While the huge influence his Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead/Day of the Dead trilogy had on horror cinema ensures that the late George A. Romero will always be remembered as the 'father of the zombie film', his 40-year career as a filmmaker understandably dealt with more than just the undead.
This revealing set houses three of the four films Romero shot between his 1968 debut Night of the Living Dead and its 1978 follow-up Dawn of the Dead (1978's Martin sadly remains MIA on Blu-ray).
Notable as one of only two films that he directed and didn't write, 1971 counterculture comedy There's Always Vanilla doesn't quite hold together, but is still far from being the 'total mess' Romero later deemed it to be.
More interesting still is 1973's Season of the Witch, a mini-masterpiece of suburban witchcraft with a strong feminist subtext. Hacked about by its distributors and released in various different cuts, the film was even marketed as a softcore exploitation flick called Hungry Wives.
1973's The Crazies is another of Romero's brutal (and blackly comic) allegories concerning societal breakdown – this time caused by the accidental release of a military bio-weapon – and is both an entertaining film in its own right and a trial run for several of the ideas and themes he would end up refining in Dawn of the Dead.
Picture: Arrow undertook its own restorations of the three films for this set. The 2K restoration of There's Always Vanilla does the best it can with the source elements, but there are obvious issues with colour stability and damage that stems from the unstable film stock. Season of the Witch and The Crazies (both restored at 4K) look much better – although an alternate 104-minute cut of the former has to use quite rough looking SD inserts as the best available option for its additional footage.
Picture rating: 3.5/5
Audio: The trio of LPCM 1.0 mono tracks perfectly replicate the limited dynamic range of the source materials while also doing a surprisingly good job of showing up all of the ADR work (and there's a lot of it). Authentic then, technically sound considering the quality of the source material, but from a home cinema perspective: not exactly what you'd call exciting.
Audio rating: 3/5
Extras: In addition to a fascinating 58-page book about the films, the discs themselves house a generous clutch of extras. These include chat-tracks from film journalist Travis Crawford, new and archival interviews, photo galleries, alternate opening titles, behind-the-scenes footage and trailers.
Extras rating: 4/5
We say: Hardly an AV showcase, but still a fascinating package for fans of the influential filmmaker.
George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn, Arrow Video, All-region BD £ R0 DVD, £60
HCC VERDICT: 3.5/5
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