Growing up as a young horror fan, I discovered Dawn of the Dead in those pre-internet days via a friend’s brother. I couldn’t believe what i was watching. It was gory, it was powerful, it was long and it had depth. It was a horror/political/epic/siege film. I loved it. About a decade later the super expensive special edition dvd set came out and it included document of the dead. I wanted the set solely for that dvd but I was always broke and couldn’t afford it. Now, thanks to Synapse, all us poor folks can finally see this vintage documentary, and as an added bonus, it’s been re-edited with footage from the making of Two Evil Eyes, Land of the Dead, and what would become Diary of the Dead.
In case you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a movie nerd. Not only do i watch tons of flicks but i look em all up on the IMDB and check out all the neat connections between the writers, directors, actors and I always check the trivia section. So a feature length documentary about one of the most important Horror directors to have ever lived, made for the most part during his prime, well that’s just as good as a wet dream for this guy. It’s such a pleasure getting to hear from Romero about his craft and his influences while in the midst of making his opus. We also get to see a vintage Romero commercial from his pre-NOTLD career.
The greatest part of this film is that it isn’t a self-congratulatory fluff piece meant to jerk Romero off, and you the viewer for being so hip. It’s much more verite style, with candid interviews from the man himself as well as Tom Savini, numerous producers, family members, actors and other crew. The director does a good job of taking himself out of the film and lets it focus on the subject instead. It’s amazing that the extensive footage of the production of Dawn of the Dead even exists. At the time, I’m sure Romero wasn’t much of a household name and certainly no one would have thought that the film would have been as important and enduring as it has been. Just having the right equipment to even do a behind the scenes look at that time is amazing, let alone having filmed the penultimate zombie film ever made. Amazing.
Document of the dead looks great and is a rare peak into an iconoclasts craft as he creates a film that has readily stood the test of time.