DAY OF THE DEAD
For ten years there were only
two American VHS releases of Day of the Dead. They were
essentially the same however. The first version was Media Home
Entertainment’s (M899), released May 20, 1986, on the BETA format as
well. The home video could be ordered to own for $79.99 - this was
before the late ‘80s home video explosion. A Canadian edit ran 91
minutes, explaining the mislabeled running time that wound up on all
videotapes. Image Entertainment rushed out a laserdisc (IE5048), in mono
as well, without any chapter stops.
The second was Video Treasures (SV9070) which was sold commercially
for $9.99, beginning August 15, 1988. It looked similar to the Media
box, except it reversed the artwork. Both prints were from the same
source and could be described as dark and murky with noticeable reel
changes. Both were recorded on SP mode, ran 100 minutes and had minor
differences. The Video Treasures edition removed the United Film
Distribution Company leader.
Anchor Bay offered another budget reissue (10138) of the Video
Treasures tape in July 1997. In October 1998 a new edition was released
to VHS with a faux widescreen transfer, a teaser (wrongly called a ‘trailer’
on the keepcase) and a 12-min. featurette culled from excerpts of an
unreleased 16mm documentary (see Bibl.). Liner notes taken from
the press kit were printed on the inside sleeve.
their extremely scant DVD, the print was not much better in quality, and
no booklet included (just a card listing the twelve chapter stops). For
its price of $24 one would expect a little more from such a long-awaited
DVD. Elite Entertainment was widely thought to own the rights to its DVD
release, but their rights were only to produce the laserdisc. Compared
to the discs they produced for Night and Dawn, done with
Don May Jr. before he left the company to form Synapse Films, the Day
"collector’s" laserdisc was disappointing and lacking
anything special. It simply used the same art Media did (without the
original Day logo), the same featurette and teaser Anchor Bay
did, with about 30 mins. of behind the scenes effects footage borrowed
from Tom Savini’s video journal on the set of the film.
The special edition DVD (DV12090), released August 19, 2003, was the
spectacular two disc edition fans were waiting for. Disc one had the
1.85:1 presentation with Dolby surround or DTS-ES audio tracks.
The audio commentary has Romero, Savini, Cletus Anderson and Lori
Cardille. The alternate commentary is by Day fan and filmmaker Roger
Avary, who provides another insight into the brilliance of everything
Day. Disc two is packed with bonus materials. There's a 39 min. 'all
new' documentary with on screen interviews with Mr. and Mrs. Romero,
Savini, Cardille, Joe Pilato and Howard Sherman and co-producer David
Ball. The next half hour is spent revisiting Savini's on-set video
footage of the effects. The last interview conducted with Richard
Liberty is included, a Wampum Industrial Facility promo, hundreds and
hundreds of production stills, poster, memorabilia and ad gallery,
continuity stills supplied by Cletus Anderson. A DVD ROM feature allows
fans to read PDF files of the original screenplays and Greg Nicotero's
production memos. Originally he was going to write a book but producer
Rubinstein wouldn't permit it. There are some mysterious dialogue
changes such as one of John's lines where he says "shit I could do
that even if all this wasn't going on", where shit is replaced by
"right". The UFDC leader was restored but the Saturn
soundtrack graphic removed at the end. In 2004 a single disc version
(DV12635) with just the commentaries was issued with the same cover only
with a blue-ish title.
The Japanese company Tohokushinsha managed to release it (TS-4637) on
the same day as the Media version with a cover based on the Japanese
style B poster. It had the poorer picture without question, but came
with a rarely seen Japanese trailer and beat Anchor Bay to the teaser
they used (the "wall of arms") by at least 12 years. The
ultimate feature was the fact that it was the only version released in
true stereophonic sound. The characters talking in the cave, you heard
the echoes and turned up loud to simulate a theatrical experience can
capture some of the tension and claustrophobia Romero intended. An
instrumental version of "The World Inside Your Eyes" ends the
film, with a graphic about the availability of the soundtrack at the
Only one scene was cut – for no conceivable reason: the one quick
shot of Sarah first chopping Miguel’s arm. The laserdisc counterpart
and VHD version (TFCD-1011) arrived in stores the same day (TS-S001).
