These days, Romero's apocalyptic zombie flick is one of the most important horror movies of film history. Whether the audience or the critics - eben after 30 years Dawn Of The Dead hasn't lost any of its fascination. In 1978, it took the entire film world by storm. It made 55 million USD (inflation-adjusted 1020: 179 million USD) at box offices worldwide (production costs 500,000 USD). In 1983, when it was released on VHS, 750,000 copies were sold only in the US. A lot of international re-releases followed, generations of filmmakers were influenced by "Dawn Of The Dead", innumerous copycats wanted a slice of the pie. "Dawn Of The Dead" didn't just found the modern zombie genre, the modern zombie genre is still being defined by it.
I. a) Production
The idea to the movie arose in the early 70s, when George A. Romero and some of his friends went to the Monroeville Mall, one of the tremendous malls that really changed society in the late 60s. When George became aware of the fact that the Monroeville-Mall could even give shelter in a nuclear war (remember: we are in the middle of the cold War), people came up with the idea to use the mall as perfect shelter in a case of zombie apocalypse. He was looking for a new plot to do a sequel of his surprise hit "Night Of The Living Dead". Looks like he finally found it here in Pittsburgh. His friends, associates of Monroeville Mall, were really keen on his idea and supported him - but Romero, who had come up with some financial desasters before, couldn't find the budget he needed to let the apocalypse he had in mind come true. With detours, Dario Argento his screenplay and he really liked it. He took a share and invested 250,000 USD in the project (which means he paid half of the production costs) - on the condition that he was allowed to edit his own version in all non-English-speaking countries. Romero knew that it was his only chance to get the budget he needed and agreed - though he sold one of the most important parts in the process of filmmaking (at least for some parts of the world). Argento respected and trusted Romero and didn't interfere in the shooting process, which was almost unproblematic - despite the hard shooting conditions. The shooting took more than four months and even today anyone involved calls the shooting legendary.
No one made a lot of money with the movie, but all of them realized its potential pretty early. It was the breakthrough for the former war photographer Ton Savini - and new jobs for many movies which are considered classics these days (e.g. "Friday The 13th"). From the actors, only Ken Foree was able to establish himself. But I must say that Gaylen Ross spent almost the rest of her career behind the camera or on stage. For Romero, "Dawn Of The Dead" was the final breakthrough as visionary horror director - even though he never reached that level again in his entire career - and created with "Dawn Of The Dead", which is also in the Museum Of Modern Art in New York btw, his own monument.
I. b) Screenplay
Usually, I abandon myself to extravagant analyses and descriptions of the original screenplay versions because I think it's one of the most interestint part of the entire process. The author - in the best case also the director and/or the producer - can convert his visions to reality. There are no restrictions because of time or production schedules or in budget. That is why many movies seems really different when one reads the first screenplay versions. This usually counts for Romero's movies as well - escpecially for his third zombie masterpiece "Day Of The Dead" (which would have become a zombie epos in its original version). For some reason, none of that happened with "Dawn Of The Dead". George A. Romero had a clear vision very early, he wrote most of the stuff at Dario Argento's in Italy. In less than 3 weeks the script was finished and it's very similar to the end result. The script was enormous with almost 200 pages. That was because Romero didn't have the time or money for elaborate storyboards. But there still is a difference. Besided smaller, more or less trivial details (slighty different order of the scenes or dialogs), it's escpecially the end that is quite different. In the original script, it was more sinister and violent.
In the original end, Peter was supposed to put a bullet in his head and pregnant Fran wouldn't have left by chopper but she would have killed herself by putting her head in the rotor blades. Her dead (pregnant) body would have fallen on the ground and slowly eaten by zombies. Contrary to many statements, this end has never been shot - although Tom Savini made some tests shots for it (right screen)...
...and Gaylen Ross’ dummy was produced yet (and yes, that's exactly what the left screen shows - after it got black hair and a fake beard - that's how one of the most shocking scenes arose, the exploding head, which originally wasn't planned this way). Even Argento considered the end to hard - although he edited a much more sinister and action orientated version. He insisted the end was going to be changed - that Peter and Fran could escape in an unknown future, but they could escape.
Apart from that, the screenplay is very similar to the final cut. His original idea was only mentioned in some interviews, but he didn't come up with a lot of details, so that there's no way to reconstruct it pretty well. That's anything what can be said: originally, only two people were supposed to live on the top floor of the supermarket - like cave dwellers (metaphorically spoken). The man would have gone down to the supermarket to get food, because he's the hunter - so to speak. This concept seems to be pretty interesting but Romero gave it up pretty fast because he said for himself it was too sinister, violent, pessimistic and dark.
