By Chaz Lipp

We’ve been following the controversy over the now-sold-out Twilight Time limited edition Blu-ray of Tom Savini’s Night of the Living Dead (1990) right from the start. All 3,000 copies were snatched up within days of being available for pre-order exclusively through Twilight Time’s distributor Screen Archives. Then word got around that the film looked significantly different than it ever had before, be it during its original theatrical release or on any home video format.

The fan outcry was immediate. Though Twilight Time’s presentation was solid in terms of clarity and detail (see our review), it was struck from a master provided by Sony that had been created a couple years before. The color timing had been radically altered, resulting in a darker look and bluish tint for much of the film (see screencaps at Dread Central). The firestorm of criticism sparked a prompt statement from Twilight Time, who quickly stated “we have discussed NOTLD at the studio and are able to verify via [Sony Pictures Entertainment]’s Mastering Department, that our Blu-ray is indeed the approved transfer from 2010, generated for the film’s 20th anniversary, and done in consultation with the film’s director of photography.”
We reached out to the man behind the camera himself, Frank Prinzi. Was he, in fact, involved in Sony’s new color timing of the film he served as director of photographer on more than 20 years ago? Mr. Prinzi responded with the following comments.
FRANK PRINZI: I have to let you know that I haven’t seen the transfer on Blu-ray, on a good screen, yet. I just saw [a] quick clip on the internet and what I saw looked bad. I was consulted verbally a couple of years back but was never given a “first draft” copy of the transfer to give my true feedback. It went from words to visuals. The range of interpretation is limitless. The words “cool” or “darker” can be taken in so many ways that without a visual marker to refer to, one can go in any direction. From what I hear the direction taken did not bring pleasing results to many.
What is revealing is the fact that his consultation for the new transfer apparently amounted to little more than an offer of general suggestions. Sony took the ball and ran with it, and two years later the DP-“consulted” transfer hasn’t been seen by the man himself.

Chaz Lipp

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