Another laserdisc arrived for
the Japanese market May 29, 1997 from Japan Video Distribution
(58JL-21), dubbed the "producer’s version." This actually
was Taurus Entertainment’s TV version they were unable to license for
broadcast in the States.
The good news was it contained the best looking print of the film
ever seen; every zombie face was not obscured by shadows. There was the
bonus of the rare trailer of a Bub-like zombie watching Day in a movie
theater. However, the print had overly green saturation in places, was
mono, and cut down to 94 minutes! The cover, also disappointing, used
the wall of masks graphic. The DVD (JVDD-1001), belatedly issued two
years later in late October, was more exceptional with its wall of arms cover.
The plus was optional subtitles and 22 chapter
This version opens with the UFDC leader minus the ominous
"stinger" audio. All profanity has been dubbed over with
TV-friendly language: "shit" becomes "junk" or
"hogwash", "dumb fucks" becomes "dirt
bags", "fuck" becomes "freak", etc. Some of the
dialogue is completely redubbed to comedic effect, like when at the
meeting Rickles jokes "She don’t have to Captain. She’s got all
kinds of needles to get off on. Hey baby, stick me and I’ll start to
sing!" In the scene when Rhodes realizes Miguel’s escaped to the
surface, he mutters "So he’s alive because of her".
Close-ups of the dissected corpse, of the brains, viscera, bitings,
eatings, hackings, drilling and shooting are all cut out. Logan’s and
Fisher’s deaths are intact for some reason while all shots to the
heads of zombies have been cut, at some points, causing inconsistencies
in the background music. The soldier deaths are heavily cut – you don’t
even see what becomes of them, the scenes change after zombies grab them
and pull them away. Both silo zombies are missing as well as the entire
shovel gag scene.
France (Pioneer 100733) 12-13-99
Subtitled, 92 mins.
On PAL format, Great Britain saw various re-packagings of the Media
(with the masks artwork on the EIV label (EVS-1026) in 1987, 4 Front
Video/PolyGram (0868783 in 1993) and Anchor Bay videos (on the Arrow
FC062 in 1997 and 4 Front label in June 1998) each with minor violence
edits. Arrow issued a DVD (FCD062) on Oct. 4, 1999 of this edition as
4 Front Video/PolyGram (0610693) packaged Night of the Living
Dead/Day of the Dead for Oct. 1999 together with a red-tinted cover
of Red tinted Bub shaving.
Using its native art for a jacket, the German version from IMV (15-133)
is heavily cut down to 92 minutes and the back cover erroneously reads
(co-prod.) David Ball as producer and Miami Beach as the story’s
locale. The Dutch saw an uncut version from BDM Video (004) with a
well-composed collage cover depicting the three heroes with a larger
than life Beef Treats zombie behind.
CMV Laservision's DVD (9908-DVD) is
German-dubbed. 102 min, limited edition to 999. Clear plastic case
with bald head image from German poster on DVD picture disc.
From the collection of Michael Smith
Greece (Zodiac Video Z84)
ermany (Laser Paradise)
Red Edition. Uses
same artwork as 1998 Japanese laserdisc.
Disc 1 is the movie, a poor blowup of the old Media print dubbed in
German with slight letterboxing and in 5.1 stereo thanks to the old Jap.
laserdisc. Disc 2 is the supplementary disc: featurette, the
teaser, the trailer with Bub in the theater, the original Japanese
trailer, and get this, MY ENTIRE DAY WEBSITE translated in German as
well as Homepage of the Dead scans. Includes interviews with Joe
Pilato and Romero. Making matters worse legally anyway - they went
so far as to use the DAY footage from Scream Greats and dialogue
from Document of the Dead. Avoid this disc.
UK (Arrow FCD062) 10-4-99
Same as Arrow PAL tape.
UK (Arrow FCD062W) 2-5-01
Half of Bub's face superimposed on dark cover. Just a reissue of US
widescreen print with trailers for Night 30th, Dawn plus the Day teaser.
The same featurette, 29 stills accompany in a gallery and filmographies
on Romero and Savini also.
Hong Kong (Universal ISRC CN-C18-98-0268-0/V.J9)
Variation on the Anchor Bay DVD cover.
Video FV511 )
102 mins. (same as Anchor Bay). but with teaser, trailers for
Night and Dawn, Photo gallery, cast/crew bios, featurette.