History 13

Mid-June 1979
Dawn of the Dead is entered into drive-in circulation in upstate New York, where it ends up playing in double bills with films like What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? and Meat Cleaver Massacre.

June 18, 1979
Newsweek magazine runs a lengthy cover story on “Hollywood’s Scary Summer” that focuses on the slew of horror films released during that period which, in addition to Dawn, include Phantasm, The Amityville Horror, Alien, Nightwing, and The Prophecy.

June 26 – 29, 1979
German distributors Neue Constantin Film run a series of special advance previews of Zombie (as Dawn will be called in Germany) for domestic film exhibitors at select cinemas in four major cities (Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Düsseldorf). A half-page print advert announcing the shows in the local trade press states, “Following the screening, we will have a shot of clear spirit ready for you. You are going to need it!”

Neue Constantin Film president Bernd Eichinger flanked by visibly excited patrons of a German ‘trade show’ advance screening of the film in Munich, June 1979.

July 3, 1979
George Romero appears as a guest on Tom Snyder’s The Tomorrow Show alongside fellow genre director Don Coscarelli, whose recently released Phantasm has in fact managed to out-gross Dawn of the Dead in some American markets. While the two are discussing the topic of horror movies, clips from both films are shown.

July 1979
Target International Pictures are making a second attempt at getting Dawn of the Dead rated for domestic theatrical release in the U.K., this time submitting George Romero’s original 127-minute cut to the BBFC. While still expressing a strong dislike for the film, censor James Ferman can now at least see some of its more “satirical” elements (which of course have gone lost almost entirely in Argento’s darker and more straightforward edit). After Romero himself gets involved, an agreement is finally reached with the BBFC, although close to three minutes worth of footage ultimately still have to be cut in order for Dawn to qualify for an “X” rating; resulting in the movie’s most famous and memorable gore moments either completely removed or significantly shortened.