From 1978 Dawn of the Dead is a landmark in zombie horror films. It is the second in George Romero’s ground breaking zombie series. IY is the next evolution in zombie, in both time line and the species. Besides ushering in zombie horror films into the modern age its also a milestone in explicit gore. Directors George Romero and Dario Argento were both already well known by this point for their respective previous works so this was never to going to be a flop.
The film being shot in colour put it way ahead of NOTLD in terms of watchability. Whilst Night is considered a classic in both mine and horror critics opinions, I can see how younger fans might find the black and white movie a little slow paced. The gore and horror effects in this are next level from what was around at the time. Bearing in mind this was 1978 I think it plunged new depths of gore. So much so that it earned an “X” rating. Dawn of the Dead was released unrated in the USA and banned in some countries like Australia. It went on to gross over 55 million, a big haul for a zombie flick. if you listen closely you can hear the music of Goblin as well (commonly used in Argento’s films) which add a nice touch!
The film itself is not really related to Night of the Living Dead. Plot wise it is set in the 70’s when the zombies have taken over the town (possibly country). The media are on full alert, but nobody knows exactly what’s going on. The state sends in the troopers to start eradicating the zombies. Unfortunately even these guys don’t know what’s going and innocent civilians are slaughtered in the hunt for the zombies. They eventually clear out an apartment block (with some heavy losses), and head to country with pair of reporters where they see even more of the undead roaming around the country side.
It dawns on our gang that they are now alone and have to fend for themselves. They decide to hole up together in a shopping mall, where they find supplies and food to keep existing. The mall itself is riddled with zombies so our gang has to be careful. Of course the zombies have other ideas and try to break into their area and feed on their few remaining survivors. Can our gang get out of the mall alive? Well, that my friends is where you’ll have to watch the film for yourselves to find out!
Back to what I said before about the evolution of the zombie. These are not just braindead automations like in the first film. They seem to have memories of their previous lives and and attempt to reclaim their own past lives in their actions. While the film is violent, by todays standards its not too bad. There is also no sex or nudity that many Italian horror flicks were soaked in. In my opinion I wouldn’t have a problem with my teenage kid seeing this. Id suggest it would probably only gain a 15+ rating by todays standards.
HISTORICAL IMPACT OF DAWN OF THE DEAD
Both Romero and Argento are legends of horror. I’d say the historical impact of dawn of the dead was that it was one of the first mainstream films to incorporate explicit gore. Sure there were some Italian flicks at the time that were more full on, but none made any impact on the general population. This one definitely paved the way for high level gore in films! The zombies do look a little cheap by todays standards, just grey face paint to signify the death and decay of the zombie. This aside the gore is top notch and would have left anything available at the time for dead so to speak.
There’s some good interplay between characters too. Something I feel had been lacking somewhat from the Italian gore flicks of the time. Ie: this isn’t just a gore-fest, its a pretty decent movie all round. Another interesting note is that there’s no really well known actors in this film. In fact I can’t really name any of them off the top of my head.
Overall its great fun and I’d recommend this film to any horror fan.
For more great horror movie reviews check out: https://www.gorenography.com