I. c) Story
State of emergency in the US: the bodies of recently deceased people come back to life. There's no one who can explain, only one thing is for sure: if there's no action soon, it could be the doom of mankind because the undead only want one thing: human flesh.
In that chaos, TV editor Fran, her boyfriend and pilot Stephen and the two cops Peter and Roger decide to flee from that hell and try to find a calm and quiet place to live far away. They don't have a particular destination, they just want to leave civilisation because it's going to break down. Accidentally, they land on the roof of a mall and decide to stay there for a while spontaneously because they have anything they need there: clothes, food and they are safe there - somehow. The few zombies, that made it inside, get killed easily. The perfect place to sit out the apocalypse.
But the apocalypse finds them faster as they wish. Roger gets bitten during his attempt to secure the building - his death warrant. And her most terrible enemies are waiting outside: humans who want a peace of the alleged paradise of comsumption.
I. d) Worldwide rating and censorship
In countries like Italy, the movie was released uncut and any 14-year-old (or older of course) was allowed to watch it. The same in Sweden with 15 and 16 in the Netherlands. Ditto for France (where 16 is the highest rating a movie can get - anything else is equal to a ban). The lowest rating ever can be found in the Canadian boondocks in Quebec where even 13-year-olds are allowed to watch it. Sbhort time afterwards, the movie got the same rating in Argentina when it was re-rated. Only in Finland, Norway and Germany, the movie was banned. This has changed in the meantime. Well, at least it has in Norway where 15-year-olds can watch the dead coming back now, too.
In the UK, where Argento had the pleasure to release it btw, the BBFC demanded many cuts for the BBFC 18. That was absolutely unacceptable for Argento of course. Romero suggested to let his longer, different version being looked at by the BBFC - and he got the BBFC 18 with only a few changed made. For some reason, many scenes considered inappropiate in Argento's version, could remain unchanged in Romero's Version. The BBFC explained that with the funnier and more dramatic fundamental tone in his version - the Argento Cut focussed too much on the action elements. Fun fact: in the UK, the movie was called "Zombies" at first. Later, the name was replaced by Romero's original title "Dawn Of The Dead".
In the US, the movie had problems with the MPAA only in the beginning. Anyway, the MPAA intend to give it the infamous X-Rating - which would make the movie equal to porn and which would be the financial death because no advertisement would be permitted. There's no way the movie would have made as much as it cost only with public performances in theaters for adult movies. That's why "Dawn Of The Dead" was released without any rating. The advantage: it could also run in regular theaters because there was absolutely no porn in it. The catch: no advertisement was allowed. Romero took the chance - the ad campaing was reduced to a discription of an ominous shocker. So shocking that even mentioning the title was problematic. The campain and the consequentional buzz marketing finally worked - the movie made 1.7 million USD only in New York in the first two weeks. So Romero proofed that Independant movie without support of the MPAA and the studios can be successful. Years later, Romero had the intention to do a double feature with "Dawn Of The Dead" (it already became a cult movie in the meantime) and "Creepshow" and bring it back in the theaters. To do that, he needed a new rating (and version). He got an R but fans didn't like that version. Only after a short period, that particular version vanished and has never been seen again.
The chaos with the versions of "Dawn Of The Dead" is almost traditional. As already mentioned before, Dario Argento and George A. Romero made a deal which said Argento was allowed to edit his own version in all non-English-speaking countries (except South and Central America) and Romero's version especially for all English-speaking coutries like USA, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Both versions are significantly different and that's what the following comparison is about.
Based on the two different original versions - the only ones which were in the movie theaters - new versions were edited in several countries. Many of them were edited due to censorship, but the particular publishers also removed or added some plot scenes. The fact that some masters were responsable for further differences while creating the version for a particular country made the mess perfect. As a result of that, not only three official versions (Argento Cut, Romero Cut and Director's Cut) exist but also many many so-called international versions. Mentioning all of them would be pointless, that's why it's been reduced to the most important versions (which don't necessarily contain less footage than the original versions btw).
The third mentioned issue is the so-called Director’s Cut. Due to the fact that this version is widely spread, it's considered a further offical version even though Romero himself doesn't like this version pretty much. It was edited in the course of a "Special Edition" wave in the 90s and released on LaserDisc. First in the US, later on in Japan and UK as well. It's one of the most common versions in English-speaking countries, especially in the US and UK, but it shouldn't be considered the ultimate Director's Cut because the director prefers his old version (Romero-Cut).
