woman sleeps the twitching, nervous sleep of someone embroiled in a nightmare.
She awakes to find that reality is worse. A National Emergency grips the country. The corpses of the dead are rising up to attack the living.
Her name is Francine Parker (Gaylen Ross), she works for WGON, a Philadelphia news station. Through the confusion and panic of the news room we discover that the unthinkable has happened, the dead have risen from their graves and now seek out the lives of the living. Franís boyfriend, Stephen Andrews (David Emge), the stationís traffic helicopter pilot tells her that sheíd better be upstairs by 9:00 so they can escape the city before the zombies take over.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, we find SWAT teams leading a raid against Apartment complex 107, because the people living there refuse to leave to go to a safer place.
Officer Roger DeMarco (Scott H. Reiniger), and his fellow SWAT team officers close in. Once inside, one particularly upset officer, Wooley, starts busting down doors and killing innocent people for no reason at all. After crashing through another door he is finally stopped by a bullet through the heart, from one of his fellow officers.
It is now that we get our first glimpse of the living dead. One of them comes out of a room, encounters someone who loved him in life, and it decides to take a chomp out of her. A young officer horrified by the chaos surrounding him takes his own life by shooting himself in the head.
Sickened by the things he has seen and by all the tear gas in the air, Roger takes off to a secluded place to clear his head. But he finds he is not alone, as he runs into the officer who killed Wooley; his name is Peter Washington (Ken Foree).
After coming across another room full of gruesome zombies in the basement theyíve decided that enough is enough and they too decide to skip town.
Roger and Peter arrive at the police docks a little later to meet up with Rogerís waiting friends - Fran and Stephen. After a brief run-in with some renegade cops they leave for Canada, in the WGON traffic helicopter.
In time they discover that they do not have enough supplies and they're not going to make it to Canada unless Stephen gets some sleep, so they stop at a shopping mall they spot from the air. After staying a while they realise that the mall could be a self contained fortress that has everything they need to survive, so they decide to stay.
Thereís just one problem with this plan - the mall is filled with zombies.
The first order of business: seal off the doors so that no more can get in. First they have to park trucks at all the entrances so that the zombies canít get any leverage on the doors so they can close and lock them. Roger, being the only one who knows how to hot-wire an engine, and his buddy Peter take the chopper out to an old truck yard.
Unfortunately Roger has started to become blasť and careless. Though slow and stilted in motion, the zombies are still dangerous because of their large numbers and total lack of fear. While parking the trucks, Roger is bitten on the arm and on the leg, but thereís a lot of work to do before they can afford to lose him.
Having managed to get the mall sealed off, what follows are gleeful and memorable scenes of zombie destruction as the four friends 'cleanse' the mall of it's unwelcome inhabitants and seal off their new fortress. In one scene that people always remember, they drive a car round the mall shooting and ramming the hapless zombies, until none remain.
In scenes that would come to be vaguely reminiscent of "The A-Team" construction scenes, the friends consolidate their position at the mall and revel in the seemingly unlimited supplies of food, guns and hardware.
The bad news is, Rogerís bite has become infected and he is dying. They try everything they can to help him but nothing works, and so Roger dies. Some time later, his corpse returns to life, and in an intensely gripping and unforgettable scene Peter is forced to destroy his friend.
Now there are only three of them left, and all that's left to do is try to carry on as best they can. But one day, when Stephen is teaching Fran to fly the helicopter, theyíre spotted by a marauding gang of bikers, who want what our heroes have more than anything else...
Don't forget that Dawn Of The Dead is now available to order on Widescreen DVD using our special 70s search device... [See DVD section or click here for more details]
By: Wen C Bailey
George A. Romeroís "Dawn of the Dead" is one of the most essential horror movies of all time, and is undoubtedly the best zombie movie ever.
This incredible sequel to Romeroís earlier film, "Night of the Living Dead", has been highly acclaimed in both horror and mainstream movie circles.
The first time I saw this movie my only thought was Ďwow,íand in my own personal opinion it is the best horror movie of all time. Whatís even better is that itís so much more than just a horror movie, it combines the elements of horror with action/adventure, all the while showcasing the conflicts of the main characters, and being laced with underlying social commentary, plenty of gore (if that should strike your fancy), and has just enough comic relief to even out all these elements, so that it stays fun to watch.
