Zombies are a big business, with hundreds of films, video games, TV shows, and comics all including the shuffling (and occasionally running) undead. Despite the prevalence of zombies in pop culture today, and some would say over-saturation of the creatures, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would deny that George A. Romero is still the undisputed king of the zombie genre, and the man who made the creatures what they are today.
Whilst some of the later films in the series would be less well received, the early films are still considered some of the best in horror, and cinema in general. The new limited edition release of Dawn of the Dead from Second Sight Films presents one of these amazing movies in what might be the best package yet.
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The film follows a group of survivors following a mysterious phenomena that has swept through the United States, resulting in the dead coming back to life as walking corpses that seek to eat the flesh of the still living. Three weeks into this event we find Peter (Ken Foree), Stephen (David Emge), Fran (Gaylen Ross), and Roger (Scott H. Reiniger), four survivors who come together in a plan to try to flee from the carnage that’s overwhelming Philedelphia. Together the four of them find their way to a local shopping mall that they decide to make their home. Blocking the entrances and killing the zombies within, they make the mall habitable and settle in to ride out the crisis. But things don’t quite go as they planned…
There have been a lot of releases and editions for Dawn of the Dead – it is after all one of the most beloved horror films of all time – so what makes this edition stand out amongst the competitors? Well, for starters it’s been given a new 4K scan, and the film has been given a restoration, meaning that this is easily one of the best looking versions of it that you’ll see. With so many older films being transfered to DVD and Blu-ray, it can be easy to find some where they’ve just been put onto new formats with little care given to the quality, and there are Blu-rays out there that look barely above VHS quality. This edition has been given the time and care it deserves to make it jump out on the screen, and it definitely shows.
Not only has the film been given a lovely restoration, but it’s also packed with extras. The set comes with seven discs in total, as well as some extra treats like a 160 page booklet filled with essays, and the novelisation of the film. The first disc has the original theatrical cut of the film, as well as two audio commentaries, including one with director George A. Romero, special effects artist and horror legend Tom Savini, and actress Christine Forrest; who is also married to Romero. The second disc has the extended ‘Cannes’ cut of the film, along with a commentary from producer Richard P. Rubinstein. Disc three has the third version of the movie, the Argento Cut, which is slightly shorter than the theatrical edition, but also comes with a cast commentary.
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If you’re still hungry for more after watching all those versions and listening to the multiple commentaries, the fourth disc comes packed with a host of special features and behind the scenes extras, including several new documentaries and interviews. One of these new special features, ‘Memories of Monroeville’, follows Michael Gornick, Tom Savini, Tom Dubensky, and Taso Stavrakis as they return to the mall where the film was shot, and share memories and behind the scenes stories about the production. The disc also includes two documentary films, including Document of the Dead, which followed Romero during the production of the film, and even comes with an extended cut and commentary too. The final three discs are audio CDs packed with music and soundtracks from the film.
I don’t think it’s too big a stretch to say that this is easily the definitive set of Dawn of the Dead, and is a must have for any fan of the franchise, horror nerd, or movie lover in general. An absolutely stand out set.
Dawn of the Dead is out on Limited Edition 4K UHD Blu-ray on 16th November from Second Sight Films.