II. a) ...based on the Argento-Cut (Euro-Version)
The Argento-Cut with a running time of 116 min. is the most common version in Europe because it's the official version in any European country apart from UK. Fun fact: the German Theatrical Version was cut. The first uncut release in Germany is from 1999.
Another variation of the Argento-Cut are the Japanese Theatrical Version and the TV Version. For theaters, a black text box was added just at the beginning. That text box tries to explain the zombie epidemic by talking about a mysterious meteorite impact (probably a brilliant dig at Romero's "Night Of The Living Dead"). In opposite to that, the TV Version is much shorter - the entire violence has been replaced by a freeze frame of the mentioned scene. Furthermore the movie was dubbed for the Japanese TV for the first time. The text box from the beginning was gone but a scientist has the pleasure to explain the origin of the zombies at TV instead. The Goblin score was replaced by the score from Argento's "Suspiria" (at least the score was composed by Goblin as well).
For German fans, the Super-8 version might be quite interesting. Split up on three reels, Romero's apocalypse is being presented in less than 48 min. - some violence included.
III. b) ...based on the Romero-Cut (US Theatrical Cut)
The Romero-Cut was mainly released in North and South America. The running time is 127 min. which is approx. 10 min. more than the Argento-Cut endures. This version takes its time for character developments, the structure and dramatic results in less pace. Moreover it puts emphasis on comedy acts and is scored exessively with the well-known Library music. There are at least two interesting versions based on the Romero-Cut.
On the one hand the 4 Front-Video release in the UK which are missing in the so-called Ultimate Final Cut (a version edited by a German label with the intention to put any scene available in one version - but apparently the label failed). If these scenes are in any other version is unknown. On the other hand the already mentioned US R-Rated Version which at least contains some violence and was edited by Romero himself. One can call it an "Uncut Light Version" if necessary. Technically it could be considered a forth official version because Romero edited it.
III. c) ...based on the Director’s Cut ("Cannes-Cut")
The Director's Cut was released in the course of the Special Edition madness in the 90s. The versions was edited by Romero himself which means the name "Director's Cut" is not a marketing gag at least. Rumor has it the version is identical with the so-called "Cannes Cut" shown at the film festival in Cannes in 1978 to attract attention of international publishers. This version is supposed to be pretty rough but it contains the complete audio tracks including the final score. Whether or not the version are equal is unknown but they're always being mentioned together.
Although Romero distances hisself from his Director's Cut and favors his old Theatrical Version, the Director's Cut is often the version prefered by fans - especially in the US. Based on this version, several new versions were edited in the following years. But none of these versions is official.
For the 20th anniversary, the US label "Anchor Bay" edited a so-called "Hybrid-Cut" which contains elements from both the Romero-Cut and the Director's Cut, running time 128 min. The German label "Astro" edited a so-called "Ultimate Final Cut" in 2000. The intention was putting all footage in one single version, running time of this version is 156 min. The intention was to edit the longest version worldwide but, as already mentioned, they failed (see the 4 Front Video). Based on the Ultimate Final Cut, the label X-Rated edited a so-called "Extended Version" which is also worth being mentioned here because it's one of the longest versions worldwide but the violence was removed.
„Zombie“ or „Dawn of the Dead“? Argento- or Romero-Cut? European Version or US Theatrical Version? Right from the beginning, Romero's and Argento's unusual deal to finance the project rose the discussion which of the versions was the better one. Of course, you can't really come to a clear answer to that question. Argento and Romero both are professionals - they both are great editors who know their craft and both use it in a different way. The truth of the matter is - the fans should be happy to have the opportunity to be able to pick 2 different versions of one of the groundbreaking cult classic movies which both were edited by visionary moviemakers.
