• The Dead Don’t Die (Universal) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Universal
    Released on: September 10th, 2019.
    Director: Jim Jarmusch
    Cast: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, Tom Waits
    Year: 2019
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    The Dead Don’t Die – Movie Review:

    Centerville is a small town of under 800 people. Not much really seems to happen there. We learn this when two cops, Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver), are asked by farmer Frank Miller (Steve Buscemi) to investigate the theft of one of his chickens. Miller, a red cap wearing racist, suspects that Hermit Bob (Tom Waits) is the culprit. Bob opens fire on the cops when they approach him, but they figure he’s always been a harmless old coot and they leave him alone. Meanwhile, at a nearby diner, Miller talks to Hank Thompson (Danny Glover) and the staff about the weirdness in the world – it seems that polar fracking his tilted the Earth off of its rotational axis, causing a shift in daylight hours and odd electrical behavior.

    Things get weirder when a pair of zombies (Sara Driver and Iggy Pop) show up at said diner later that night. Two bodies later, Robertson meets Peterson and fellow officer Mindy Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) at the scene of the crime. The general consensus is that wild animals were responsible, but Peterson figures it had to have been zombies. Elsewhere, at a gas station/comic book store, clerk Bobby Wiggins (Caleb Landry Jones) gets a visit from a trio of tourists - Zoe (Selena Gomez), Jack (Austin Butler) and Zack (Luka Sabbat) – and directs them to the hotel down the road a bit, run by Danny Perkins (Larry Fessenden). Adding to the cast of characters is Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton), the bizarre samurai sword wielding mortician who has just taken over duties at the local funeral home.

    As more zombies start clawing their way out of their graves, this cast of characters finds themselves with a very strange set of problems to solve.

    The Dead Don’t Die is an extremely deadpan comedy first and just barely a horror movie second. This is not played in the least bit straight, so know that going in – the film isn’t frightening, nor is it really trying to be. It is, however, genuinely funny in spots. Yes, it tries too hard at times, breaking the fourth wall and definitely relying on a lot of novelty casting (RZA as the driver for WuPS being a prime example) but if you’re in the right frame of mind for it and don’t need to take things seriously, it’s entertaining enough. Some of the digital effects aren’t so hot and some of them are just outright bad (when zombies are shot or slashed, black digital dust comes out of them and this looks very, very phony) but the mellow pace of the film jibes well with the relaxed tone of the humor and the wonky small town vibe that Jarmusch captures quite nicely here.

    As to the cast? Bill Murray does not break any new ground here. He’s fun in the role but he’s playing Billy Murry rather than a character. That said, it’s hard not to love Billy Murray, he’s just entertaining to watch. He and Adam Driver make a good pair, they both do dry comedy very well together. Sevigny fits the team well, a bit more emotional than the other two but she’s also quite good here. Tilda Swinton is just plain weird, but Tilda Swinton plays weird better than most and she’s an asset to the film. Buscemi is a scene stealer, Danny Glover is likeable and Selena Gomez comes across as genuinely nice – she’s also the ‘crush’ character in the film. Supporting work from the naturally quirky Caleb Landry Jones is solid and, hammy or not, RZA’s cameo is fun. You can’t fault casting Larry Fessenden as a scuzzy hotel owner while Tom Waits, under a LOT of makeup, is a solid choice to play a hermit by anyone’s standards and Iggy Pop makes a fine coffee slugging zombie. Also look out for cameos from Rosie Perez and Carol Kane are also amusing.

    The Dead Don’t Die – Blu-ray Review:

    The Dead Don’t Die arrives on Blu-ray from Universal on a 50GB disc with an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. Aside from some slight blurring during the cemetery scene where what looks like digitally added fog gets a little smeary, this is a very nice transfer. Detail is really strong throughout, there’s excellent color reproduction and black levels are pretty much perfect. Skin tones look really good, there’s impressive depth and texture to the picture and the image is free of compression artifacts, having been presented with a strong bit rate and with almost 38GBs of space given to the feature itself. As this was shot digitally, there’s obviously no print damage or grain to discuss and as such, the image is spotless.

    The primary audio option on the disc is a strong 24-bit English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. There’s some good surround activity here and the score is spread out nicely. Dialogue stays crystal clear, there aren’t any issues at all with even a trace of any hiss or distortion. The track is properly balanced throughout and there’s some decent low-end action from the subwoofer when the movie calls for it. No problems here at all, the audio is very good. Sturgill Simpson’s theme song sounds really nice in lossless!

    DTS 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are provided in French and Spanish and an English language descriptive audio track is available in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Subtitle options on the disc are provided in English, French and Spanish.

    Extras are pretty slim here, comprised primarily of three featurettes, the first of which is the eighty-second Bill Murray: Zombie Hunting Action Star in which the film’s lead talks about his character and fighting zombies in the film. The three-minute Stick Together is an interesting piece where we see what goes into teaching kids how to act like zombies. The five-minute Behind The Scenes Of The Dead Don't Die is just that, an assemblage of behind the scenes footage shot during the making of the movie.

    Aside from that, a few trailers for unrelated properties play before the menu screen loads. Chapter selection is also included. Universal includes an insert card for a digital HD download version of the film in addition to a slipcover.

    The Dead Don’t Die – The Final Word:

    The Dead Don’t Die is no modern masterpiece but it is amusing enough that it’ll entertain those with an appreciation for wry humor and deadpan comedy. The film benefits from an excellent cast and while it definitely feels like it’s ‘trying too hard’ at times, the end result is a pretty funny movie worth checking out if maybe not adding to your permanent collection. That said, if Universal’s release disappoints in the extra features department, it does look and sound very good.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Dead Don’t Die Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      I loved this! It’s exactly what anyone should expect from Jim Jarmusch making a zombie movie. Iggy Pop’s cameo is great too.