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Dario Argento to present 4K restoration of Dawn of the Dead

08.24.2016by: Cody Hamman

Dawn of the Dead George A. Romero

Master of horror Dario Argento served as a producer on fellow master George A. Romero's 1978 film DAWN OF THE DEAD, a collaboration that resulted in one of the greatest horror movies ever made. As part of their deal, Argento was in charge of the European cut of the film, and to cater to the censors and European sensibilities he ended up cutting together a 119 minute version of the film titled ZOMBI.

At this year's Venice International Film Festival, which is set to run in the Italian city from August 31st to September 10th, Argento and DRIVE / THE NEON DEMON filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn will be on hand to present a 4K restoration of the ZOMBI cut of DAWN OF THE DEAD.

This 4K restoration was done by Koch Media in collaboration with Norton Trust and Antonello Cuomo. The screening will be held at midnight on September 2nd as part of the festival's Venice Classics series.

While DAWN OF THE DEAD is one of my favorite films, the ZOMBI cut is my least favorite version of it. I much prefer the 127 minute theatrical cut, or the 139 minute cut that premiered at Cannes, or the 156 minute fan edit that puts together all of the scenes from the other cuts, but it's good to see any version of DAWN OF THE DEAD getting some TLC and a special screening.

Argento had this to say about the event, the experience of working on DAWN, and the choices behind the European cut: 

I am particularly pleased that Zombi is being re-released after so many years.

Titanus, the distributor at the time, considered it a very strange film with too much action: the music was too extreme, they thought it would not be well received and I was a little scared myself by this terrible prophecy. I didn’t know what to do so I said: ‘Ok, let’s screen the world premiere in Turin, a city I love because that is where I filmed Deep Red; if it doesn’t do well there, we can do away with it.’ 

It was a Friday afternoon and I was rather terrified as I went to the theatre; but I remember seeing a lot of people as I walked over from the hotel and thought: so it can’t be going that bad!.. and in fact when I got there it was packed; I went in and thanked everyone for coming. 

The film was being shown after a lengthy series of mishaps in Italy: the censors made me cut out a lot of scenes, and as a result I withdrew it. They were asking me to cut far too much; I remember even thinking that the editing would no longer be comprehensible, so I made a series of small cuts, fixed it up a little, and was able to swing an emergency procedure (usually the censors take up to six months to review a film again).

When the film was finally released it was forbidden to minors under the age of 18 which, in my mind, was fairly serious, because we had conceived it for an audience of young people...

I have great memories of Zombi because it was so important for my career and for George’s as well."

Dawn of the Dead George A. Romero

Extra Tidbit: Are you a fan of DAWN OF THE DEAD?

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