However - as usual - there is some dissent on this issue among fans. It's interesting to see that the popularity of the version divides into the different cultural circles. The countries where the Romero Cut was released in theatres (e.g. USA, Australia, Canada) prefer this one. However, most of the European fans are in favor of the Argento cut and often even think that it is the "true" version of the movie. Of course, you can't name a "definite" version - both cuts have their own specific advantages and they both are rightly praised by the fans. Therefore, you shoulnd't take this "split-up" of the fandom too seriously. It's more than obvious that the fans always favor the version of the movie which they saw for the first time - the one they grew up with and which introduced them to the "myth" of Dawn of the Dead. The first and second generation of fans watched the movie in theatres or on a VHS tape - therefore they watched the version that was released in their country. However, the third generation of fans - starting from the year 2000 - were able to watch both versions within a narrow time frame (while the old fans only knew one of these versions); therefore, there are no longer clear boundaries among the fans. They could choose between both of the official versions (three if you cound the Director's Cut), therefore it seemed more natural for them to accept both versions as official ones. However, it would be wrong to reduce the reasons for the (neverending) discussion about the versions simply to the way of publishment - after all, even though both versions are based on the same material and do not change the course of action they still are very different from each other.
Both versions fundamentally differ from each other. Not only is Romero's version longer, it also includes many comedic moments and is more atmospheric keen on showin the character development - so it really is a horror apocalypse. Argento rather wanted to make a dark and action-packed movie - it was meant to act as a smack in the face of the audience. Romero was not happy with Argento's Euro-Cut - he thought it was too fast, too serious, and too much focused on action. Argento passed on several moments which in Romero's eyes were essential scenes in view of character development - most of the monotonous ado in the mall after Roger died. The protagonists now have pretty much everything that the consumer and affluent society call "important" - stilly, they are not happy. How should they be? They live in a world, where the dead rise from the grave. Still, Romero's version goes beyond this explanation. They have everything they need and they live in a safe hideout; however, not even Fran and Stephen can live together as a couple.
This scene is especially interesting to get a closer look at Stephen's state of mind. In Romero's version we get to see that he seems to be inferior to Roger in Peter and that he wants to be just like them - a hero. An adventurer. An important person. His decision towards the end of the movie to protect the mall from the bikers all by himself has a deeper meaning: he not only protects a consumption temple - he protects his "home" that he helped building up.
You might think that he as a chopper pilot does have quite an adventurous job; however, Romero's version negates that a little bit.
Even though Romero's version of the movie is longer, it still does not include every single important scene of the movie. Actually, Argento's version even seems to be a little more "smoothly" - the cuts are more precisely and often make more sense the way he put them together. Romero stretches the plot a bit, while Argento presents a short and crisp version of the movoe. As already mentioned, Argento's version included several brutal scenes that Romero in the end did not want to have in his version. Therefore, only Argento's version includes the scene in the cellar where Roger shoots the zombies. Additionally, the sequence of the zombies eating the human flesh is shown longer. Romero often cut the violence down.
However, one of the best known (almost legendary) scenes of the movies were cut out of Argento's version (it's unknown why he didn't include it): the helicopter zombie.
Some people say that this scene has a comedic undertone - an aspect, that Argento didn't want to have in his version of the movie. Personally I think that Argento rather wanted to expedite the plot as quickly as possible to get to the main setting - the mall. There are dozens of scenes that are either only included in Romero's or Argento's version. Romero's version alone in comparison to the Argento version offers 26 minutes of "new" material - still, it misses out on roughly 10 minutes of footage that is included in Argento's version. However, the individual scenes are not the only differences between the versions.
For his version, George A. Romero used a lot of royalty-free music from the DeWolfe-Library - a collection of different compositions of all genres and eras. Still to this day, this music is called library music. These (partially) grave differences in music bring across an entirely different mood. If you listen to the audio commentary on the DVD, Romero says that he wanted to create a self-ironic, hyped-up movie that has a somewhat comic book style, then you have to admit that he really achieved his goals. Many scenes are less shocking and the gruesome reality of death, the nemesis of humanity and the apocalypse now rather is a gag - at least from the perspective of the protagonists. They live in the world of the living dead - for them, the apocalypse is just a daily routine. In Argento's version, you mostly hear the music performed by Goblin (which at some points of Romero's version is present as well). This music rather acts as a clap of thunder that downright "hammers" the shocking images into the viewers' heads. In Europe, Argento's choice of music is well-known - not so much Romero's choice of music. The Director's Cut that was released in the 90's does not include any music performed by Goblin. All the fans that do not know the original US Theatrical Version it will be a completely different experience.
To clarify the differences, I want to show you 2 scenes that - depending on the music - have a completely different impact on the audience in both versions.
The image of the versions differs as well. Romero's version is way more colorful, while Argento's cut looks more dark and pale. Again, this very much fits to the repsecitve director's style. While Romero celebrates the comic book apocalypse with intense colors, Argento relies on dark colors that underline the movie's harshness.
