2020 has certainly been the year of the boxset. We’ve had the ultimate Star Wars boxset (sadly missing Solo and Rogue One), Mary Millington, Fu Manchu and now probably the best of the lot George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.
Although this film has been re-released probably more times than your average James Bond film Second Sight has delivered probably THE version which will now be defined as the ultimate edition.
If there’s anyone still out there who hasn’t seen or heard of the film, I will quickly recap the story. The world is being overrun by zombies, four people manage to escape a TV station in a helicopter and find a deserted shopping mall. It seems the ultimate place to sit it all out but first they must clear the mall of zombies and then it all goes pear shaped. These zombies are the slow shuffling kind so outrunning them isn’t hard (unlike the sprinters in the remake) and all walks of life get their ‘zombie’ moment.
Enough of the film so lets get into what you get in this simply monstrous box. Three cuts of the film on either 4K or Blu-ray, stacks of extras, 3 CD’s of soundtrack music, the novelisation and a chunky book with writings on the film.
The three versions of Dawn of the Dead will be familiar to appreciators of the horror genre and are Romero’s original unrated theatrical version (butchered for years here in the UK), an earlier ‘Cannes’ cut which is ten minutes longer and Dario Argento’s (he was a co-producer and financer) Italian version entitled ‘Zombi’ which is shorter and scored mainly by Goblin rather than George’s library sourced music. If the title Zombi is familiar to you, a certain Lucio Fulci did an unofficial sequel shortly after which became more famous going by the name of Zombie Flesh Eaters in the UK and Zombie in the States.
All films have been restored and cleaned from various high quality sources along with remastered soundtracks. George’s original and the Italian version have various audio tracks to try out on your home cinema setup. Me being the old fart that I am prefer the mono version(s) as that would obviously been the sound most likely heard back in the 70’s. The picture is excellent and even better in the 4K versions Second Sight must be commended for their stellar work.
With regards to the special features, the films all have commentaries and everyone of them is worth a listen. The extras are rammed with documentaries, trailers, interviews and two versions of Roy Frumkes cracking full length documentary Document of the Dead. Frumkes’ film was even given an individual release years ago as I had a copy of on VHS.
Dawn of the Dead is a timeless film, still brilliant after all these years and with the world in a bit of a crazy place at the moment more timely than ever. Although Day of the Dead is my favourite of George’s films, DOTD is right up there with the best of them, a classic of cinema and beautifully presented in this exquisite package.