I'm not going to wax lyrical about how great a movie Dawn is, as you can find that elsewhere. I am however going to discuss the particular merits of this latest release of the film from Arrow Entertainment.
The first of the four discs is culled from the same tranfer as last year's Blu-Ray edition and is the best available DVD version of the film, but the real selling point of this set is the package of extra features. It's been some odd years since the 4-disc Ultimate Edition was released in the States, so to finally have these extras released on Region 2 is great for those few who have yet to make the jump to multiregion players. While not all of the Region 1 extras have been ported over (specifically the actors' commentary on the European cut, and Ken Foree's tour of the film's famous Monroeville Mall), there are more than enough on offer already and a few new ones to boot.
The fourth disc features Roy Frumke's essential Document Of The Dead, last available in this country on the shocking Trilogy Of The Dead set, whose only saving grace was Savini's shock on the commentary at how the exploding head had been removed from Dawn. Produced at the time Romero was making the film, Document gives a real insight into his process. At an hour and 20-odd minutes, it's a thorough affair and one of the best documentaries about moviemaking ever produced, particularly for one that predates the DVD boom by some 20 years. Exclusive to this release of Dawn are outtakes from the documentary- 7 minutes labeled as deleted scenes, and a further 20 of extended interviews with Adrienne Barbeau, Romero and Savini. In addition to previously released commentaries with either producer Richard Rubinstein or Romero, his wife and Savini, this disc also presents us with Fan Of The Dead, another hour-long documentary in which French Dawn afficionado Nicolas Garreau tours the locations used for Romero's first three Dead movies. It's cheaply made and subtitled, but no less interesting as a result.
Disc 2 features the 75-minute The Dead Will Walk, Perry Martin's superb retrospective making-of documentary. Featuring new (at least in '05 or so, anyway) interviews with all the key players, it's a great companion to Frumke's film, offering a look back on a modern classic as opposed to a detailed, contemporary documentation. This disc isn't much different from Arrow's 2005 release of Dawn.
The third disc presents Dario "Susperia" Argento's European edit of the film, featuring more dialogue and more soundtrack music from the wonderful Goblin. The vaguely-titled "Scream Greats" documentary is an hour-long feature on Tom Savini that was originally part of a video series released by Fangoria magazine. It's a great insight into his personal and professional life, and leaves you wanting there to be more documentaries about him, just so you can enjoy his company that much longer. The obligatory posters, reviews and trailers galleries round out this disc.
Finally, the packaging deserves a mention. The set is coupled with a booklet (remember those?) with an essay from a film critic from Scotland, although honestly it offers little that the documentaries and commentaries haven't already covered. He has some interesting points to make, but I'll let you sample those yourself. The case itself is presented with four choices of artwork- one original film poster, and three newer pieces, all excellent. The outer slipcase has a window cut out in front so whichever you choose is framed.
Overall, it takes it's place as the best DVD release of the movie so far, and one of the nicest sets produced in years, hopefully setting a precedent for the release of older movies on a new format.