It's worth mentioning that Argento's version often offers a slightly different image section. However, it is not impossible that this is only the case for the version released by Anchor Bay.
This is a comparison between the Argento-Cut (also known as "Euro-Cut") and the Romero-Cut (also known as "US Theatrical Cut"). Both versions originate from the US Ultimate Edition released by Anchor Bay.
By comparison, the Argento-Cut is missing out on 1592,8 seconds (altogether a whopping 26 minutes and 32 seconds).
It has to be mentioned that the Romero-Cut is missing out on several scenes and sequences that can be seen in the Argento-Cut. Therefore, the numbers you just read do not represent the real difference in runtime.
Framecuts that last less than 0.2 seconds won't be mentioned since they (normally) are not missing purposely.
The logos of the opening credits are shown at a different spot and in a different font. However this does not result in any difference in time. This difference won't be mentioned anymore from now on.
No difference in time.
In the Argento-Cut you don't see Fran tells the director to no longer display the old rescue centers.
When some of the crewmembers leave the room, the production manager tells them to return immediately.
The production manager again tells his crew to return. When they don't react, the police officer is asked to stop them. However, he doesn't and instead also abandons his post.
Rod (killed by a headshot) falls down on Roger.
In Romero's version, Wooley curses a little longer.
After Roger shortly looked ad Rod, he goes for his weapon.
You see a police officer shooting.
Additional scenes of the action force were added to the movie.
Alternative take of the first wrangling.
Peter runs into the house - in Romero's version, that takes him a little longer.
When Peter goes toe-to-toe with Wooley, this normally takes longer.
Because of a slightly different order of scenes there's a missing shot of Peter's jump on Wooley's back.
An additional person enters the room next to Roger.
Because of an extension of the following scene the Romero-Cut clarifies that the young police officer wants to shoot but can't because he's out of ammo. In the Argento-Cut you rather get the idea that he can't do it for psychic reasons.
Peter looks down a little longer.
A complete block of scenes was taken out of the Argento-Cut: while Miguelito already wanders around in the background, Peter is still fighting with a zombie and the yougn police officer crawls away into a corner...
The zombies are shown slightly longer as they break down the door.
As Peter enters the basement, one can see Roger looking after him and cocking his gun some longer.
Romero has a soldier looking into the basement and Peter and Roger staring at the corpses.
After Roger and Peter have arrived at the heliport, there is a brief shot of looters. This is followed by another close up shot of Roger and Peter.
One can see Roger walking off and Peter getting out of the police car.
While Fran, Stephen and Peter already get on the helicopter, Roger briefly talks to the looters and warns them.
Fran is worried that the additional weight might jeopardize the venture.
A looter approaches the helicopter and asks for a cigarette.
In the dock, the looter asks his mates for cigarettes.
Romero uses an alternative shot of the helicopter lifting off.
Despite her pregnancy, the woman lights up a cigarette.
Fran and Peter talk in the helicopter.
Romero shows an additional shot of the paramedics.
Further shots of the militia.
Before the helicopter is landing for refueling, there are some short shots of the small private airport and of a zombie.
Roger opens the filler cap – this is seen longer in Romero's version.
Peter glances around some longer in the abandoned airport office.
The following shot starts slightly earlier.
Peter shoots at the door more often – and waits for a reaction.
While Peter fights the zombie kids in the airport office and Fran and Stephen escape from the barn, the unsuspecting Roger continues to refuel the helicopter. Suddenly, a zombie appears. As he ascends some crates, his skullcap gets sawn off by the rotor blades.
Stephen tries to gun down a zombie; since he is unsuccessful, Roger is helping him out.
Peter only narrowly escaped a zombie and briefly looks at the corpse.
Roger shouts for Peter who only then leaves the house. Outside he dusts himself down and then dashes off towards Stephen
On the helicopter, the four talk about the next plans.
Romero shows Fran a little longer.
Peter glances around the roof of the shopping center some longer.
After they have found the storage room, Stephen asks how they were supposed to get in. Peter grins at Roger and then breaks the window pane.
After Fran and Stephen have descended into the storage space, Stephen looks around longer.
When the group retreats to the storage space for a short break, Fran sits down next to Roger.
Peter and Roger have decided to further advance into the shopping center. Fran looks after them longer.
Peter and Roger examine the basement and happen upon the maintenance office.
Fran looks down the stairway longer.
Romero explicitly shows the escalators and the music being turned on.
Zombies tripping over the escalators.
Peter and Roger run through the upper floor longer.
