.D. Reid), Monica (Kim Poirier), and Norma (Jayne Eastwood). Oh, there is also the absolutely delightfully sarcastic and scene stealing Steve Marcus, played by Ty Burrell.
Dawn of the Dead - Ty Burrell

Zak Snyder’s direction is on point. Sharp and literally in your face in some scenes. The film doesn’t pull any punches in it’s depiction of the zombie apocalypse either. When everything starts to break down as you know it will. You will care about the characters and their fates.
Dawn of the Dead - Mall Roof

Just like they did with George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, Scream Factory is unleashing a Collector’s Edition of 2004’s Dawn of the Dead. A 2-Disc Blu-Ray set offering both the theatrical as well as unrated cut of the film. Including of course a ton of extra features.

Disc One:

  • Theatrical Version HD Master Derived From The Digital Intermediate Archival Negative
  • Take A Chance On Me – An Interview With Actor Ty Burrell
  • Gunn For Hire – An Interview With Writer James Gunn
  • Punk, Rock, & Zombie – An Interview With Actor Jake Weber
  • Killing Time At The Mall: The Special Effects Of Dawn Of The Dead – An Interview With Special
  • Makeup Effects Artists David Anderson And Heather Langenkamp Anderson (Yes, Nightmare on Elm Street’s Langenkamp!)
  • Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Zach Snyder And Producer Eric Newman
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

Disc Two:

  • Unrated Version HD Master Derived From The Digital Intermediate Archival Negative With HD Inserts
  • Audio Commentary With Director Zach Snyder And Producer Eric Newman
  • Splitting Headaches: Anatomy Of Exploding Heads
  • Attack Of The Living Dead
  • Raising The Dead
  • Andy’s Lost Tape
  • Special Report: Zombie Invasion
  • Undead And Loving It: A Mockumentary
  • Drawing The Dead Featurette
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Hidden Easter Egg

You can pre-order your copy of the Dawn of the Dead Collector’s Edition by visiting Scream Factory. Or instead you can pick it up on Halloween before you head out to engage in spooky festivities!

Remember while watching Dawn of the Dead on Halloween to make sure it is actually trick-or-treaters outside your door!

Land of the Dead - Cover

Scream Factory: Land Of The Dead Collector’s Edition!

Land of the Dead was a very big deal when it was originally announced back in 2005. It marked the return of George A. Romero to his Dead universe. A mere 20 years had passed since we zombie fans were last treated to Romero’s unique vision of an ever increasing apocalypse. An apocalypse of the flesh-eating hordes of the undead. I can certainly say Land of the Dead had quite a bit of expectation tied to it.
Land of the Dead - Poster

I was so excited in fact that I took off work when it opened on June 24th. Furthermore judging by the size of the audience for the first matinee I wasn’t the only one. It was absolutely packed. I can remember how friends and complete strangers alike were busily chatting away with each other. Discussing their favorite Dead film, memorable scenes and how the movies ranked as well. Then the lights dimmed and an absolute hush washed over the audience.

[Via] W3reW0lfje

Land of the Dead marked the first film that Romero made that had studio support. In this case it was Universal Studios. Which probably helped to nab the talents of the likes of Dennis Hopper and of course John Leguizamo.
Land of the Dead - Dennis Hopper

So what kind of story did Land of the Dead bring us? In short a corrupt business man named Kaufman (Hopper) has created possibly the last sanctuary for humanity. A towering beacon of hope…false hope, for the huddled masses. If you happen to be filthy rich and align with Kaufman’s agenda you are safe and comfortable in the Green. However if you are one of the many poor – you earn your living in other ways. As a soldier guarding the fenced perimeter of the Green to keep out the Dead. Or as in the case of Cholo (Leguizamo) a lackey who is forced to get his hands dirty.
Land of the Dead - John Leguizamo

Our main protagonist in Land of the Dead is Riley Denbo, played by the Mentalist’s Simon Baker. A man who has all but been ground down by the world of the Dead. Not to mention having to go out constantly on raids to nearby cities and towns to scavenge for food and supplies for the people of the Green.
Land of the Dead - Simon Baker

On Riley’s last night out before retirement he notices something odd about the Dead they are contending with. At least in the case of one, Big Daddy, played by Eugene Clark. They seem to be getting smarter or remembering how to act like they did when living. At the very least they appear to be able to communicate with one another now…like forming a mob to repel and hunt down their attackers!
Land of the Dead - Big Daddy

Which is something I might add that Romero has clued us fans to from the start with Night of the Living Dead in 1968. Things go sour for Riley’s retirement plans as well as Cholo’s. In the case of the latter however it means retribution against Kaufman and the people of Fiddler’s Green. If his ransom demand of 5 million dollars are not met he will unleash the fury of Dead Reckoning on the city.
Land of the Dead - Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning is Land of the Dead‘s massive anti-dead vehicle. A modified Semi truck, designed by Riley in fact. Equipped to the teeth with all manner of weapons to punch it’s way through large mobs of the Dead. More importantly it has a deadly rocket launcher system that Cholo threatens to use on Fiddler’s Green.

So Riley is forced to go out beyond the safety of the city. To hunt down Cholo and reclaim Dead Reckoning before Kaufman’s empire is destroyed. Thankfully Riley can count on his friend Charlie (Robert Joy) as well as Slack, played by the bad ass Asia Argento. But as with all Romero Dead films…the true threat isn’t the hordes of walking dead…but our fellow man. The real question of Land of the Dead becomes whether humanity even deserves to be saved.

Now back in 2005 as the credits rolled on Land of the Dead I took a big breath. I walked out of the theater and got in my car. I then sat there for a few minutes. George A. Romero’s return had left me incredibly disappointed.

