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By James Whittington, Monday 16th November 2020 Dawn of the Dead: Limited 4K Edition Certificate 18 Second Sight Films
Arriving 10 years after the seminal Night of the Living Dead had ushered in a new era of zombie films, George A Romero returned to his undead roots to deliver, what many consider to be the greatest zombie, if not horror movie of all time, Dawn of the Dead.
The movie has been released many times, from laserdisc to VHS to Blu-ray and as fans will know, there are a number of different editions of the movie, The Theatrical Cut, The Extended ('Cannes') Cut and The Argento Cut so you'd think by now fans would have everything they ever wanted from this movie. Well, Second Sight Films are releasing a 4K edition which can only be described as "essential".
With a zombie epidemic escalating, a small band of survivors seek refuge in that shrine to capitalism, the shopping mall. But the undead, still possessed by an instinctive desire to consume, have had the same idea...What follows is a nail-biting thrill-ride and fight to survive.
This is truly an exceptional movie. Beyond all the horror and gore is a story which pushes the themes of commercialism, pure hate and life's meaning into a solid piece of storytelling. Romero, here at his creative peak, populates the movie with fully rounded characters who are doing more than just trying to survive. The cast give depth and truth to their lines, even during the most extreme moments, this is exactly how people would react to such a situation. For some it would be "everyone for themselves" whilst for others law and order are the only way we could survive. All bases are covered in Dawn of the Dead, and even though the remake from a 2004 was indeed very good, it is no match for this edition.
Before I look at the extras in this set let me just say that these transfers contain so much detail its as if the film could have been yesterday. Seriously, this in now the benchmark in quality for the movie(s). Every scene is bathed in solid colour which never bleeds around the edges even during the most violent and blood-splattered sequences. The soundtracks are clean and crisp, slightly shrill in places, but this is due to the technology of the time.
The extras on disc 4 are as comprehensive to say the least. New documentaries include: Zombies and Bikers with John Amplas, Roy Frumkes, Tom Savini, Christine Forrest, Tom Dubensky, Tony Buba, Taso Stavrakis and a whole host of zombies and bikers; Memories of Monroeville: a tour of the mall with Michael Gornick, Tom Savini, Tom Dubensky and Taso Stavrakis; Raising the Dead: The Production Logistics: with Michael Gornick, Christine Forrest, John Amplas, Tom Dubensky; The FX of Dawn with Tom Savini; Dummies! Dummies!: An interview with Richard France; The Lost Romero Dawn Interview: previously unreleased archive interview. These would normally be sufficient but Second Sight have delved into the archives to bring us the superb Document of the Dead piece which is incredibly in-depth as well as Super 8 Mall Footage by zombie extra Ralph Langer, The Dead Will Walk documentary from 2014 as well as copious amounts of trailers, TV and radio spots.
All of these extras combine to be the definitive history of the movie in all its forms and yet, the set continues to offer more value for money. Inside you'll find three audio CDs, one contains the unforgettable soundtrack from Goblin and the other two are De Wolfe Library Compilations.
Two books make up the rest of the package; a 160 page hardback book featuring 17 new essays, archive article and George A Romero interview, plus original marketing, artwork and merchandise images, and behind-the-scenes stills and Dawn of the Dead: The novelisation book by George A Romero and Susanna Sparrow with exclusive artwork.
Second Sight have given Dawn of the Dead a truly magnificent release, the word "definitive" has never been more appropriate. Just wish I could give it more than five stars!
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