Horror

Review of Dawn of the Dead, 1978

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Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½

Review

George A. Romero’s epic sequel to his genre-defining Night of the Living Dead is arguably superior to its ground-breaking predecessor.

As a zombie plague engulfs the planet, four survivors – TV girl Fran, her helicopter pilot boyfriend Stephen and two soldiers Peter and Roger – take refuge in a sprawling shopping mall, sealing the doors and creating a zombie-free hideout. In time they find their lives dull and empty inside their consumers’ paradise until their peace is destroyed by a marauding biker gang. The ensuing battle against both the bikers and the undead provides more opportunity for some wonderful gore.

The film is wonderfully written and directed and is full of satire, sub-text, allegory and clever imagery. The characters are well developed and reasonably played and the dialogue is both believable and economic enough to ensure a well-paced film. This all means that you can watch, completely guilt-free, an array of wonderfully produced gory effects (god bless Tom Savini) – screwdrivers through the ear, a rotor-blade scalping, bullet induced head explosions, machete decapitations and a liberal sprinkling of gut-munching.

On a personal note, Romero is the “Daddy” of the zombie genre and all the subsequent fast moving zombie goons really need to be bitch-slapped with a copy of the DVD, preferably prior to removing from the player.

Reason to Watch

The film is simply one of the best horror films ever made. Can be watched simply to revel in the violence or gore (of which there certainly is plenty) or can be appreciated as multi-faceted piece of cinematic art.

Context

Made in 1978 a full ten years after the first in the series. The delay, in part, was due to Romeros desire not to become overly identified with the horror genre. The delay didn’t work out too well for old George as whilst the film was a huge critical and financial success it certainly had him positively hog-tied to the zombie genre.

Most Memorable Quotes

“They’re us, that’s all, when there’s no more room in hell.”

“Who the hell cares! Let’s go shopping!”

What You Need To Get Through This Movie

To some extent this depends on what you want to take from the movie and also which version you are watching. If you are planning to have a beer-soaked gore and violence fest then the remote may come in handy, especially if you are watching the rather-slower paced 140 minute extended version.

Trivia

Despite being a sequel this is the first Romero film in which the zombies were actually called zombies.

Simon Pegg, star and co-writer of Shaun of the Dead, is a huge fan of the film and the work of Romero generally and is hence staunchly against the seeming modern move towards faster moving zombies.

Educational Content
  1. Zombies move slowly!
  2. To kill a zombie their brain must be destroyed.
  3. Even well-lit malls can be really scary.
  4.  Surviving a zombie apocalypse is pretty tricky and we should all have our plans in place.
  5. Zombies may be slow and clumsy but you have to admire their tenacity.
Justification for Rating

It would have got 10 out of 10 but some of the acting could have been a little better.

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Copyright 2008.