DAWN OF THE
DEAD DVDS &
The Japanese were first to release a Dawn
of the Dead laserdisc in 1985. Pioneer (SF098-0076) pressed the two
disc set as they did with Night of the Living Dead previously. The cover
featured a silhouetted gas mask, the back a mosaic of color stills. The
inside opened into a gatefold with black and white pictures of various
international posters and soundtrack LP covers. An insert booklet was also
included summarizing the film and its 118 chapters (!). The picture
quality is fair, although richer than the American print from Thorn EMI
Video. Extras included the European trailer and a TV spot for Night of
the Living Dead. The same year in Japan, the Victor Company released
the film as a double VHD (the Asian version of the CED Videodisc, VHP39013
Four years later, Thorn EMI Video’s print was released by Image
Entertainment (ID6683HB) as another two disc set, with chapter stops.
Notable is the final half hour, pressed in CAV format for slow motion
capability or still framing. However, all pressings seem to be faulty –
the shaky frames are anything but still. Image also included a three page
interview with George Romero with the disc entitled ‘I Am Legend’.
Utilizing a very similar cover scheme,
Republic (LV25831) released yet another 126 minute print, transferred by
Lumiere Pictures, in the U.S. on Sept. 23, 1993. Unfortunately it was not
chapter indexed, and the cover was pressed with an incorrect running time
of 131 minutes. And like the recalled VHS, it too was labeled
Three years later, Japan’s Zombie love affair continued with an
impressive box set called Zombie Perfect Collection, licensed by
Gaga Communications to Emotion (BELL-745). This marked the debut of the
Argento edit (119 minutes) and Cannes cuts (138 minutes) on laserdisc both
subtitled in Japanese. The gas mask image made another appearance on the
silver mylar box cover. A well-illustrated program book came complete with
collectibles in full color at the end as well as an amusing chapter on the
film’s mistakes with screen captures. After Romero's Cannes cut there is
a video interview with the director conducted from inside his home at the
time by the laserdisc’s producers.
Following the enormous reception of the Night
of the Living Dead restoration, Elite Entertainment’s Don May Jr.
and Vini Bancalari pursued MKR Group for the rights to Dawn of the Dead
to bring the 138 minute Cannes cut to laserdisc for the first time in
America, in widescreen. As with Night and many of their titles, two
editions were pressed. The first (EE3296) shipped October 30, 1996 after
months of excellent pre-orders, was a basic CLV disc with only one trailer
as a supplement. The infamous bald zombie head peering over the horizon
graced the cover with a colorful pink sky behind it. The transfer was
astounding, crisp and sharp, making the film look better than it ever had
before. The second version actually looked better since it was the CAV
"collector’s edition" (EE6255) shipped December 24, 1996. The
film was given 67 chapters, a thorough supplementary section comprised of
original theatrical trailers, four TV spots, radio spot, scenes from Zombie
(the Argento cut), a readable original shooting script, a hundred or
so still photos, posters and collectibles and fan testimonials, including
an amusing appearance by a Japanese monk named Yoshi after the producer
credits. The back cover synopsis reports that there is an additional 15
mins. of footage (whereas the VHS reports 11 mins.); they are the same
print, and the actual amount is accurate on the VHS.
The Japanese licensed the Elite discs and
their supplements (including commentary) for yet another box set from Beam
Entertainment called The Conclusion box set (BILF-9003) released on
October 25, 1998. They even included the CD soundtrack.
In Europe meanwhile, PAL format laserdiscs surfaced with Germany’s Astro
licensing the 117 min. Argento print (NF 20303-LD) in limited editions of
1,000 pressings. 1.66:1 widescreen. Laser Paradise issued the VPS Video
print (1964/117) in 1998 with a strangely familiar cover art. The Republic
laserdisc’s border was used but instead of the Thorn EMI Video cover
photo, they used the German theatrical artwork from Day of the Dead
of the bald zombie on a green horizon.
Following their moderate success with the
VHS, Anchor Bay Entertainment offered the first American Dawn DVD
on November 4, 1997 (DV10325). It was identical in design to the VHS
counterpart and the same print with even less extras – one trailer in
fact. An "anniversary edition" (DV10731) was released April 27,
1999 in conjunction with the VHS of the strange 128 minute print. Both
were 1.66:1 widescreen with a few more extras this time - trailer, some
bootleg quality scenes from "Zombi" and a Monroeville Mall spot.
All unremarkable in light of the laserdisc from Elite Ent. a few years
before. But the supplementary section itself was not licensed to Anchor
Bay at that time and purely the property of Elite, which was now run by
It was another five years before Anchor
Bay would issue the old theatrical version in widescreen (DV12163) without
the strange extra scenes. This edition followed their amazing Day of
the Dead Divimax release, but with far less extras: an all-new
commentary by Romeros and Savini, the usual 2 trailers, 3 tv spots,
numerous radio spots, poster and ad gallery (mainly South Florida
newspaper microfilm printouts). There are no shots of the soundtrack, or
board game, and no color stills, just black and white press shots and the
advance one-sheet. For some reason, an image of a Japanese postcard subs
for the actual one-sheet image. As it appears, many people believe that
Anchor Bay rushed this edition out March 9, 2004 to coincide with the
remake's release (3/19/04). The insert is two pages of liner notes that
surprisingly doesn't overstate the film's importance.
Region 2 DVDs were quickly licensed to Europe, firstly to the BMG label
(VFB11214) in the U.K. Interestingly, the company sought their own
commentary once again by Tom Savini with friend and Dawn fan Chris
Stavrakis (the brother of Taso Stavrakis). A still gallery also was
provided. This disc, utilizing the same artwork as the BMG PAL cassette,
was released October 25, 1999.
German company Laser Paradise (1997-100)
released their "Red Edition" boxed set a month later in a
limited edition of 1,000. This set included the Cannes and Argento cuts.
Another cash cow scheme emerged in 2002 as a 6-disc Zombie Survivor Set
(1997-307) which included Romero/Argento Zombi
cuts and Zombie (Lucio Fulci), and two of its sequels.
The two previously released Japan laserdiscs edits were released on DVD by
Beam Entertainment. The first (BIBF-1125) released Oct. 25, 1999 is the
standard Japanese version, an Argento edit at 119 minutes. Cover borrows
the Italian three-sheet scheme. The second (BIBF-1187) arrived exactly two
months later, and was the Cannes cut, with a photo of the zombies on the
skating rink for the cover.
The Netherlands (DVD0925) rushed out a
double DVD set for 2000 with the same cover as the UK BMG release. Disc
One is the Cannes cut with Disc Two including Argento's cut (at 117 min.) and
the infamous documentary Document of the Dead. There are even more
extra features: Biographies, Filmographies, Theatrical Trailer,
Monroeville Mall Commercial Spot, Trailers for Night and Day,
and a Photo Gallery. And Astro, ever-fixated on how many times they can
reissue the same picture, assembled a special multi-tape or multi-disc set
called Trilogy of the Dead (66666-VI) in Dec. 2000 with 537minutes of both
Dawns, Night, Day and a documentary. If that was enough a t-shirt,
baseball cap and booklet were also provided.
Germany (X Rated ) 2002
Cover says "Zombie 1" with art taken from the posterbook
foldout, Romero interview, trailer.
Italy ( CVC DSC01S411) 01
114m. in 5.1 Dolby!! Removable subtitles.