Trick or Torture
by John Bikowski
Anchor Bay Entertainment is one of the only companies to understand that only true masterpieces of horror deserve the royal DVD supplement treatment. Who really wants audio commentary and stills on dreck like Bride of Chucky? Anchor Bay continues to put their efforts where it’s appreciated. Their recent release of two varsity terror-fests prove they’re loyal to intelligent fans. Both of the following DVDs are from the Divimax series (Digital Video to the Max) and both are automatic must-buys.
First, we have Day of the Dead, the third part of the George Romero zombie series after Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. This cleverly-packaged two-disc set is as good as it gets. This is the kind of extras package that people were paying over a hundred bucks a pop for on laserdisc back in the early ’90s. Day of the Dead starts up presumably after the zombies have conquered so much of the Earth’s surface that survivors have taken to living in mine shafts and such. Our story follows the ups and downs of a team of soldiers and scientists holed up in a missile silo. Lori Cardille is memorable as one of the sane doctors and Joe Pilato rocks as the scarface-like, badass Captain Rhodes, who gets pissed a lot. Tensions mount as the military is asked to risk their lives to capture zombies for further study. You’d think the doctors are investigating methods to destroy the zombie plague, but it turns out that loony doctor Logan has other ideas. Logan, played by Richard Liberty, is trying to domesticate zombies by training them not to eat our asses. His model student is Bub, who listens to a walkman, shaves, and seems like an all around nice, but securely chained up, flesh-eater. Rhodes discovers the shenanigans and blows a gasket. He massacres doctor Logan and this sets off a chain of events that pits the docs against the guards, and the zombies against them both. At this point, it seems the living dead have inherited the planet.
It’d been so long since I’d seen this bloody classic that I was blown away by the gore content on this cleaned-up version. Tom Savini’s splatter effects are even more effective with such crisp transfer. Heads torn in two, entire intestinal tracts sloshing onto the floor, power drill lobotomies and more, all splash across the screen in vibrant detail. The first disc has the feature film and two separate audio commentary track options. The first is with director Romero, FX maestro Savini, production designer Cletus Anderson, and actress Lori Cardille. This commentary is rightfully informative when they stay on the topic of the film. Romero and Savini are always a pleasure to hear. The other commentary is by filmmaker and zombie fan Roger Avary. It’s obvious that he loves the movie, and his enthusiasm make the commentary contagious.
The second disc is a treasure chest. It begins with a 40-minute documentary called The Many Days of Day of the Dead, which features interviews with tons of folks who all have interesting things to say. See the film before you watch this, though. Another plus is 31 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from Tom Savini. To complete the package, you also get the trailer, TV spots, interviews, tons of stills and photo galleries, a Romero bio, the screenplay, and production memos. Also inside the package is a Day of the Dead review book. A great total package.
The next release is the 25th Anniversary Edition of Halloween. You may be thinking, “Hasn’t this come out a bunch of times before?” Well, the answer is yes… but obviously not with everything this package offers. Of course you get the great film by John Carpenter, but this time, you also get his original commentary. Joining him on the audio is none other than Jamie Lee Curtis and producer Debra Hill. This is one of the best running commentaries you’ll find. It’s full of information on the low-budget process that I felt compelled to sit through. As for the film, I won’t delve into the storyline because if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to put down this magazine and spank yourself (then go watch it). I was told that as clear as the image on this Anniversary edition looks, the colors are not as vibrant as the 1999 release. I guess I can see their point, but only upon a scene-by-scene comparison. The new release looks great regardless. Besides the much-sought-after commentary, what sets this collection apart from prior releases are the goodies on disc two.
On the supplemental disc, you get a feature-length documentary with tons of info from tons of folks from P.J. Soles to Carpenter. This bonus is called Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest and it runs a whopping 87 minutes. Next up is On Location: 25 Years Later where you can check out shooting locations and the original Meyer’s house. To complete this package you also get a trailer, TV spots, radio spots, a poster and still gallery, talent bios, the original screenplay, and screen savers.