|Directed by:||George A. Romero|
|Written by:||George A. Romero|
|Cast:||David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, David Crawford|
|Studio:||United Film Distribution Company (UFDC)|
Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia SWAT team members, a traffic reporter, and his television-executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.
Dawn of the Dead is the second film of the “of the Dead” series from George A. Romero, and I would go as far as saying that it’s by far the most notable of the entire series. Though Night of the Living Dead emerged with zombies out into the horror scene, I still don’t think it did as much for the genre as a Dawn of the Dead did. Romero’s “of the Dead”‘s have always had a great sense for the time they came out in, and contain a lot of social commentary but none like that of Dawn of the Dead. The way the film is put together is immensely amazing, and it’s done so much for zombies as a whole since its release. The acting in here is none other than classic and the movie gives us some of our favorite zombie hunters of all-time, at least I know for me it does. Romero has a very special something contained in his zombie films that make them extremely fun, despite the zombies being extremely slow. Even Romero’s zombie flicks manage to creep me out from time to time, because of course the use of practical FX is more than key in the genre of horror, and Romero seems to have understood that back then. Recently with his disappointing few movies Diary, and Survival of the Dead, it was nice to revisit this classic film.
This movie did largely for zombies what many of movies have tried to do since, and that’s create a fun, slow-paced zombie film without getting too crazy and losing its touch. Dawn of the Dead is a lot more than a zombie film, and actually has a lot of commentary on the times in which it takes place. I find it really amusing that almost every decade has seen a Romero zombie film, and it seems that every one has been characteristic of its time. Dawn of the Dead created this whole zombie fantasy about being trapped in a shopping mall with zombies, and has also created this image of a zombie infestation in malls. I think zombies in malls has become a popular and much fantasized image after this film, and it shows the power it has to the zombie genre. Games like Dead Rising have tried to recreate this “zombies in the mall” experience, but no one is quite able to capture it like Romero did in this film. The atmosphere is quiet but subtly haunted by the tunes of a shopping mall radio network. The music that is used in this movie for the mall’s PA system, and the film’s score itself really add to this atmosphere and make the movie all the much better.
Even though the zombies are slow, they are wildly entertaining to watch here just like the people trapped in the mall. The way in which this story unfolds in the mall is almost priceless, and seems to be exactly the plan to follow if you’re ever trapped in a mall with zombies. The zombie plan is very well thought out and planned here, and it’s no surprise that this crew lasts as long as they do without help. People say slow zombies are fun, but that also takes some of the intensity out of a zombie film when they run as fast as humans. Yeah the survivors are more likely to get caught up by one, but that also ruins the suspense of just how they will get it. When the zombies are slow it’s really hard to tell when is going to be a bad moment or not, and it really shows that if you pay attention and stay smart you can survive. All of our characters are fairly smart or seem to be, and it’s not really until they let their guard down and think they’re untouchable that they indeed are touched. The mall comes under attack from more than zombies though, and leads to inevitably one of the greatest horror scenes of all-time. One of the survivors is ripped open and eaten alive by multiple zombies, and it’s one of the few times in film that I’ve ever been queasy from watching a movie.
Practical FX are really a key in a horror movie, and this movie without a doubt utilizes them to the best of its ability. This film is also undeniably one of the greatest zombie films of all-time, if not the greatest, and it’s due most in part to the awesome performances to go along with the great “zombie in a mall” story. Here we see the introduction of who has now become a horror legend, Ken Foree, playing Peter who is one of the two SWAT team members. Foree does a fantastic job of being the ring leader in all of the zombie mayhem, and always seem to have a plan to outsmart the enemy. Along with him though he has his “pawns” to help carry out his plans, both of whom are relatively unknown these days. I love that Foree came out of this film with such a reputation, and he really was one bad ass zombie hunter. The possibilities for survival of a zombie apocalypse in a mall are endless, and that’s truly the reason that the reasons for this movie being entertaining are endless. It adds to the experience when it’s in a mall, because it’s a very common place that all of us know, and hence is the reason the zombies are there in the first place.
Malls are fun to imagine zombies in, especially when you’re one of those who fantasizes about the zombie apocalypse and has fun thinking about what you’d do in the situation. I love this film for what it is, and it’s definitely one of the greatest pieces of horror cinema to date, let alone zombie cinema. Everything here is laid out perfectly, and this film to me is pretty much the blueprint to what zombie film should be. A lot of others actually prefer Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead to this original one by Romero, and I can see why. I still don’t believe there is any denying that Dawn of the Dead is a great film, and without a doubt had a significant impact on the genre of horror and creation of zombie film. I credit Romero entirely to success of what zombie films are, and I really hope that if he decides to do another it’s more like this classic than the recent pile he delivered us. Dawn of the Dead has tons of vividly red blood, tons of gore, and a particular scene that knocks out the lights on practical FX. If you’re squeamish and can’t take some serious gore, be prepared towards the end of the movie to shut some eyes. But other than that I highly recommend this to any zombie aficionado who hasn’t seen it, and any of you who are looking for a classic horror film to watch this Halloween. If those movie doesn’t make you want to be trapped in a mall with zombies, I don’t know what will.