Film Review: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD [The Criterion Collection]

Film Review: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD [The Criterion Collection]

Feb 25, 2018

The Criterion Collection has finally released one of the most important horror films (and independent films for that matter) of all time with the reverence that it deserves. After years of ugly releases, due to the loss of licensing rights early on, this film has finally been remastered and restored to pristine visual and auditory condition. As a collector in their thirties, I don’t often get to see the before and after affects of a restoration first hand. With this film, though, I have seen just how bad a release from sub-par source material can be. I can also see what real talent, and of course money, can do in regard to fixing the look of a film.

The Criterion Collection, Janus Films, and The George Lucas Foundation have done some downright amazing things with this release. The Blu-ray release is one of the most recent and amazing looking of my Criterions. It has two Blus with multiple commentary tracks, documentaries, and interviews.

  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director George A. Romero, coscreenwriter John A. Russo, sound engineer Gary R. Streiner, and producer Russell W. Streiner
  • New restoration of the monaural soundtrack, supervised by Romero and Gary Streiner and presented uncompressed on the Blu-ray
  • Night of Anubis, a never-before-presented work-print edit of the film
  • New program featuring filmmakers Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, and Robert Rodriguez
  • Never-before-seen 16 mm dailies reel
  • New program featuring Russo on the commercial and industrial-film production company where key Night of the Living Dead filmmakers got their start
  • Two audio commentaries from 1994 featuring Romero, Russo, producer Karl Hardman, actor Judith O’Dea, and others
  • Archival interviews with Romero and actors Duane Jones and Judith Ridley
  • New programs about the film’s style and score
  • New interview program about the direction of ghouls, featuring members of the cast and crew
  • New interviews with Gary Streiner and Russell Streiner
  • Newsreels from 1967
  • Trailer, radio spots, and TV spots
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Stuart Klawans

I usually don’t include all of that, but I’m pretty excited about this one. My favorite part of the extra features is the 16 mm work-print edition of Night of Anubis. This rough cut gives new insight into the classic film. It looks and sounds…well rough. It is missing some of the film, but keeps something you’ve never seen before. It is an important part of film history that has never been seen in its entirety.

In the end, I don’t care what you collect; this is must-own film for everyone. It is one of the most fairly priced and high quality Criterions that you can buy. It is also a piece of horror and cinematic history. Collectors of all genres, formats, decades, and labels need to buy this.