The Internet is an interesting place because, while the entire world’s knowledge is at all of our fingertips, it’s also a trash heap filled with incorrect information. Take the world premiere of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead for example. A quick search online reveals the first ever screening took place on July 3, 1985. Nope. Long time horror fan David Brudie wants to set the record straight and can prove it with a ticket he carries from a screening that was held on June 30, 1985, in Hicksville Long Island.
“A few weeks ago I was working on an article for a horror Facebook group and I needed to look up U.S. release information on George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead,” Brudie explained. “It seemed that something was wrong about the earliest date everyone seemed to have, which is July 3rd, 1985. I didn’t remember the world premiere being right before independence Day. You see, I was at the World Premiere days earlier, on June 30th, which was held at the UA Hicksville theater (on east Marie street) in Hicksville Long Island! Honestly, I was very surprised that no one seemed to know about this first public showing (which was one night only), and it is impossible to find any information about it, at least I was unable to find any. I always assumed that this world premiere would have been recognized by people and accounted for in release date information, but that is not the case at all.
“The premiere was put together by United Film Distribution Company themselves,” he continues, “and at that time they were headquartered in Great Neck, Long Island. Not very far from where the premiere took place.
“Between April and May (1985) a popular radio station of the time, WBAB, was running a promotion for Romero’s new “Dead” film and offering listeners the chance to get free tickets to the world premiere on the condition that you be present at the South Shore Mall (on Sunrise Hwy. in Bayshore Long Island) on a certain date and time. People were told to meet in the music store that was inside the mall. The dozen or so people there waiting were finally greeted by a WBAB employee who brought along a zombie that was attached to a leash. The zombie gave out the tickets to us, and although you were only supposed to get one ticket each, I asked for a second to give to a friend, the zombie reluctantly gave it to me. I’m actually very glad that I was able to obtain two tickets because, although I was unable to give it to my friend it allowed me to hold on to one because the theater took my ticket at the door and didn’t give it back.”
He continues: “If you look at the right side of the ticket it mentions that if you dressed as a ‘zombie’ to the event that it would have ‘special meaning’. It turned out that the special meaning came by way of a jacket you could get by going down the street to a bar and getting one. Since I wasn’t quite old enough to get into the bar my step-father went instead. People in the bar were not going to give him the jacket at first because he wasn’t dressed as a zombie, but when he explained that I was waiting outside they agreed to give him one, as long as he bought a drink first. Although the jacket is rather generic, as I don’t believe it was created specifically for this world premiere, I believe it is a significant part of the story.
“It is my position and intent that all Day of the Dead fans knows about this (apparently) forgotten world premiere, and that maybe online databases and such will want to add this event to their information concerning release, for reasons of accuracy. I’m happy to share this with you all and contributing to Day of the Dead’s history.” – David Brudie