Fran and Stephen hear the shots resounding from the shopping center. Stephen decides to follow Roger and Peter.
Peter tries to open the shop door. This is shown in an alternative shot.
Roger aims at the zombies.
A zombie comes waddling around the corner. Roger aims and fires. Romero has expanded this and arranged it differently. In Argento's version the zombie gets a headshot right away.
A new shot: Roger and Peter try to close the door.
Fran ask Stephen again not to leave the staircase.
Stephen leaves the staircase and goes directly to the basement.
When Roger gets his sweater, another mannequin smiles at him in the Romero version.
Roger puts his belongings onto the counter and wraps the sweater around his hip, while Peter calmly fills their shopping basket.
Another brief shot of Peter in the basement is shown.
In order to lure the zombies away from the door, Roger and Peter start making noise on the upper floor.
Another shot of zombies
Peter comments on the zombies.
Another shot of zombies running away.
The zombie that attacks Peter in the basement is introduce in two additional shots before that..
In order to heighten the tension Stephen looks around longer and only then draws his revolver.
Additional shot of Stephen trying to escape.
He is running... and running
...and running...and...trying to reload his revolver.
After Stephen has shot the zombie, he takes cover in the corner longer in the Romero version. After that he runs out of the basement and during that grabs his gun.
Stephen arrives on the upper floor and is attacked longer by a zombie. Then he sees that Peter is also being attacked by another zombie. Stephen lifts his gun to help him.
When he realizes that Peter can cope with the zombie alone he puts down his gun.
Another zombie approaches Stephen, but he manages to get out of his corner quickly. This is only slightly longer in the Romero version but still longer enough to be more than a frame-cut.
Peter tries to convince Stephen longer to simply run through the zombies.
The Hare-Krishna-zombie turns toward the door at the end of the stairs.
Another scene of Peter and Stephen on the upper floor is shown..
Roger shoots a zombie to support them.
The scene where Peter and Stephen make it to the safe shop begins earlier in the Romero version.
A zombie presses his face against the shop window – again, long enough to be more than just a frame-cut.
Again: A zombie presses his face against the shop window – again, long enough to be more than just a frame-cut.
Roger, Stephen and Peter knock against the windows to lure the zombies away from the upper floor.
In the Romero version more zombies follow the noise...
Fran, still alone in the storage-room, looks timidly down the stairs. In that moment the Hare-Krishna-zombie opens the door.
More zombies press their faces against the windows...
The Hare-Krishna-zombie staggers around...
Fran waits for the others on the stairs.
Roger, Peter und Stephen run to the elevator. Stephen has another look at the map of the department store to make sure that they will take the right one.
Fran stars into the abyss of stairs longer.
Roger and Stephen look into the shops through the ventilator shaft.
The following shot begins earlier.
Fran puts another crate in front of the door to protect herself.
Peter has the others hand him weapons via the ventilator shaft.
When the Hare-Krishna-zombie enters the storage room , Fran is desperately looking for a weapon.
Peter pushes the handcart back slightly.
Another couple of shots of Fran are shown.
In the Romero version the Hare-Krishna-zombie slaps the glow stick out of Fran’s hand. The latter falls down to the ground.
While climbing up the crates she steps onto the radio transmitter and destroys it.
Peter, Roger and Stephen return to their base.
Peter and Roger carry out the dead zombie.
Stephen consoles Fran longer.
Stephen is looking longer at the TV set.
There must be time for this: good, old Roger takes longer to pour one in.
Peter and Roger, as well as Fran and Stephen, talk about their futures in seperate rooms at the same moment in time.
Fran and Stephen talk a little longer.
Stephen flies across the trucks.
Peter and Roger start up the first two trucks. Peter catches sight of a zombie. Stephen flies with them as an escort.
Roger and Peter block an entrance gate with the first truck. Roger then switches to Peter’s truck.
Fran looks at the supermarket-parking lot – the two trucks come down.
From the roof of the shopping mall, Fran observes Roger and Peter driving back to the truck parking-long.
The following shot starts much earlier.
Stephen tries to warn Roger of approaching zombies.
A zombie with a screw driver approaches Roger’s window.
Peter looks after Roger’s helicopter.
Romero allows a zombie to excitingly approach Roger.
Peter backs the truck again, Fran and Stephen wonder at that.
Peter puts his gun away as Roger is stuck between the trucks.
Several zombies are shown.
Peter watches Fran treating Roger’s wounds longer and then leaves.
