History 19

July 3, 1985
Limited theatrical U.S. release of the third instalment in George Romero’s original zombie trilogy, Day of the Dead. The film’s box office business suffers greatly from both poor distribution on UFDC’s part and the strong competition of a simultaneously released zombie comedy written and directed by Dan O’Bannon, The Return of the Living Dead, which turns out a surprise hit and is favored over Day by movie audiences and critics alike. In addition to marking Romero’s final collaboration with Richard Rubinstein and Michael Gornick prior to him leaving Laurel altogether, Day of the Dead also remains the director’s last foray into zombie territory for the next two decades; a period that will see his career seriously stalling.

August 1989
Roy Frumkes’ Document of the Dead is released on home video in the U.S. by Studio Entertainment/Off Hollywood, adding a new epilogue compiled from footage taken on the set of the ill-fated Romero/Argento collaboration Two Evil Eyes. A limited, hand-numbered edition of the VHS that comes in a “gold” outer slipcase and is personally signed by George Romero retails at a hefty $150. Over the next two decades, Document will eventually be reissued in different versions on Laserdisc, DVD and BluRay.

December 21, 1990
Dawn publicist Renee Furst passes away aged 62.


August 14, 1991
As per an official order issued by the local court of Bochum, Germany, all openly circulating “Marketing Film” copies as well as the original master tapes of “the video feature film ‘Zombie’” are to be withdrawn from the domestic market completely, and no longer allowed to be sold, rented out or otherwise made accessible. In short, the film is now verboten. To this day, both Romero and Argento’s original, uncut versions – or in fact any version depicting just the smallest drop of blood for that matter – remain officially banned in Germany; the only “legal” release being a heavily cut DVD of what basically is a fan-made, overlong, and decidedly unofficial edit called “Ultimate Final Cut” that, after having all violent scenes removed, passes with an “FSK 16” label in late 2001.

January 1994
Japanese company “Fewture Models” release the first officially licensed Dawn of the Dead toy; a fixed-pose resin kit depicting comical likenesses of Tom Savini’s “Blades” biker character, his “machete zombie” victim, and the airfield “baldhead” zombie. A scheduled second kit of Roger, Peter, Stephen and Fran is prototyped, but never produced due to poor sales of the original one.