THE SO-CALLED "Special Collector's Edition" DVD of Night of the Living Dead is a barely serviceable retrospective, while the beloved anti-utopian mall epic Dawn of the Dead still labors in VHS hell, yet the least admired of George Romero's 25-plus-years-in-the-making zombie trilogy, 1985's Day (Aug. 19), gets the sudden promotion to bells-and-whistles heaven? Hopefully this two-disc ode to rotting flesh is the start of an extended nod to Romero; he crammed more sociopolitical bite and doomsday meditation into a minute of the series' weakestalbeit breathtakingly gruesomeinstallment than Danny Boyle did into the entirety of 28 Days Later.
Day boasts the two best kinds of commentary tracks: a) the nostalgic, director/crew/cast roulette reflection, featuring still feisty Romero, gore guru Tom Savini, and tomboy lead Lori Cardille; and b) a random two cents from the Quirky Celeb Superfan, in this case fully dorked-out Rules of Attraction/Pulp Fiction auteur Roger Avary. Each has plenty to say about Day's bitter assessment of the human condition, but if you're simply hungry for unmitigated zombie depravity, a narration-free, half- hour SFX featurette provides a jaw-dropping procession of Savini's flesh-tearing wizardry. (In "The Many Days of Day of the Dead," he cops to wrapping real cow intestines around fakes to turn the gross up to 11.)
Most interesting, Romero hungers to come back with a fourth CGI- free Dead, tentatively titled Dead Reckoning; Avary muses about potential plot points, pitching his own solid concept: a human-controlled zombie army versus an untamed, "traditional" zombie army. Note to Dawn teenybopper remake director Zack Snyder: scrap it. You're out of your league. ANDREW BONAZELLI
SPEAKING OF remakes, Oct. 7 brings both the 2003 and 1969 versions of The Italian Job (we'll take Michael Caine over Mark Wahlberg). Also out, Down With Love features a director's commentary and deleted scenes; Disney's special-edition of 1994's The Lion King crams a bunch of extras on two discs; and Mike Nichols' 1983 Silkwood is new to DVD, with excellent performances from Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, and Cher. Willard offers Crispin Glover and rats a plenty; The Hard Word is a cheerful Aussie crime flick with Guy Pearce; and Aki Kaurismäki's The Man Without a Past has deadpan charm. Pick of the week: Ken Loach's brutal, truthful Sweet Sixteen. EDS.