In 1978, Roy Frumkes documented the making of "Dawn of the Dead", with an extra focus on director George A. Romero. Now, in 2012 we get a new, upgraded cut of the documentary, featuring behind-the-scenes footage from not only "Dawn of the Dead", but also from "Two Evil Eyes", "Land of the Dead", "Diary of the Dead" and "Survival of the Dead".
As any sane horror movie fan, I'm greatly appreciative of what George A. Romero and the team did for zombies with "Night of the Living Dead". It changed the genre and yadda-yadda. Great piece of work, really. "Dawn of the Dead" is often seen as the superior, but I am not cut of that cloth. It's a great zombie movie - zombie drama, even. But it's not my favorite of the series. I actually can't decide which is better, that or "Day of the Dead". Either way, "Dawn of the Dead" is still an interesting production and that's what excited me the most about this documentary. As it was originally made during and about the production of "Dawn of the Dead", and only now is upgraded with the similar treatment done to later Romero titles. This documentary focuses on the director's time through the process of making these movies, and in later films it especially focuses on certain bits of each movie simply because Roy Frumkes couldn't be there for the entire set.
There are two distinctive parts of "The Definitive Document of the Dead". The first one is the making of "Dawn of the Dead". This part is actually really exciting because it's the making of such a classic. It goes through the production fairly quick, but still manages to talk (and show us) about lighting, location, special effects, cast/crew, relationships, cinematography and Romero's way of working with it all. It's solid as a making of, especially as it's also seperated into "pre-production, "production" and "post production". What more can you ask, really? It shows a great director doing great things back in the late 70's. This part of the documentary is as good as it could be, unless it was literally an hour longer or so.
What comes after this part is far from as great, however. It throws in anything it can from later productions, and it's just tiny snippets of the entire shoots (usually just one scene). Some parts are far from interesting, and even though it's interesting in the way that we want to see the making of any movie, most of it shouldn't have been in here. The footage shot during the productions of "Two Evil Eyes" was the most interesting, as it gave a nice look into the FX world. If anything, this entire part of it should've came as an extra featurette. Or maybe if they instead did present day interviews about "Dawn of the Dead". It's hard to be critical towards a documentary, but I have to be honest here.
"The Definitive Document of the Dead" is still a worthy pickup for any fan of Romero and his productions ("Dawn of the Dead" especially). You might be reminded of what Romero used to create compared to what he creates now, which undoubtedly will leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it's also very interesting to see the parts of his earlier stuff. What he did for the genre can't be denied and, again, that makes this documentary worth checking out. Recommended for that fact, but don't expect the last half to be as interesting or that it will dive as deep into the production. I have yet to listen to the commentary by Roy Frumkes but I can imagine that will add an extra little spice for this documentary.