For a cast of relative unknowns, the acting is excellent, and the characters are very likeable. Roger is an energetic fun character, which left a lot of people very unhappy to see him go, Peter is the calm, reliable character who anybody would like.
Finally thereís Stephen and Fran, although individually they are unexciting, what is so likeable about them is the realism of their relationship. They're both part of one of those oh-so common relationships that just teeter on the edge of abusiveness, and yet still a very strong bond exists.
One scene that exhibits this quite well is when the T.V. station stopped sending out transmissions and Fran turned it off and Stephen turns it back on again - terrific emotional tension.
Out of Romeroís three Dead films, "Dawn of the Dead" has by far the best character development. "Night of the Living Dead"s character development was poor because it took place within the confines of one night and the only real emotions the characters show is anger and fear.
In "Day of the Dead", only the main character was really developed at all. The rest of the characters spent the entirety of the film bickering and screaming at each other.
In "Dawn of the Dead", terror is not only derived from atmosphere, tension, and shock value but also from fear for the characters, because you are lead to care about the characters and donít want to see them die.
Many people believe that the only social commentary that exists in this film is in the somewhat anti-consumerism message that Romero is trying to send. This is not true, although the consumerism message is a very important aspect.
All the zombies are going to the mall, the centre of consumerism, they donít know why, but thatís where they want to be, thatís where they need to be. The mall was a very important place in their lives, even thought the majority of what can be found at the mall is not necessary to human survival. Itís all due to western culture being influenced by government and commercial business into striving for the acquirement of things. We go to school, trying to get into the best universities possible so we can get the best job and get the most money so we can get the most things. We donít need any of these things to live, we just want them.
This film also show us how humans are magnificently adaptive creatures that were designed to conquer and control their environment. When our four heroes first came to the mall they were forced to sleep on the floor, and worse yet, eat spam. But then they overcame all odds and managed to secure the mall off as a relatively safe place and then capitalized on their situation.
The shopping mall becomes their castle as they take advantage of itís arcades, beauty salon, skating rink, and swanky restaurants. And in their living space in the roof, theyíve got beds, a nice sectional couch, a refrigerator and an oven, a television, a record player, even a nice arrangement of scented candles, all the comforts of home.
Lastly, there are the bikers, the anarchists, also driven by the ideals of consumerism, who break into the mall. They vandalize the mall and destroy many of its contents, the mall which had become the home of the three remaining heroes. This causes Stephen to attack them, which I would think is a natural reaction when someone is destroying your property.
Something else that I find interesting about the bikers is that they, not the zombies, are the true villains of the film. In fact, I think that zombies taking over is merely a vehicle for the social commentary that Romero is trying to deliver.
Sure some aspects of this movie are a tad cheesy, the bright red paint as blood and the blue-skinned ghouls, but they didnít detract from the film at all. In fact they helped add to the comic book-like feeling George Romero was trying to create.
And then there are those action sequences which, despite the fact that they are not professionally choreographed, are very clever.
Tension is built up beautifully in frightening scenes and most of the action sequences are filled with subtle slapstick humour. I think that the dark humour in this film is a very supportive element, without it this film may too morose for some peopleís tastes, and to take away the humour would decrease the overall quality of the film.
And then thereís the gore, something which, unfortunately, is the only thing some people remember this movie for. Despite the red paint blood and the low budget, the gore effects are really quite good, all created by Tom Savini, whoís worked with George Romero on several occasions.
If you should take exception to gore, donít worry, just look away when itís on - donít pass up a good movie watching experience because youíre squeamish. Iím totally serious when I say that this an amazing movie, so go pick up a copy and watch it as soon as possible, you wonít regret it.
Inspiration: In 1974, George Romero was taken on a tour of the shopping mall in Monroeville by a friend who was one of its owners and an investor in Romero's films. He watched the shoppers mesmerised by commercialism and they reminded him of zombies... The premise of Dawn was born.
A lot of the music heard in the mall was not intentional, the real mall used for filming had the music on a timer to come on every day at 6:00am and no one knew how to turn it off!
