Dawn of the Dead: The Extended Mall Hours Cut (1978)
In the last few years I’ve become acquainted with the concept of fan edits. Fan edit are versions of a film that has been modified by a viewer. This involves the removal, reordering, or the addition of new material to create a new interpretation of the film. Fan edits include the removal of scenes or dialogue, replacement of audio and visual elements, as well as adding material from sources such as deleted scenes or even other films. Due to the easy access to pro-quality software and high definition source material, such editions are often very professionally realised. Naturally fan edits often fall foul of copyright law.
I was introduced to this sub-genre when I was tipped off about an extended version of George A. Romero's classic Zombie movie Dawn of the Dead. After a little investigation on the internet I discovered Dawn of the Dead: The Extended Mall Hours Cut. This fan edit produced by the intriguingly named Officially Unofficial, uses the 139 minute Cannes Cut of the film and the 117 minute Dario Argento version. Effectively this is the closest approximation of Romero’s original rough cut of the movie and clocks in at a total running time of 155 minutes.
There is quite a lot of extra footage in this fan edit. As well as miscellaneous scenes of violence in the mall sequences, there are various dialogue extensions which enhance the narrative and give more weight to the story. When the bikers arrive at the movies finale, there is an expanded scene where we see them planning their “attack strategy”. There also some extended dialogue between Peter and Stephen after they return from “shopping” the first time. The pair argue over how they would deal with Fran if she was ever bitten. It is a very different version of the film with a more depressing tone to the theatrical cut. The new material is integrated into this edit seamlessly.
Dawn of the Dead is a genre milestone and there is no need to review the films merits here as they’re clearly established. This fan edit does add an interesting new aspect to the movies pedigree, offering a slightly more human perspective to the narrative. There’s a subtle shift in tone which implies a sense of futility to the lead characters fight for survival. I would be most curious to learn what George A. Romero himself thought of this edit, if he were ever to see it.