Before a league of superheroes and a small army of Greeks, Zack Snyder pulled off a true rarity - a genuinely good remake of a classic with 2004’s Dawn of the Dead. Now nearly 20 years later, Scream Factory delivers its first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a new 4K scan of the negative and Dolby Vision HDR with all of the bonus features of their previous Collector’s Edition. Highly Recommended
As we’ve already covered Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead a couple of times now, I won’t be diving into another full review. George Romero’s classic may not have needed a remake, but we got one and in all honesty, it’s a good one. I watch this Dawn of the Dead the same way I watch the 1990 Night of the Living Dead, it’s a similar approach to the same material but different enough to stand on its own. Without the subtext of Romero’s classic as it's arguably more style than substance, James Gunn managed to pull together a slick screenplay and Snyder delivered an intense and scary thrill ride. Five minutes after the first frame rolls you have the first gnarly, shocking, and bloody zombie attack and the film is off to the races and only slows down long enough to humanize our band of survivors.
Read our previous coverage below:
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead makes a bloody sprint for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a new three-disc Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory. The Unrated Edition 4K scores a Region Free BD-100 disc with two additional Region A BD-50 discs reserved for the 1080p Unrated and 1080p Theatrical Cut and the bulk of the bonus features. Each disc gets its own tray and isn’t stacked in a three-disc case with identical slipcover artwork. Each disc loads to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options.
Dawn of the Dead was originally finished on a 2K DI and that’s been the source for past home video releases, but for this outing, a new 4K scan of the negative was issued for this Dolby Vision HDR 4K UHD release. Per the reported specs, the unrated footage has been upscaled from the 2K DI, not sure of the wherewithal for that, but without already knowing the theatrical cut so well, with HDR I could barely tell the difference for those brief scene extensions and small sequences.
Film grain is intact and in keeping with this film’s hyper-stylized presentation. Grain hasn’t ever been subtle in this film and it still maintains a strong presence on 4K without any signs of smoothing or edge enhancement anomalies. Details are cleaner and more precise than Scream's own 2017 release and again miles better than the old 2008 and 2007 Blu-rays and HD-DVD discs. Facial features, clothing details, and all of the great gnarly makeup effects get plenty of care and attention. For the facial features especially I felt there were finer details and cleaner pigmentation for the cast and the hoard of the speedy undead. The only softness of note are for some of those CGI shots and enhanced gore effects still come off a little soft and weightless - but they always have so that’s not a surprise.
Dolby Vision HDR does a nice job with this film’s color, contrast, and black levels. Again, this is such a stylized film that a variety of filters were used so it’s not exactly consistent one scene to the next. I thought the 2017 disc was very good in the colors arena, reds could be a bit oversaturated, but this new transfer balances everything out with nice primary highlights with healthy natural skin tones for our uninfected humans. Black levels are nice and dark giving the film an appreciable sense of three-dimensional depth. Whites look nice and crisp without any unintentional blooming. All around this is a very impressive release. Now I don’t quite understand why the Theatrical Cut wasn’t included in 4K via seamless branching or otherwise. I prefer the Extended Edition myself, but I know there are folks that would have liked to see both in 4K. The included Theatrical Cut disc is the same presentation for the 2017 Collector’s Edition set and hasn’t been cleaned up or upgraded.
Each cut of Dawn of the Dead comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track or a DTS-HD MA 2.0. I’m not entirely sure of the necessity of the 2.0 track, but it’s decent enough if you’re not rigged for full surround or enjoy your flicks with headphones. But ultimately this 5.1 track is still the way to roll. It doesn’t sound to me like it’s been updated or enhanced since the 2017 release and still packs a punch. An Atmos mix would have been pretty cool for a film like this with so much sonic activity zipping around, but flipping on my receiver’s DTS Neural:X function the soundscape opens up nicely and gives some of the bigger active scenes some extra oomph.
Picking through the discs it doesn’t look like anything new has been added to Scream Factory’s slate of already excellent bonus features. Dated as they may be, they’re worth digging into. The Zack Snyder and Eric Newman commentary is a nice listen without sounding boring or too self-congratulatory. The various cast and crew interviews are also nice to sit down to if you haven’t done so already.
4K UHD Disc
Unrated Blu-ray Disc
Theatrical Blu-ray Disc
George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead didn’t need a remake, but we got one and it was actually pretty damn good! Nearly twenty years later the film still stands up as one of the better remakes/reboots as it takes the original concept but does its own thing allowing it to stand on its own two undead legs. Scream Factory gives Zack Snyder’s first feature film a new and impressive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray upgrade complete with a new 4K scan of the negative and Dolby Vision HDR. With two solid audio options and all of the previously released archival bonus features making a return, it’s another worthy upgrade for the collection. Highly Recommended