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THE DEFINITIVE DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Roy Frumkes

Starring:
George A. Romero
Tom Savini
Roy Frumkes

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
In a product way ahead of its time, this documentary follows George Romero around during the filming of Dawn of the Dead to discuss his style. Originally released over 20 years ago, this new "definitive" version has some extra footage added from Romero's later films like Land and Diary of the Dead, and Two Evil Eyes.
Is it good movie?
I'm actually pretty surprised being the huge horror nerd I am that I've never even heard of, let alone seen, this flick. Interestingly enough, this came about as a project from film teacher Roy Frumkes. It was designed to show his students how to properly create a documentary. This is why this documentary is really pretty dry when you're watching the original bits of it from 1978- this is a technically shot bit that features the study of making the film, rather than much fun stuff going on with the people involved with its creation.

Don't get me wrong, it's still cool to see some of the actors from the film trying to tell detailed stories while they've covered in makeup, but again this is somewhat technical. In fact, the whole experience can be even more than dry.. it's just downright dull at times and doesn't really give any true meat. There's lots of detail about framing shots and the way the film is editing and other tidbits about filmmaking with neat comparisons drawn between Romero's different films, but it's still dry and dusty.

In terms of the stuff that got added, it is certainly a little lighter in tone, but ultimately it makes the documentary a bit of an uneven mess. There are a lot of personal discussions with Romero that often veer away from the films and stick more with his family and life in general. This stuff seems so arbitrarily tacked on without rhyme or reason, from parody trailers to stop-motion clay stuff to porn adaptations, things just seem to be thrown in.

As a straight up documentary, this is a real mess. It's goes from tight to incredibly loose and is just all over the place with no focus. As three separate pieces (early/middle/now) it's not so bad, but together it's pretty messy. If you're looking for lots of zombie insight, look elsewhere.
Video / Audio
The video source and quality varies quite a bit over the years, and isn't pretty.

Audio comes in Dolby 2.0 and is again, pretty sub-standard.
The Extras
The only extra is a commentary track with the director (and writer, and producer) Roy Frumkes. This is really actually quite interesting, honest and revealing, as the guy is really quite intelligent and well spoken- even he admits the added footage is a little disjointed and messy.
Last Call
I'm torn about this. I likely won't watch it again, so that's fairly damning I suppose. With that said, there are lots of tips and tricks about filmmaking to be gleaned from one of Horror's greatest contributors, but the whole package is mishmash and not exactly well put together. This is a neat thing for horror fans to have, but just don't get super excited about it, as it might wind up letting you down.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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