InsidePulse DVD Review – Zombi – The European Cut of Dawn of the Dead

John Carpenter

David Emge …. Stephen
Ken Foree …. Peter
Scott H. Reiniger …. Roger
Gaylen Ross …. Francine
David Crawford …. Dr. Foster
David Early …. Mr. Berman
Richard France …. Dr. Milliard Rausch, Scientist
Howard Smith …. TV Commentator
Daniel Dietrich …. Givens
Pasquale Buba …. Motorcycle Raider with tommy gun
Tom Savini …. Blades
Tony Buba …. Motorcycle Raider wearing sombrero
Marty Schiff …. Motorcycle Raider – Blades’ sidekick
Joe Shelby …. Motorcycle Raider – Van driver #1/Martinez, bandit leader
Dave Hawkins …. Motorcycle Raider
Taso N. Stavrakis …. Motorcycle Raider – Sledge/Various Zombies (as Taso Stavrakos)
Tom Kapusta …. Motorcycle Raider with seltzer bottle
Nick Tallo …. Motorcycle Raider
Rudy Ricci …. Motorcycle Raider, radio operator
Larry Vaira …. Motorcycle Raider
Sharon Ceccatti …. Lead Zombie (nurse)
Pam Chatfield …. Lead Zombie

The Movie
Few Horror films are as revered as Dawn of the Dead. George Romero’s 1978 sequel to Night of the Living Dead may actually be the most popular of the director’s quadrilogy of zombie epics, with its scathing look at human consumerism and greed even amongst its apocalyptic setting. The film set the standard for an entire subgenre of films featuring the walking dead.

What’s inspiring is the film is so simple. The film is the tale of four survivors, Stephen (David Emge), Peter (Ken Foree), Roger (Scott H. Reiniger), and Francine (Gaylen Ross), who are simply trying to find a place where they can live in peace with minimal Zombie threat. They steal a helicopter and eventually find an abandoned mall. They seal off the doors and decide to make the mall their home. All is fine until a gang of bikers come to claim the mall for themselves, starting a war with our heroes and the hundreds of zombies surrounding the mall.

Now there are several versions of this film out there. The best version is still the film’s original theatrical version that runs 126 minutes. It says all it needs to say and while it doesn’t match Tom Savini’s gore work on Day of the Dead (Well, what film really does?), the makeup here is still very effective. The “Director’s Cut” of Dawn runs 139 minutes, but really doesn’t add anything special to the film. The cut on this DVD is the European version of the film, which is actually only 117 minutes in length.

This cut of the film of was edited by Italian Horror master Dario Argento. Argento was one of the Producers of the film, and perhaps thought that the film would not be received as well in Europe during the film’s funnier moments. Re-titled Zombi this version of Dawn of the Dead features a much faster pace and has a completely different feel to it at times.

Many of the kills that the original is famous for have been left out. Early on in the original version, the foursome land in an airfield to stop and get fuel for their chopper and get their bearings. While there, the group is attacked by a few stragglers of zombies, including one that gets killed by having the top part of his head cut off by the helicopter’s blades. This is the first major kill that is left out of the film.

Another deletion is one of the film’s most cherished. While escaping from the hordes of zombies infesting the mall, one of the bikers wearing a sombrero (Tony Buba), stops to take his blood pressure. Its never really explained what his fascination is with this blood pressure machine, only that it sets up the film’s biggest joke where his arm gets tore off and the machine reads “000/000”. If you’re a big fan of the kill, then you’ll be disappointed as it’s not here in this cut.

The biggest difference in this cut as opposed to the American Theatrical release is the score by Goblin. The soundtrack is given a mood much more in tune with the rest of the genre here as many of the moments that come off as goofy have been removed. The most significant changes in the score are the removal of the mall “jingle” and the heroic fanfare at the film’s close. Both have been replaced by moodier pieces that reflect what Argento was trying to do with this cut of the film.

So what are you left with? Well you’re still left with one of the greatest Horror films of all time. Some of the bells and whistles are gone, but you’ve still got a great movie. The cuts and changes really don’t make a huge difference either way, but it is fun to see this version. Some will hate this film, and some will love it. Taking out the “sombrero” knocks it down half a notch, but that’s it.

Score: 9.5/10

The DVD:

The Video
The film is presented in an Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Anchor Bay really used to put out a lot of shoddy versions of great films. They would often have a lot of grain and be really hard to watch. Those days are definitely over. For a film that was made in 1978 for $500,000 this movie looks absolutely fantastic. In fact it probably looks better on this disc than it did on screen. At any rate the transfer here is pristine. Bravo to Anchor Bay.

Score: 10/10

The Audio

The movie sounds just as good as it looks. The Goblin score beams out in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that is absolutely beautiful.

Score: 9.0/10

SPECIAL FEATURES:Audio Commentary, Trailers, Advertising and Artwork Gallery

Audio Commentary with Actors David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, and Gaylen Ross – This is a really spirited commentary track. All four actors are in the same room and have a great time together. The track itself is fast paced and has a lot of great anecdotes. The cast really like to point out little mistakes, such as when Stephen the “Flyboy” first comes on screen and Gaylen Ross calls him David by mistake. Apparently the actress was out of town when the film was in the editing process, so film makers had to just go with it and hope no one noticed. Other great moments have the cast making fun of each other as in one scene Ken Foree’s Peter is in a pimpin’ fur coat and the other two men on the track keep telling him he looks like he’s in drag.

International Theatrical Trailers and UK TV spots – This is an assortment of international Dawn of the Dead trailers.

Advertising and Artwork Gallery – An extensive look at promotional material containing several International Lobby Cards, International Posters, a, International Pressbook Gallery and Home Video & Soundtrack Artwork.

Dario Argento Bio – An essay on the director’s work.

Score: 5.0/10

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