Roger and Stephen get guns from the gun store – a zombie approaches the grid at that. Peter aims at it, when Stephen notices it, he quickly loads his gun. Peter realizes you need a better gun for it, though. Both get a rifle.
Zu dieser Szene ist eine Einstellung, vom Laden des Revolvers, im Argento-Cut vorhanden. Dieser Shot wurde der Gesamtdauer abgezogen. Näheres bei den nächsten beiden Schnitten.
One shot of this scene, the one that shows the revolver getting loaded, is at hand in the Argento-cut. This shot was subtracted from the total length.
The Romero version shows Stephen quickly trying to load his revolver five frames earlier.
...and ends four frames earlier.
Same thing: Peter loads his gun, Romero lets this start 0.7 seconds earlier.
When Fran, Roger, Stephen and Peter start to clean up, an additional scene is shown.
The following shot start much earlier.
The zombie drops to the side.
Peter takes aim again.
Romero shows Peter shoving Roger out of the frame.
The zombies are shown longer.
Fran and Stephen run down the escalator.
...while Roger and Peter have to take the elevator.
After Fran has made Peter aware of the car, he askingly looks to Stephen.
Roger is angry about not having hit a zombie.
A mob of zombies walks through the shopping mall.
Fran watches a zombie whose clothing is stuck in the door. She opens the door a little and thus, lets the zombie go.
A zombie is holding on to the car, Stephen gets out his revolver.
The following shot starts earlier.
A shot of Peter was added.
The cut to the car ride inside the shopping mall is made earlier.
Fran is still sitting in front of the safety-glass window in the store when suddenly a zombie approaches and kneels down. The two look at each other for a short time.
A shot of the entrance area of the store room can be seen.
Roger, Stephen and Peter look over the railing longer, Fran leaves.
A scene was slightly lengthened, Stephen grabs the infusion – probably a simple frame cut.
A long shot was added. Peter and Stephen look at the map while Fran takes care of Roger.
Stephen, sealing the door together with Peter, looks to Fran who is suffering because of her pregnancy. That is what the Romero cut looks like, originally Stephen only got a bucket of paint.
Stephen goes back to the small construction site and shortly talks to Peter.
Peter looks at Stephen.
Additional shot of Stephen.
Fran briefly looks at Roger.
When Peter and Stephen dump the bodies, the cut to the following scene starts earlier.
An alternative shot of Roger was added.
The shot of the fridge (turned off) is a lot longer.
After Peter and Stephen took some money from the bank, they calmly walk out of it.
Stephen takes some sweets when they do a “shopping” tour through the mall.
He also takes a sausage.
Yummy, tasty nuts!
The groceries are being brought home.
Peter at the arcade.
Roger has lost and is sad, but his mood lightens when the next round begins.
Several shots of the empty mall and the zombies can be seen.
Roger is in pain, Stephen tries to calm him down and calls for fran with the narcotics.
The following shot was cut to earlier.
Peter hears Roger screaming and goes up to the apartment with a rope ladder.
Fran gives Roger some morphine while Stephen fixates him.
The following shot is cut to a lot earlier.
Fran and Stephen are watching TV. The talk show was lengthened a bit.
Roger returns to life.
Peter watches him.
The following shot was cut to earlier.
Roger looks around before he gets up, Peter is already aiming at him.
Stephen looks down longer after Roger was shot.
An additional shot of Fran can be seen.
The debate in the TV continues.
The following shot is cut to earlier.
The following shot is cut to earlier.
Fran can be seen sitting in the mall after Roger's burial.
Mannequins are set up on the ice for shooting practice.
Peter plays the waiter for Fran and Stephen. This scene starts a lot earlier.
Romero lets the two drink from their glasses.
Equal rights for all: Peter drinks something as well, in Romero's cut we see him putting it down afterwards.
Stephen wants to, but Fran doesnt. She gives the engagement rings back and he looks at her sadly. This takes longer in Romer's version.
Fran is lying on the bed longer.
Fran walks through the apartment because she is bored. In this version, we can also see her walking towards the TV and watching the static.
The shot starts earlier.
Some zombies press their faces against the glass, others stumble across the parking lot.
Another head of a puppet can be seen while Fran puts some make-up on.
Fran watches herself in the mirror when an automated message is being broadcasted in the mall.
Scenes of the boring everyday life can be seen. Stephen puts some LPs on the player while Fan is cooking. Peter is doing the only reasonable thing and drinks some alcohol. Stephen seems to agree and drinks as well when they play poker.
