aka: The Zombies, Zombie, Zombie: Dawn of the Dead, Zombies, Zombies: Dawn of the Dead
Director: George Romero
Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, David Crawford
When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.
The dead has risen and are now slowly taking over society. There is some military resistance and also heated discussions on what the living are supposed to do with the dead. A small group of three men and a female seek refuge at a big shopping mall where they have everything they could ever desire to survive.
Dawn of the Dead is the long-awaited follow-up to Night of the Living Dead. George Romero was wary of doing another zombie movie after Night, but after doing a few other smaller projects he felt that the time was right to gather his crew and do a new entry into his zombie saga. Dario Argento was eager to contribute to this project after being a fan of Romero’s previous work. Romero also was a fan of Argento’s work so the collaboration of the two horror legends both sparked this incredible zombie movie and also a friendship between the two maestro’s that is still lasting to this day.
Argento and his brother Claudio helped to secure the financing. and also got Goblin to do the music score, which adds greatly to nearly every scene of the movie. It’s a fantastic soundtrack and perhaps even top 10 of all time when it comes to soundtracks from horror movies. Argento also made an italian cut that was shorter, had more music from Goblin and also was much more action filled. Argento and Romero would also collaborate later on with the movie Two Evil Eyes.
If it wasn’t enough with two horror legends, Tom Savini was hired to do the special effects. This is the movie that shot him up into special effects stardom and is responsible for getting him hired on the upcoming movies Friday the 13th and Maniac. The zombies have a blueish look to them and it doesn’t look very good. The gore however is very, very nasty and it’s the groundbreaking gory scenes that is the true horror of the movie since the tone otherwise is quite fun and even comedic at times. Even by todays standard, 34 years later, it is bound to shock and make some stomachs turn.
The actors seemed to have a lot of freedom with their characters which made them able to create some characters that are seem very real. Ken Foree (From Beyond, The Devil’s Rejects) was great as the strong, tall and smart SWAT team member Peter and he has gotten roles in horror movies still to this day thanks to this role. Scott H. Reiniger (Knightriders, Dawn of the Dead 2004 Remake) plays his funny sidekick Roger and also does a great job and they had a great chemistry together. David Emge (Basket Case 2, Hellmaster) plays Stephen and Gaylen Ross (Madman, Creepshow) plays Francine. They are a couple who had been working for a television station before the mayhem started and their relationship goes through some ups an downs while being isolated in the shopping mall. They both do a good job, although Ross has some few scenes where she is not very convincing. All in all, the casting was also done very well and should be applauded.
As most horror fans know by now, the movie has some social commentary about consumerism and it’s not exactly done very subtly. The zombies wandering around like brain dead morons in the mall with good sales being announced over the regular mall music is actually just as current today as it was in the starting days of shopping malls in the late 70’s. It also shows that while our main characters think they have hit gold by finding the shopping mall, they eventually get bored and feel isolated by staying inside the big building.
Romero’s zombies here all have their own characteristic and they all seem quite unique. I have to say that zombie Stephen is my favorite, the way David Emge walks and acts as a zombie is just awesome. Romero also show a lot of improvement and he delivers perhaps his best movie of his career here. I’d say that Dawn is also even more influential than Night and it is a movie that has something for everyone. The soundtrack gives it some euro-feel, the gore is plenty for gorehounds, the social commentary is great for the “intelligent” viewer and it’s very fun. The only thing that is missing is actually scares since it’s not a very scary movie.
Dawn of the Dead is one of the best horror movies of all time and perhaps the best zombie movie of all time. It’s available in theatrical cut, extended cut and the Argento cut. Most people seem to prefer the theatrical cut, I’d say that it’s such a good movie that everyone should give all three versions a go. If you don’t have it, then what are you waiting for? Get it now.