No matter where you look on the Internet, the world premiere date of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead has always been identified as taking place on July 3, 1985. Turns out there was an earlier screening, and we have the proof!
Fan and DC reader David Brudie just checked-in with the following:
“Everyone mistakenly thinks that July 3, 1985, was the first showing to the public, but it wasn’t,” Brudie tells us. “I know this because I was at the world premiere of Day of the Dead on June 30, 1985, in Hicksville, Long Island. A radio station, WBAB, was doing a promotion for the film in April-May and telling listeners to be at a certain mall on a specific day to get a free ticket to the world premiere.”
“It only just dawned on me as I was needing to look up release dates in the U.S. for Day when I noticed that no one goes any further back than July 3rd (which was a limited engagement). The ticket I have predates that misconception by a few days. It was a one-night only premiere and was orchestrated by United Film Distribution Company themselves, as they were headquartered in Great Neck, New York, at that time not very far from where the event was held.”
Brudie goes on, “I believe the mall that I went to for the ticket was the Westfield – South Shore Mall, located on Sunrise Highway in Bayshore, Long Island. The specific area that the radio station gave the tickets away from was at The Music Store. A member of the WBAB radio staff showed up with a zombie on a leash, who was the one that actually handed me the tickets.”
“On the night of the World Premiere, June 30, 1985, I showed up at the UA Hicksville theater (on East Marie Street) dressed and made up as a zombie. If you look at the ticket, you will notice on the right-hand side that it says if you came as a zombie, the ticket would have a special meaning. I found out that I needed to go to a local bar down the street, after the movie, and collect my free Day of the Dead jacket.”
“Although the jacket is rather generic because I don’t believe it was created specifically for the world premiere, but more as a promotional item they intended to use for other theaters later on. I have attached a photo of the jacket along with the ticket, both front and back views. A funny side note about the jacket… Because I wasn’t quite of age to go into the bar after a jacket, my stepfather went in for me. They originally didn’t want to give him one because he wasn’t made up like a zombie, but after explaining that I was waiting outside, they agreed to give it to him; of course he had to purchase a drink first.”
“Although I have been involved with numerous online horror movie sites and Facebook pages, I have never met anyone who had another one of these tickets. In fact, I wouldn’t have had one either if I didn’t ask for a second ticket at the mall that day, which they reluctantly gave me. The theater kept the ticket I used to get in. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am to have been at the very first public showing of this film, as I have been a fan of all things horror for a very long time. Being able to break this news to Dread Central after discovering that no one in the world (based on all the research I did last week) has ever given reference to this world premiere is exciting.”
And we are happy and honored that you chose us to share this with! Check out all the eye candy below. It’s okay to be jealous. I know we are. Congrats, Dave! Good on you!