In the alternate ending of the film Peter shoots himself in the head and Fran cuts her head off in the chopper blades.
George Romero and his wife Christine make cameos in the film as the director and the director's assistant at the television station. Romero makes another cameo later as a biker.
Romero's wife Christine Forrest can be heard over the intercom in the mall ("Attention all shoppers...").
Makeup supremo Tom Savini plays the biker 'Blades' and his assistant, Taso N. Stavrakis plays the biker 'Sledge'. Tom would be seen again many years later in "From Dusk 'Til Dawn" Tarrantino's casting of him a high profile tribute to his career.
Because of the low budget Romero couldn't afford professional stunt people outside stunt drivers, so almost all the stunts are provided courtesy of Tom Savini and Taso N. Stavrakis.
The red paint blood was actually a mixture of food coloring, peanut butter and sugar cane syrup.
The two zombie children who attack Peter at the airport are actually Donna and Mike Savini the niece and nephew of Tom Savini.
Tom savini was not just the make-up effects man but also performed most of the physical stunts in the film as well. [Thanks to Jon]
When two of the main chracters are driving 18 wheelers to the mall to block the entrances, one zombie is hit and thrown from the truck. It is none other than Tom Savini.In slow motion, the trampoline that he jumped off of for the scene is visible in the shot. [Thanks to Mandy Hutchins]
Ironically the zombie with the fascination for the M-16 was Clayton Hill, the movie's weapons coordinator.
In the tenant's cellar towards the beginning of the movie, Peter fires seven shots from his revolver (which is actually only capable of six shots) before reloading. [Thanks to Tom E.]
Extras in the film received $20 cash, a box lunch and a Dawn of the Dead t-shirt.
Dario Argento, who co-financed this film, was reportedly the person who suggested to Romero that he make a sequel to 'Night of the Living Dead'.
know some Dawn Of The Dead trivia that we could add? [Please
send it in]
Featured Location: Shopping Mall
Wanna see the real life location used for Shopping Mall in the movie? It was actually filmed at Monroeville Mall, located in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. [Show me a Map/Directions]
This huge mall was home to 143 different stores in 1978. In 1969 the 300 acre site in the eastern section of Pittsburgh was developed into the 1.3 million square foot Monroeville Mall Shopping Complex.
"Filming in the mall was hell. We couldn't get in there until all the shops were closed and cleaned up which meant 10 or 11 at night. Then there was a tavern, a restaurant and a sort of disco that was open till 2am in the morning so we couldn't shoot sound till after then." - George Romero
Although the mall still exists today, many of the shops have either changed or been heavily refurbished in the meantime. JC Penney remains though, apparently little changed since Dawn was shot.
The basic structure of the mall itself remains virtually identical - the infamous lights on the marble pillars are still there as are the huge skylights and the fountain at the east end.
The Harold W. Brown Memorial Airfield (Monroeville Municipal Airport) was used for scenes of refuelling the chopper. This small airstrip, no more than ten minutes away from the mall is still used today and the petrol pumps are still there after 24 years!. The charthouse in which Peter kills the zombie kids also remains and is still used regularly.
The gun store featured in the film was not located in the mall, these scenes where actually shot in a Pittsburgh gun store and footage was edited to look like it was a part of the mall.
« Featured Link: Virtual tour of the mall with pictures
Can you help? Do you know any of the Pennsylvania (or any other) filming locations used for Dawn Of The Dead? [Please send them in]
|Trailer, Commentary, Featurette, Notes|
4 disc (!) Special Edition|
|Trailer, Commentary, Featurette, Notes|
This soundtrack is the background music composed and preformed by Italian band Goblin. It was fortunatley re-released recently. The tracks are as follows:
1. L'alba dei morti viventi
4. Torte in faccia
5. Ai margini della follia
7. La caccia
11. L'alba dei morti viventi (Alternate Take)
12. Ai margini della follia (Alternate Take)
13. Zombi (Sexy)
14. Ai margini della follia (Alternate Take)
15. Zombi (Supermarket)
16. L'alba dei morti viventi (Intro-Alternate Take)
17. Zombi (The Living Dead's Voices!) (Bonus Track)
Soundtrack Available: On CD
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