DVD Review “The Definitive Document Of The Dead”

Actors: George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Roy Frumkes
Directors: Roy Frumkes
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Synapse Films
DVD Release Date: November 13, 2012
Run Time: 102 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When “The Document of the Dead” was first released in 1985, the documentary by filmmaker Roy Frumkes focused purely on the production of the 1978 film “Dawn of the Dead”. “The Definitive Document Of The Dead” expands more on Romero’s career including work on “Land of the Dead”, “Diary of the Dead” and “Survival of the Dead”. There is a disclaimer in the beginning stating that this film was film over 32 years and the film’s vision has changed over the years. Fans of “Dawn of the Dead” and Romero should already known about this film and respect that Roy Frumkes is a life-long fan of his work. The film as a documentary isn’t Shakespeare but I feel that it does give Romero the credit that he deserves and never seems to get. Synapse Film released a DVD of this film going back almost 15 years now. So this is a welcomed revisit and packaged with a new “Definitive” cut. Also if you are a mega-big fan of this film, there is an Exclusive Limited Edition Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack limited to just over 1,000 copies on the Synapse Website. So that would be the ticket for hardcore fans, if it is even still available at the time of writing this.

“The Document Of The Dead” primary focus is “Dawn of the Dead” and it covers everything from pre-production, production and post-production. Frumkes was there shooting during the production and includes some very intimate interviews with Romero, (producer) Richard Rubinstein, special effects artist/actor/stuntman Tom Savivi, as well as several cast and crew members. I also liked how the film comes around through time and we get to see Frumkes and Romero reunited and reflecting on the film over time specifically during a segment on “Two Evil Eyes”, which showcased on a detailed special effects segment. The new interviews included in this are also a real treat.  Being a horror fan myself “Dawn of the Dead” is so iconic and this is a perfect companion piece to the film itself. This “Defintive” cut really dives further into his career and the film/series over the years…especially with spin-off like “Night of the Giving Head”. Trust me if your a guy, you need to watch this!

Official Premise: “George A. Romero, director of the original Night of the Living Dead, is one of the horror genre’s most celebrated filmmakers. Roy Frumkes amazing 1978 documentary Document Of The Dead was an intimate look at Romero’s creative process, with an outstanding collection of interviews, effects demonstrations (courtesy of make-up artist, Tom Savini) and behind-the-scenes footage from the classic horror film, Dawn of the Dead. This newly re-edited and re-mastered 2012 version of the award-winning documentary contains all-new exclusive material including additional interviews with Romero’s family and friends, candid on-set footage from Two Evil Eyes, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead and Many More Surprises! the Definitive Document of the Dead is a loving portrait of a horror legend, and a must-see for any hardcore horror fan!”

The DVD special features are a little bit of a let down since it is missing quite a bit of extras from the previous release. The only extra included on this release is an all-new 2012 audio commentary track with Roy Frumkes. It is fantastic to get a chance to hear a new perspective on the film from the director. I would have also like to had the previous audio commentary with director Frumkes, cinematographer Reeves Lehmann, and narrator Nicole Potter included as well, as well as the twenty minute interview segment from “Two Evil Eyes” with Adrienne Barbeau, George Romero, and Tom Savini. Still though if you already own “The Document of the Dead” DVD you have that already. This is the “Definitive” release with a longer cut doc and a new commentary, so it is all worth it in that sense.