History 16

April 3, 1980
Australian theatrical release through United Artists (who also distribute the film in Latin American territories). In Melbourne, the movie is mainly shown at local drive-ins, originally playing in just one “proper” indoor theater.

Summer 1980
George Romero’s new film Knightriders, a romanticized action drama revolving around a troupe of motorcyclists travelling the land to perform medieval-themed stunt shows for rural audiences, is shot at several Pennsylvania locations. The list of actors appearing in Knightriders reads like a veritable Dawn of the Dead cast reunion: In addition to Tom Savini and Christine Forrest appearing in prominent supporting roles, other alumni include Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, John Amplas, Jim Baffico, Joe Pilato, Marty Schiff, Taso Stavrakis, David Early, Warner Shook, Molly McCloskey, Tommy Lafitte, Joe Shelby, Sharon Ceccatti, Clayton Hill, Nick Tallo, Randy Kovitz, Jeannie Jefferies, Donald Rubinstein, and Larry Vaira. The film, however, will turn out a severe box office failure, proving a major financial setback for UFDC, and will remain Romero’s last work outside the horror genre to this very day.

“UFA/Büscher Film” in West Germany issue what is the very first worldwide “home media” release of Dawn of the Dead; a condensed 8mm edit of the German theatrical version that is spread over three individually sold reels and clocks in at a total running time of around 45 minutes. Amazingly, most of the gore scenes remain intact.
See the UFA 8mm version here

Fall 1980
Since the beginning of this year, Dawn of the Dead has by now seen further worldwide theatrical releases in Denmark, Portugal, Canada, Brazil, and the Netherlands. In the Canadian regions of Ontario and Manitoba, where it is rated “18+”, no less than 13 minutes are cut out of the picture, causing outraged patrons to write wrathful letters to local newspapers and loudly boo the censors’ “work” in theaters.

October 16, 1980
Dawn of the Dead is shown on Japanese prime time television by Tokyo Broadcasting Systems (TBS), preceded by a two-minute “explanatory” introduction by movie critic Tetsuya Fukazawa. With all violence cut out entirely, this TV version (re-titled Zombie – Earth SOS Dead Rising) features new Japanese dubbing that has much of the original dialogue completely changed, replaces the original score with tracks from Yes’ Tales from Topographic Oceans and Jean Michel Jarre’s Equinoxe albums (as well as incorporating four of Goblin’s themes for Suspiria), and – to add insult to injury – credits Dario Argento as the film’s director. The TBS edit will never be aired again, and is only circulated via private video trading during the 1980s.
See the Japanese Intro here