Zombi: Dawn of the Dead (Argento Cut)

"Jesus…They're everywhere."


Zombi: Dawn of the Dead (Argento Cut)

We all know the story to the sequel of Night of the Living Dead. The zombies continue to invest all of the country. With Romero in need of financing, Argento jumps on board and helps come up with the remaining cash needed to complete the film. . In exchange, Argento gets the rights to release it in Europe and re-cut the film as he deems fit, rewrite small pieces of the script, co- produce the Goblin soundtrack to accompany the Euro release. He retitles it Zombi (this is why Fulci's original title was Zombie 2-to cash in on a sequel A.S.A.P.-It's a work of art though!) and changes a few things. Normally this would be considered a disaster, but his vision lends itself to the work nicely, and we are left with a version which further accentuates the helplessness portrayed in Romero's cut.

What makes this film so special is how it is able to transcend the mere horror label and rise to a more philosophical one. This film contains so much important commentary on social issues, that you can't take it all in with just one sitting. While dealing with relationship issues between man and woman, friends, and lovers, there is an abundance of deeper, more important topics tackled within. Take for instance, the absence of racism between these four contemporaries. Or what about the harsh attack on consumerism? Or quite possibly the whole concept of breaking free from the pack and carving your own path? When you break it down, what we have within has nothing to do with zombies. These "zombies" are simply a metaphor for mass herd existence. Traipsing through everyday life like robots or …zombies. Most people go with the flow, never make waves, and try to cope with their miserable lives by rewarding themselves with worthless material objects. They gratify their most primal and basic need: consumption. Not such necessities as food or shelter, but a more learned, a more accepted behavior; gorging or greed. There is also a severe penalty when succumbing to the art of greed. Our heroes fall prey to this monster and lose it all. They forfeit everything they have worked so diligently for, and for what, material possessions and a monetary currency, which has a null value. But they had it all and lost it all, just to try and accumulate more of which they do not require to survive. For most, enough is never enough, and that enough, is always a relative number.

As you can see, there are so many ways in which to consume this opus, and since I'm not writing a book for Alan, I unfortunately cannot divulge any deeper than what has been said. If you haven't seen this film, what's the problem? If you didn't like this film, you need to delve deeper. For all, the Argento cut is very important and puts a different spin on some things and contains many alterations when compared to Romero's cut of the film.

I don't want to spoil all the changes, so I will just give a brief description of how this differs from the previous. The film is cut tighter and moves at a more rapid pace. This version also contains a more desolate outlook on the entire situation. The score is the complete Goblin score as well. Furthermore, a good twenty-five minutes are deleted, and nine new minutes are added. Some for the good, some for the worse. In any event, these two versions present vastly different sub plots and should both be appreciated as separate entities entirely. It is worth noting that neither version contains the original suicide ending (IT WAS SHOT!), nut I have a feeling we will see it on a future version after all. Enough of the rants, how's the disc?


First, lets clear up some confusion. This movie was originally conceived to contain a full frame aspect ratio. All this talk of being 1.66:1 is nonsense. When you watch the 1.33:1 effort and compare it to the 1.66:1 version you will see that you miss picture information in the latter. The film was matted for theatrical presentation and it just stuck over the past twenty years. In my opinion, this is the rare occurrence in which I prefer full frame to widescreen. The film takes on a much more serious look to it and aids in helping you feel like what you are experiencing is real. I also note that some people choose the matted presentation and I can understand why. It all comes down to preference my friends, but if you want to view it as it was originally conceived, 1.33:1 is the way to go. Now with that out of the way, this version is displayed correctly in full frame. This picture is full of nicks and blemishes almost the entire way through. Why am I not freaking out, two reasons. First, with the above aside, the picture is very sharp. Sure, there is some pixelation and the dark scenes have zero contrast, but this cut of the film is a rarity. It has obviously not been preserved properly and is in need of a major facelift. Until Anchor Bay sees fit to grace us with its super edition, this is the apex of this films picture quality. Secondly, when compared to the new Dutch Region 2 double disc set release, this Japanese version is miles above it. The Dutch version has all the same problems, and new ones to boot. The picture is incredibly soft and no detail exists whatsoever. There is no contest here (with the exception of supplemental material on the Dutch version), as everyone should want the best available picture quality. Do not be frightened by the complaints above, as they do not take away from the film at all. Although it's far from perfect, this is the best choice when wanting to watch the European cut of this masterwork.


Like the previous efforts from Beam Entertainment, we get a DD 2.0 English track with Japanese subtitles. The audio does the job in a well rounded manner; avoiding the tinny harsh edge and giving you a decent bodied sound track. There were a few instances in which the dialogue was too low, but I believe this is the best this alternate cut will sound until the definitive Anchor Bay version surfaces sometime next year.


Sadly, with all the available supplements within reach, all we get here is a trailer. It's a cool trailer used for the Italian cut which defines its faster pace and quicker cuts made in this version. The trailer is two or three minutes long and is abysmal shape showing print damage and deterioration. After the initial disappointment though, we move on and recompose ourselves and remember we got the goods in the right places. This is the only facet of the disc which truly lacked and therefore gets the lowest grade.


What's left to say here? This is the absolute greatest film ever conceived. Not the best horror film, more to the likings of the best film in general. There are so many ways you can read this film and there are always little tidbits you miss here and there that can be absorbed during the next viewing pursued. For $55, this is a steal. Case closed. End of story. This alternate cut makes a hell of a difference, and while I'll stick to preferring Romero's directors cut, this almost feels like an entirely new film and is certainly able to stand on its own merits. Don't wait, get this disc now!






Review by Dolph Chiarino

Directed by George Romero
Released by Beam Entertainment
Region '2' NTSC
Ratio - 1.33:1
Audio - Dolby Digital 2.0 (English)
Running time : approx 119 mins
Extras :