Criterion is releasing a 4K-scanned, digitally restored Night of the Living Dead Bluray on 2.13.18. Restored by the Museum of Modern Art and The Film Foundation with funding from the George Lucas Family Foundation and the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation — great. But how much better can this 1968 black-and-white cheapie look? Get real.
I love NOTLD, but it wasn’t shot by Vittorio Storaro or Gordon Willis or Conrad Hall or the ghost of Gregg Toland. (Director & co-writer George Romero handled the 35mm lensing.) It was just a fast little indie, shot on the fly.
I’ve seen a couple of upgraded versions over the last decade or so. I’m very glad that a 4K Criterion version will soon be available for one and all, but what kind of “bump” can realistically be expected?
“The movie was criticized for its ‘amateurish visual style.’ Some critics speculated that Living Dead had been shot on 16mm film and then blown up to 35mm for theatrical release. Actually Romero shot the movie on 35mm film stock, but the independent film distributors of the day showed very little concern about quality when it came to making prints of a film.
“Romero was always troubled by the fact that few people ever saw the original Living Dead the way it was meant to be seen.“But they can now, thanks to a special two-tape collector’s edition of Night of the Living Dead released by Anchor Bay Entertainment through Video Treasures. One tape contains the movie, remastered from the original negative.
“If you’ve only seen the film in one of those dark and muddy prints, this video version will jolt you. It’s clean and pristine. It looks and ‘feels’ like a completely different movie.”