Perhaps I had put too much expectation on the film and what I thought it was going to be about. I will certainly admit that I thought we would be seeing humanity waging an all out war on the Dead after watching the trailer.

[Via] Scream Factory TV

Over the years I at least was wise enough to see how good Land of the Dead actually was. Will it ever by my favorite? No, I am afraid that goes to 1985’s Day of the Dead. A film I should add that when I originally watched it on VHS I wasn’t that impressed with either.

Now the good news is that Scream Factory is delivering a Blu-Ray collector’s Edition of the film. On this Tuesday, Halloween itself no less! This 2-disc edition also contains a horde of special features. Including an absolutely stunning 2K scan of the movie on both the theatrical cut as well as uncut version!

Disc One:

  • Theatrical Cut
  • Cholo’s Reckoning – An Interview With Actor John Leguizamo
  • Charlie’s Story – An Interview With Actor Robert Joy
  • The Pillsbury Factor – An Interview With Actor Pedro Miguel Arce
  • Four Of The Apocalypse – An Interview With Actors Eugene Clark, Jennifer Baxter, Boyd Banks, And Jasmin Geljo
  • 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

Disc Two

  • Uncut version
  • Audio Commentary With Zombie Performers Matt Blazi, Glena Chao, Michael Felsher, And Rob Mayr
  • 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 (Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg)

So before you head out to enjoy your Halloween festivities. Make sure to pick up the Land of the Dead Collector’s Edition. Or of course you can hop on over to Scream Factory and pre-order your copy today.

Did you know that Land of the Dead received a tie-in video game? It certainly did! Check out the trailer for Road to Fiddler’s Green!

[Via] Archives of the Dead

Fear the Walking Dead Season 2

Fear The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season Brings The Horror Home For the Holidays!

Very good news for horror fans to say nothing of Fear the Walking Dead devotees. Anchor Bay Entertainment has released the complete second season of the show on Blu-Ray today!
Fear the Walking Dead

I have never made a case of hiding my absolute devotion to the zombie genre. Starting with George A. Romero’s 1968 masterpiece Night of the Living Dead. I quickly began to devour whatever media I could get my hands on. Whether that be other movies, comics or of course literature. Case in point 1989’s Book of the Dead, a collection of zombie short stories. Edited by Craig Spector and John Skipp. The book featured stories by Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, and Robert McCammon to name a few.

Image courtesy of the Too Much Horror Fiction blog.

That is to say, I believe I know as a matter of fact a good zombie story. Furthermore my palate for walking dead entertainment has become picky. While I mentioned this before I am in fact not a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead. I just don’t care for the type of story being presented in that hugely popular series. But having said that, when Fear the Walking Dead debuted in 2015 – I was totally hooked. It might be due to the smaller picture presented by this series that won me over. Moreover getting a chance to see the zombie apocalypse slowly build and then explode kind of spoke to me.

If you’ve been following the series you know that Season One end rather tragically. As our core group of characters attempt to flee the ever-growing zombie infection, they attempt to escape by sea.

Spoiler. Things don’t go well.

Check out the Comic-Con Fear the Walking Dead season two trailer!

AMC

From the Press Release:
“Living in the same universe as “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead” Season 1 explored a blended family who watched a burning, dead city as they traversed a devastated Los Angeles. In Season 2, the group aboard the Abigail is unaware of the true breadth and depth of the apocalypse that surrounds them; they assume there is still a chance that some city, state, or nation might be unaffected — some place that the Infection has not reached. But as Operation Cobalt goes into full effect, the military bombs the Southland to cleanse it of the Infected, driving the Dead toward the sea. As Madison, Travis, Daniel, and their grieving families head for ports unknown, they will discover that the water may be no safer than land.”

Bonus Features

  • Audio Commentaries
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Flight 462 Webisodes
  • Q&A with Cast and Creative Team from PaleyFest LA 2016
  • Inside “Fear the Walking Dead”
  • The Making of “Fear the Walking Dead”

You can pick up Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season today! Anchor Bay has released it not just on Blu-Ray but Digital HD and DVD too. So why not bring some horror home for the holidays?

Can You Pass Daniel XIII’s Super Horror Identification Challenge?

Hey creeps! It’s been a while since yer ol’ pal The Ouija Board Kid, Daniel XIII, has roamed these haunted hallways, but good news; I have returned to tease yer brains (instead of just eating them like I would have in the past…I’m a more gallant ghoul as of late). Anyway, ready to take my terrifying test? Here goes…

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Now we all know that daper dude on the right is the zombified remains of former Misfit’s drummer Dr. Chud, but who is that Chess King spokes model on the left? How about a lil’ thinkin’ music while you ponder this monstrous mystery?

Give yer best guess below, and no Googlin’ ya goons! Oh, and I’ll drop by later with the arcane answer!

Full On YouTube – The Midnight Hour

Did you know you can see some of the best movies from our childhoods on YouTube in their entirety? They are
full_on_youtube_hartter
When I told you about the Smart Aleck’s Guide To Halloween Specials at the beginning of the month, I said they mentioned an ABC movie called The Midnight Hour which I never got the chance to see. I also said I had been looking for it but couldn’t find it. I remembered that sad fact yesterday and so gave YouTube another chance. And thank goodness for new content because there it was, the full movie. It was chopped into four parts, sadly, but it was all still there. And what a great movie it was. Well, it was great for the nostalgic factor anyway. This is something that just oozes with the spirit of the mid-80s and something I would have loved if I had seen it back then. I’m not sure today just how I missed this one, but I’m glad I got to see it now. And if you would like to see it as Halloween draws to its midnight hour, I’ve posted all four parts below.