DVD Corner's blog

News, dvd and blu-ray reviews

The Walking Dead Season 1: Special Edition Blu-ray Review

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” takes zombies seriously, and we’re all better off because of it. This three-disc Blu-Ray set arrives just in time for the premiere of the show’s second season.

Of course, George A. Romero got the ball rolling decades ago, taking a cue from Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend” to create the modern zombie as we know it today…mindless eating machines which can be dispatched by destroying the brain, which always ends up being easier said than done. Since then, these ghouls have been offered up as satiric metaphors (Romero‘s own “Dawn of the Dead”), Italian gore-fodder (Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie” et al), target practice (the “Resident Evil” series of games & movies) and most recently, subjects of some great comedy (“Shaun of the Dead” & “Zombieland”). Zombies are now part of our popular culture, as beloved as teenage emo vampires.

As an audience, we all know that if zombies were real, the world would be essentially doomed. “The Walking Dead,” based on a popular series of graphic novels, knows this as well, and the series doesn’t bother to give us details about the epidemic itself, wisely choosing to begin its story after the ghouls have overrun the planet, and how its characters try to survive. The six episodes of the first season, while easily the most violent and graphic of any television series I’ve ever seen, focuses on the drama of the situation itself. It never resorts to cheap scares or gratuitous kills. The pace of this serialized story is moody, slow and deliberate, the characters are well-rounded and, even though the show isn’t really all that scary, an overall sense of dread fills every episode. Like “24”, we are never 100% certain which characters will survive to appear in another episode. That’s what is ultimately so cool about it.

I think a lot of this is due to series creator Frank Darabont, who is responsible for three of the greatest theatrical adaptations of Stephen King stories (“Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile” and “The Mist”) and directed the pilot episode of “The Walking Dead.” He has an obvious respect for his show’s source material (though, not being a comic book fan, I can‘t say how faithful it is to the story), as well as those well-versed in zombie lore. And he’s not afraid to keep everything foreboding, dark and dead-serious. As the second season (slated to be 13 episodes) approaches, it will be interesting to see what happens since Darabont has-since quit/been fired from the show. I hope I am wrong, but I cannot see this show maintaining the same level of intensity as the first season without his input.

This three disc set features an outstanding transfer, along with several extras not featured in the two-disc DVD version released last spring, the best of which is a black & white version of the Darabont-directed pilot. It’s a credit to him that he understands the old-school power of black & white as a creative directorial decision. I think that was proven when his film, “The Mist,” was presented on DVD with an alternate black & white version, which made the film scarier.

Other features:
Audio commentaries of all episodes
We are The Walking Dead
KNB and the Art of Making zombies
The VFX of The Walking Dead
No More Room in Hell: The Walking Dead phenomenon
Adapting the Dead

October 11, 2011 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: