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Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Cast: Taso N. Stavrakis, Taso N. Stavrakis, Scott Reiniger, more...
Director: George A. Romero, George A. Romero
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Anchor Bay
Genre: Horror, Zombies, Cannibals
Running Time: 127 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Director George A. Romero's epic sequel to his legendary Night of the Living Dead has firmly established itself as the equal of its ground-breaking predecessor. Though shot in 1978 -- ten years after the first films' release -- Dawn's story begins as if the events in Night had happened only a few months before: after shambling armies of the recently-dead take over every major city -- seeking warm human flesh for food -- the U.S. government imposes a state of martial law, sending in special National Guard units to attack and destroy zombie infestation where they find it. Two members of one such unit, Peter (Ken Foree) and Roger (Scott Reiniger) have been tasked to overthrow a nest of zombies in a Pittsburgh housing project (one of the film's most explicitly gory scenes). When the job turns ugly and Peter is forced to terminate his own berserk, racist commanding officer, the pair decide to split the outfit with the help of his friend Stephen (David Emge), a traffic pilot for WGON-TV, and the station's floor manager, Stephen's girlfriend Frances (Gaylen Ross). Together they steal the station's helicopter and head for less-populated areas, but after some narrow scrapes with flesh-hungry redneck ghouls in the country outside Harrisburg, they opt for a more secure hideout. Eventually they find the perfect solution: a massive, sprawling shopping mall. After the lengthy process of purging the building of zombies is complete, the four secure themselves snugly in the miniature city, consigned to live out their lives in a dull but cushy consumer's paradise... but the arrival of a menacing gang of nomadic bikers proves that this is not to be. With their survival instincts weakened by a mallful of toys and trinkets, the crew are again forced to face grim reality as they face both living and undead foes in a final battle. Romero's excellent, multi-layered story combines high-adventure heroics, three-dimensional characters and explicit gore (by the always masterful Tom Savini, who plays a small role as a leering biker) to excellent effect. The subtext comparing the glassy-eyed behavior patterns of the ghouls to those of American consumers is clear, but not overdone: "It's some kind of instinct," Stephen comments, observing the zombies' attraction to the mall; "This was an important place in their lives." Despite the glimmer of hope offered by the film's closing scene, the outlook for humankind is grim. Perhaps it is Frannie who best expresses Dawn's outlook for humanity: "We're not gonna make it, are we?" Several versions of this film are available on video, including a faster-paced European version edited by overseas distributor Dario Argento and a "Director's Cut" with a great deal of exposition restored (though Romero is quoted as having preferred the unrated cut released initially to U.S. theaters). The shooting script also contains a more downbeat ending, which was never filmed. ~ Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Commentary with Writer/Director George A. Romero, Special Makeup Effects Artist Tom Savini, and Assistant Director Chris Romero
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spots
  • Poster & Advertising Gallery
  • George A. Romero Bio
  • Comic Book Preview

GreenCine Member Reviews

George A. Romero's Masterpiece by dante2023 February 20, 2004 - 9:24 PM PST
8 out of 8 members found this review helpful
There is something interesting about being trapped and having nowhere to go or not knowing where to go next. That is the essence and horror of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. The characters have to deal with what they have left in a world that has become chaotic and very much unpredictable. What they only have left is self-preservation--to seek for safety and refuge away from the walking dead. The characters finally find their refuge in a shopping mall and for a while the shopping mall seemed like a perfect haven until the characters begin to feel that what they have is basically a prison in itself. The shopping mall with all its materials, money, food, and entertainment is ultimately nothing in the end.

The dead walks surrounding the shopping mall: "They're us...they remember what they use to do". There is a hidden intelligence in Dawn of the Dead. Romero is commenting on America's consumerism. As consumers, (or zombies, or sheep) we try to fill up the unconscious that hovers us like a cloud--that is boredom and emptiness; therefore, we need to fill up this emptiness and the easiest way is to buy and have materials. The materials are in itself nothing, which is what the characters ultimately find themselves in.'

Well enough of my crazy analysis and interpretation. The point is that this film rocks! This is an intelligent horror film that is serious and sometimes funny. The actors are believable and flawless when compared to other horror films. Although Dawn of the Dead is already considered a classic, as decades pass it will definitely receive more consideration and respect.

However, the remake, which is superfluous, is either made as an appreciation of a classic or for a hollywood cash bomb.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.90)
725 Votes
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