my thoughts of Scream Factory's Day of the Dead (1985) Blu-ray, I'll cut to the chase. Although I will say that I'm a huge fan of Dawn of the Dead and own multiple releases across different formats from various countries. Being still in the stoneage, I lack a BD-ROM, so sorry, no direct screenshots. I viewed this BD on a calibrated Panasonic TC-P50VT25 plasma and Samsung HL-P5085W (720p) DLP using an non-modded Sony BD-P185 (the disc loaded up quickly with zero issue).
First, the specifications, as reported here, the encode is indeed MPEG-4 AVC on a 50GB disc. Bitrates tend to mean nothing, but megabytes per second never seems to dip below thirty-five and spike into the forties. The English 5.1 track is in lossless Dolby TrueHD with their recent 96kHz upsampling feature (confirmed 96kHz by my Onkyo, hovering around 2.0mbps). Both the English and Japanese Dub 2.0 are standard 640kHz Dolby. All three tracks sound fine but the 5.1 track has a distinct harshness at times due to the age of the film. Two sets of non-forced Japanese subtitles, not even on by default when selecting English audio.
The only extras are three original US trailers/teasers in full frame standard definition. There are twenty-five chapter stops and the total feature runtime is 2:07:02. Just to compare the Arrow Video UK runs 2:07:03 while the Anchor Bay US runs 2:07:06. There appears to be nothing different about the Japanese disc and other releases of the theatrical version. The Blu-ray case is a thicker style case with a small flyer advertising a few other horror discs from Stingray.
On to the good aspects of Happinet/Stingray's transfer. Overall, the image quality is noticeably improved over both the Anchor Bay and Arrow BDs. Both of those suffer from varying degrees of digital noise reduction, employed as part of a quick "remastering", only hampering fine detail. The Anchor Bay BD especially looks downright blurry. The lack of this on this Happinet BD with healthy grain structure leads to clothing and facial detail being much more lifelike and look less like watching video. On those grounds, this is certainly the best the film has ever looked on home video.
One of the more obvious examples is the fluorescent tube right outside the door where the group is holding up. It's so super fucking bright there's distortion to the shots it's featured in. The same light on the Anchor Bay and Arrow looks perfectly normal. As noted, this problem also appears in the sky at times, totally blanking out clouds. Especially apparent in the shot of the zombie climbing out of a junker while Roger's trying to hotwire one of the BP trucks. The sky behind the zombie is so bleached white that it almost obscures him. And again the sky in both the US and UK discs looks fine in this regard.
This generally bright contrast only exacerbates what print damage is present. I'm not one to throw a bitchfest over some lines and flecks (both the US and UK have such damage), but there's a really odd anomaly that appears repeatedly throughout. As pictured above, "rainbowing" aliasing pops up to the center right of the frame. It only lasts for a frame or two and takes on different "blob" or line shapes that sometimes move in a strobing fashion before disappearing. The most effected portion of the film is when the young SWAT member commits suicide up until Roger escapes to the basement for relief. Can anyone identify what could be causing this? I'm at a loss to whether it's on the print or haywire digital encoding. Both displays I viewed this BD on exhibited this and I've never seen anything quite like it. Regarding the other "normal" damage, it's interesting this presentation doesn't share any of same wear-and-tear seen on the Anchor Bay or Arrow.
An example being when the old priest surprises Peter and Roger in the tenement cellar. The shot of the priest looks normal while the very next shot of the two SWAT members aiming their rifles at him leans red. Or the climax before zombified Stephen reaches their hideout. The shots of Peter telling Fran about Stephen are very warmly hued, then suddenly after the door is wrenched open, the color turns cool. This isn't a massive issue, but the Anchor Bay and Arrow definitely have more consistent, but probably still not "accurate" color schemes.
So it's really a judgment call. The increase in detail is very clear and fantastic to finally see after all these years. Yet the problems described above are also quite apparent. With Anchor Bay's DVD/BD distribution license recently expiring, it's up to how long you're willing to wait for a better or worse Blu-ray re-release. Although if you're a fanatic you'll of course want this edition as it's not just a simple port of an existing transfer (like Happinet's Day of the Dead BD). You can certainly see the potential for a truly fantastic presentation of Dawn of the Dead in this release, but ultimately we're not quite there.