DAWN OF THE DEAD
In the U.S. Dawn wasn’t
available for home viewing until 1983 when Thorn EMI Video released the
clamshell cased theatrical version (TV1977) in December, borrowing the
Posterbook cover graphic, just adding a green logo. Although it rented
well and sold respectably (even at a pricey $59.99) in early 1984, a
small-box commercial version didn’t arrive until summer 1987 as part of
the affordable HBO/Cannon Video reissues of early 80’s Thorn EMI vids.
Another small box edition, with a darker reprint of the pakaging and no
stills on the back, came out in 1989 from HBO/Weintraub. A BETA version
was only available on Thorn EMI Video (TXB 1977) until 1986. Republic
Video, as they did with Night, brought the dead to life again in
1992 with their Lumiere Pictures print of the theatrical version. This VHS
(5831) had noticeably sharper video and superior sound to the earlier
videos and retained the same basic packaging as the HBO/Cannon (note the
hooded mummy from basement on left corner of box). An interesting point
about these Republic tapes are that they all read 131 minutes for the
running time, but they were not longer prints. They simply didn’t tell
you that the tape also contained commercials for other features, Amityville:
A New Generation and Witchboard 2. The tapes were in available
for up to a year afterwards. Initially the covers read "director’s
cut" and were replaced with "unrated theatrical cut"
anticipating Anchor Bay’s upcoming ‘director’s cut’. In reality
Republic actually had the director’s cut!
Ironically Anchor Bay’s first release of
Dawn to video was a hasty EP budget version (SV10005) of the old
Thorn EMI print in early 1996. It was the first American VHS to use the
original US art, now in shades of orange and yellow. Just before Halloween
that same year, a long-awaited Collector’s Edition two-tape set with
purple logo (SV10006) arrived using the Elite Entertainment transfer
prepared for laserdisc. First editions were released full screen in err,
revealing more picture top and bottom that was cut off by the black
matting of the laserdisc. This was corrected in subsequent editions. The
second tape includes the last hour or so of the movie plus a few domestic
and two European trailers. Three years later, AB were at it again,
discontinuing this version, and offering a full screen VHS (SV10781) as
the 20th Anniversary Director’s Cut! Simultaneously they put
together a widescreen, 128 minute print (with the police dock scene almost
all intact) as the 20th Anniversary Theatrical Cut (SV10780).
Psychedelic Andy Warhol soupcan-inspired artwork adorned the covers.
Originally Japan’s Victor company issued two prints of Zombie on VHS.
The first from 1985 (JHF-0106) was of the Italian zombie crowd art. In
1990, the elevator burst shot was used (JSL-10005). In 1994, Emotion Gaga
issued two VHS videos. The first edition (AKC ACH1-31201) was the
so-called "director's cut" with elevator burst cover. The second
(AKC ACH1-31202) was the 119min. "Argento's cut" with a cover of
the zombie crowd Italian art. Released in conjunction with the laserdisc
on March 24, 1995, both editions were re-released with chrome versions of
In the United Kingdom, Intervision/Alpha Video released the first video
(AA0358) on PAL VHS and BETA ever of Dawn, entitled Zombies
and running 119 mins. with all gore cut. Cover was the same as quad art.
After being out of print for eleven years, 4 Front/PolyGram re-issued it (EIV
086-198-3) with new art: Stephen’s zombified face caught in a crosshairs
with a red logo in the same font as sequel Day of the Dead. This
version is of collector’s interest. Although essentially a heavily cut
version of the U.S. theatrical cut, the main difference is that before
Fran wakes in the station, the film turns blue. The logo of Dawn lifted
from the Day trailer is inserted in place of the standard title!
Entertainment In Video re-issued it (EVS-1027) in 1995. The 140m. cut made
its UK debut on BMG Video (74321-443663) two years later. A photo of the
bald airport zombie in black and white took up the cover.
In Australia, the 138m version had already been released by CBS/FOX (6594)
in October 1985. The cover was a photo of Stephen zombified, and the back
read: ‘This is the complete full-length version, originally released on
16mm for non-theatrical presentation. Due to the age and scarceness of the
material on this videocassette the picture quality might not be up to our
usual standards.’ The theatrical version (6594-50) was issued at the
same time with the same cover. This was re-issued with a variation on the
bald zombie artwork and the comment: "There is no doubt that this the
most gruesome horror movie of our time."
Spain’s IVS/New Line issued two versions
with number (3093) in 1987, both badly dubbed 127 min. versions and with
dark contrast. The first was commercially sold (machete art from French
poster) and the other was the rental only with unique artwork of Peter
with his M-16 and zombies all around (Flyboy up top). Because of the
notoriety at that point of The Return of the Living Dead, which had
been released as El Regreso de los Muertos Vivientes, Zombi’s
former subtitle was changed to El Crespescule de los Muertos Vivientes
or Twilight of the Living Dead.
Italy first issued Zombi on Playtime (?) in 1986 with a very silly
painting of a zombie face and two SWAT troopers who looked nothing like
Peter or Roger. Further proving the distributor had no clue, the back has
a still from Day of the Dead. Cardinal Pictures’ (284/80171) was
not much better.
One of the best looking prints had to be
from the Netherlands’ Cor Koppies Video (50420). Subtitled In De
Greep Van De Zombies (roughly "In the Grasp of the
Zombies"), the colors are bright and clear for a VHS. Plus there’s
no dubbing, just subtitles. All the gore in the Euro version is intact and
it runs 115 mins. Dutch Film Works issued a Hi-Fi stereo edition of a 141
min. print (DFW K00925) in 2000 with a cover almost exactly the same as UK
The German market started with a dubbed 115 minute cut from Marketing Film
(VV 3015) in 1983. The BETA edition (VU-3015) was identical to the VHS,
except covers give top billing to David Crawford (the actor who played Dr.
Foster) instead of the lead David Emge! A 109 min. version appeared in
1991 on VPS Video (3881) but unlike the colorful photographic covers of
the former tapes, it had a basic black cover with just the red splashy
logo. In the 1990’s, Astro reissued Zombie several times. The 117 min.
cut with Spanish video artwork (01/96) and with the French crowd art
(NF20303). Both of these artworks were re-used for the Ultimate Final Cut
dubbed Zombies Im Kaufhaus (NF 344404-VI). This was a poorly
transferred 156 min. composite for die-hards only. UFA Buscher-Film issued
Zombie on Super 8mm over 3 reels.
The French released a dubbed print that ran 100 mins. on SECAM format in
1986 on Rene Chateau Video. Another emerged in 1997 as part of the
Cinefantastique Mad Movies Series from TFI Video. This jacket had a tinted
picture of blonde truck zombie, with elevator shot at bottom.
Venezuela (ADB Video BC-A036)
Rising zombie head, 125 min, Spanish subs.
Australia (reissue of above)
Cover: One of the strangest, a skeleton
silhouetted with "Mortos Vivos: La Batalla Final".
Germany (Astro NF 344404-VI)
French crowd art, 156 min, The Ultimate Final Cut.
Germany (Astro NF20303) 1998
French crowd art. 117m
Germany (X rated Video)
Netherlands (Movies Select Video 2731) 1993
"In De Greep Van De Zombies." 120 mins.