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Dawn of the Dead (1978) – DVD Review


Written & Directed by: George A. Romero
Starring: Ken Foree, David Emge, Gaylen Ross, Scott H. Reiniger, Tom Savini


  • Running audio commentary with writer/director Romero, make-up artist/actor Savini, assistant director Chris Romero, moderated by Anchor Bay DVD producer Perry Martin
  • Theatrical trailers
  • TV spots
  • Radio spots
  • Poster & advertising gallery
  • George A. Romero bio
  • Comic book preview
  • Hidden interviews with Cris Romero & Savini

Released by: Anchor Bay
Region: 1
Rating: NR (most definitely not for kids–unless they’re sick like me)
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Hardcore should own; casual fans should hold off.

[ad#longpost]The worldwide zombie epidemic is growing worse and civilization is starting to fray at the edges. Anticipating that the entire shithouse is about to go up in flames, so to speak, a traffic reporter (Emge) decides to run off with his helicopter and take some friends: his girlfriend (Ross) and two SWAT officers (Foree & Reiniger). After making their way for a while, they happen across a place that offers both shelter and supplies: a large shopping mall.

One of the most enduring horror films of the 70s–or at least one of the ones that has the most to say as opposed to just having memorable slice-em-ups or the like–it’s my personal favorite out of Romero‘s trilogy. This is due to the fact that anyone who thinks these are zombie movies and zombie movies alone has completely missed the point. When a character states “They’re us,” in reference to the walking dead, he’s being…ah…dead on the money. And the best part is…it’s actually a horror movie: in that it actually adheres to what the genre really means. It wants to horrify you as opposed to simply scare you, like a suspense or thriller flick would. And the horror actually has nothing to do with the zombies–it’s brilliant any way you…ah…slice it.

The four leads are all especially strong, although the two standouts for me are always Foree and Reiniger. Reiniger because he seems to be the most stable and out of control at the beginning and thus has a great character arc, and Foree because he portrays such wanton badassery without even trying. Special points to Savini, who plays the leader of a motorcycle gang, and apparently did every stunt in the film. One of the highlights of the commentary track is him stopping to point out somebody getting smacked by a vehicle or falling from a high place of something–“That’s me!”

Ken Foree in Dawn of the Dead (1979)

Anchor Bay has made it no secret that a slightly more uber-mongo edition of the film is coming out later this year, so it’s obvious what our question must be: is this worthwhile to purchase in the meantime? The film itself is the U.S. theatrical cut–but if you’re like me, you’ve seen so many different cuts of the film it’s impossible to keep them straight. I didn’t notice anything particularly glaring as an omission. The commentary from both Romeros and Savini is informative and stays light–they had a blast working their asses off on the film, and they share plenty of good information: about the casting process and how in the hell Emge was able to pull off “that walk.”

Apart from the commentary, you get a pretty decent array of trailers and TV and radio spots–all amusing and we’re glad they’re preserved for posterity. There also two easter eggs of Chris Romero relating how she and George met and got hooked up, as well Savini relating a story about a practical joke that involves a severed head.

Attention All Shoppers--oh shit!

To answer my own question–this release is stacked enough where hardcores like myself (who have eight or nine different releases of the film already) will want to pick this up. It’s worth pointing out that the exact details of the edition for later this year haven’t been released, so who knows what will make its way over to it.

Update: Since this review was written, the Ultimate Edition has come out and is definitely the one to buy if you’re going to own one copy of this. You can purchase that here.