At the dinner. Fran tells Stephen to switch the TV off because there was nothing on it for a long time. But Stephen keeps it turned on and sits down, causing Fran to get up herself to switch it off. But to no avail, because Stephen is switching it on again.
Fran and Stephen equip the helicopter with ammunition and food for the case of a sudden flight.
An additional shot of the rockers getting their guns.
Different shots of the bikers and their bikes were added.
Peter takes off his ring and throws it on a pile of valuables; then he reloads his rifle.
Peter and Stephen run down a hallway to protect the mall against the bokers.
An additional scene of the bikers.
After the bikers bursted the doors open, you in the Romero Cut see wads of smoke rising in front of the camera.
Roger and Peter close the mall off. In the Romero Version you see additional extreme close-ups.
Zombies are gunned down.
A biker hits several zombies with a sledgehammer – Argento’s version starts this scene a little later.
In Romero’s version there are some close-up shots of the bikers.
Three zombies are gunned down.
The following shot starts earlier. It’s not clear whether or not this is just a simple framecut.
The bikers board the mall.
The bikers drive through the mall.
The following scene ends a little later.
The bikers go on driving through the mall.
A female zombie falls to the ground in an additional scene.
In Romero’s version the zombies already attack – however, they are not really successful.
The bikers rob a zombie of her jewelry – in Romero’s version she screams some more.
The zombies get clocked with dishes.
An additional scene of the looting was added.
This scene is a little longer in Romero’s version.
The bikers throw some tarts.
The bikers mock the zombies by throwing pies in their faces. One of them even steals one of the zombies‘ wallet.
Meanwhile, Steven locked himself in a store and runs off.
The following shot starts a little earlier.
After Tom Savini killed one of the zombies with his machete, he walks off a little longer.
The bikers riot some more.
There’s a power blackout in the mall. The zombies now stumble on all the floors.
On the upper floor Tom Savini and his friends battle the zombies a little longer.
Peter changes his position to be able to shoot the bikers.
The bikers head off to leave the mall.
The movie cuts to the next sequence a little earlier.
The bikers get off and Peter wants to hit at least one of them.
The following shot starts a little earlier.
Despite the fact that the zombies wander around everywhere one of the bikers still wants to take his blood pressure.
Now he at least knows his blood pressure – however, it’s no use. In Romero’s version, the scene of his death starts a little earlier.
The last bikers leave the mall.
Two additional shots of the zombies eating flesh.
In Romero’s version, Stephen flounders a little longer to get on the roof.
Peter hears Stephen’s screams and tries to reach him over the radio. Since Stephen doesn’t reply, he throws it away.
There’s an additional close-up shot of the zombies rolling in the elevator.
Stephen battles with the zombies.
Peter – who now is on the first floor – again hears Stephen’s screams. He doesn’t know what to do.
The last zombie who ties to threaten Stephen is shot in the head.
Stephen fires another shot.
A shot of the habitation’s entrance area was added.
The zombies reclaimed the mall.
Stephen stumbles out of the elevator in a long shot.
Several scenes of the zombies stumbling through the mall were added.
Stephen lurches around the corner towards the habitation.
A close up shot of Stephen.
The zombies follow Stephen through the hallway towards the hidden entrance to the habitation.
Stephen and the zombies try to blow the thin wall made of compressed wood in.
The following scene is a little longer in Romero’s Cut.
This scene starts 4 seconds earlier in Romero’s Version.
Fran can already be seen on the roof - she wants to go to the helicopter. Peter decides to stay and shortly looks at Fran when more and more zombies crowd in the habitation.
This scene is 9 seconds longer in Romero’s version.
The zombies stumble up the ladder.
Additional zombies follow.
The zombies run about the roof. Fran cries because she thinks that Peter is dead.
Additional zombies climb up.
In Romero’s Version the sun rises.
A group of zombies walk towards the helicopter.
Peter dislocates one of the zombies‘ arm.
The zombies are swept out of the way with a few karate kicks.
An awkward moment: Peter wants to whack a zombie but the latter doesn’t even want to attack him, he just wants to have his gun.
Fran is shown again just before the helicopter raises.
The following sequence starts slightly earlier.
Just before the credits roll you see some shots of the mall.
The credits roll - and they are entirely different for both versions. While Argento shows some rather traditional credits (accompanied by the music of goblin) Romero shows images of the mall accompanied by popular elevator music. These images are the background for the credits. Romero’s credits are 21.5 seconds longer.