Frankly, The Definitive Document of the Dead is not a particularly cohesive experience. Not to slight the material that Frumkes has assembled over more than 30 years, which is frequently very entertaining and will be fun to see for Romero fans, but the film had clear purpose and subject in being about Dawn of the Dead. Most of the Document of the Dead footage is presented here intact, rather than completely re-edited to clarify the altered focus of the Definitive version.
Document, true to its name, was originally almost intended as an educational film; Frumkes was a film teacher and the idea was to use the finished film to help teach his students how to make a film. That slightly sterile nature remains in the original 1978 footage, emphasizing technical information, techniques, motifs, and mechanics of organizing and juggling the film and its demands. There's not much about the atmosphere of the set or footage of the cast and crew goofing off, and any discussion of Romero's other works is not historical but solely to help define him as a filmmaker.
When the movie jumps to the set of Two Evil Eyes, Frumkes has to seem even less of a plan. Definitive Document spends quite a long time on the shooting of a single effect from the film, without really enhancing or describing the explanation of Romero's style from before. The one advance in this segment is that the interviews get a little more personal, particularly Christine Romero talking about her role and whether she thought she was going to get it. Other material in this segment involves the training of monkeys.
Finally, the film jumps to present day, picking up a loose, friendlier style that feels like a homecoming, and sort of a tradition. One of the clever things Frumkes does is repeat some of the same visual cues, like he and Romero walking and talking. However, the focus of the footage gets even more vague, with Frumkes asking Romero about tangentially related topics, like his opinion of Shaun of the Dead and other knock-offs (footage from what I'm presuming is a porn film appears), and seemingly random snippets from the Land and Diary sets. At almost the last minute, Frumkes jumps on a topic that could easily have been pulled from the footage he had at his disposal: the story of George Romero the man, found in Romero's daughter Tina telling a hilarious, wonderful Christmas story. But it's too little, too late -- either Frumkes needed to rebuild his film from the ground up to incorporate the movie's new focus, or left it as three different pieces from three distinctly different eras.
The Video and Audio