THE DEAD WALK!
...but how's their hearing?
Anchor Bay's recent "DIVIMAX" special edition DVD of George Romero's Day of the Dead is a fine two-disc set full behind-the-scenes footage, audio commentaries and all kinds of trailers and promotional material, but one big problem which some fans have with this release is that the film's original mono soundtrack was not included and the 5.1 and stereo remixes that are present contain portions of dubbed dialogue which was prepared for the film's television edit. These dubs comprise mere seconds of screen time but I don't think it's out of line for movie buffs to expect and complete and exact version of the film's theatrical audio track, a track which remained intact throughout almost twenty years of home video releases. Anchor Bay seems to be the only people who got wrong, but even if it's not a gigantic error it's a very careless oversight nonetheless and I noticed some these changes instantly. With the help of my own recollections and by referring to DVD Savant's review I compiled a series of audio clips in mp3 format (LAME-encoded "--alt preset standard") to illustrate some of these changes.
Many other companies such as Elite Entertainment or 20th Century Fox have made special note of any audio problems to be found in their releases but Anchor Bay chose not to put any such statement on this dvd. Maybe they did realize the problem but felt it was so minor that no one would notice, but these probems are very comparable to the Alien quadrilgy's short burst of workprint audio on the Alien 3 DVD and Fox goes all out to inform the viewer of this . Listen to the audio clip of a dubbed John yelling in "right" and tell me that it sounds very clear or even intelligeble. The average viewer probably couldn't even catch that edited line because it's so poorly-integrated into the soundtrack. And the sad part is that the original mono track was sacrificed for a dolby digital and DTS revamp which doesn't even sound that great. I hope than in future editions of this film that all the original audio and video will remain intact, because soon there will be hearing cries of "what's wrong with a shot here or there missing? a little close-up snipped, part of a line of dialogue clipped off in mid sentence. What's the big deal?" Obviously this an exaggeration but when companies deal with remixing audio tracks I feel they need to respect the original intentions of the theatrical mix and definitely use a complete dialogue track. If compromsies must be made due to lost or problematic elements then it should be noted on the disc and not hidden from the public. Being honest to consumers will not scare them away and it might even educate those who were swept away by rumors that this disc utilized the edited broadcast cut which it definitely does not. This isn't the first time Anchor Bay has run into such problems (their Suspiria remix was also controversial) but I hope they can learn from these problems and maybe fix them in futures home video releases.
©2004 John R. Hand