Dawn of the Dead (1978)
dawn of the dead | george a. romero | david emge | ken foree | scott h. reiniger | zombie | sequel | drama | italy | united states | zombies | night of the living dead | tom savini | gaylen ross | dario argento
Film: Dawn of the Dead
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree and Scott H. Reiniger
This film is the second part of the Dead series from George Romero. This film begins at a television station where they are talking about the epidemic of the dead returning to life. There is a woman who is working there, played by Gaylen Ross, who doesn’t want to risk the lives of people by keeping rescue station list up, which draws anger from her boss.
From there we go to a SWAT team trying to evacuate a project where armed men are held up. One of the veteran members, who is played by Scott H. Reiniger, helps lead the charge. We learn that he is a good guy and doesn’t just want to kill the men there, like others in his unit.
The building doesn’t give resistance after the armed men are dealt with, but there is quite a bit of dead and zombies inside the building. While they are cleaning it out, Reiniger meets another guy from a different unit, who is played by Ken Foree. Reiniger asks him to join with a friend and his girlfriend in their helicopter to find somewhere to go.
While in the air, they see the extent of what is going on and realize that it is getting out of control. They find a shopping mall to stop at and to rest, as well as restock. While they’re there though, they decide to stick around. They lock the place down and clean it up, but there are others out there that want what they have. Can they survive the encounter? Can they find a life worth living in during this holocaust?
This film is one of my favorites. It is an excellent zombie film and probably one of the best in this genre. There are some parts that are unrealistic and things that happen wouldn’t probably happen in real life. The blood is a little too orange and some of the ways people are bit couldn’t happen, but it doesn’t affect the film too much. It is actually a sign of the times and it does give the film a bit of a comic book feel.
The most important thing to me is the issues that Romero tackles with this film. A big issue is that the zombies come to the mall after they turned and it takes a look at us as a nation, in that we are slave to commerce. The films makes it seem that even after we are dead and return as a zombie, we will still go back to what we did even after we are dead. There is also an issue of sexism, a little bit of racism and there also is a look at the degeneration of society. I do like that Ross stands up to be respected like one of the men and her boyfriend, David Emge, is resisting her in this endeavor. I do like that she doesn’t stand idly by though.
Now the acting in this film was done by mostly unknown people and many of them haven’t done much after this. The person that I’m impressed by the most is Foree. He did go on to become a famous horror film actor and has done some other things, but he is the glue that keeps everyone together. He is the hero and the black man of the film, especially breaking the stereotypes we see in horror that they are destined to die first. He allows Ross to talk, listens to her and gives in to her demands, because none of them are unreasonable. Ross as I have slightly touched on is similar to Foree in that she is a minority as a woman. It turns out that she is pregnant as well. She stands up to Emge at every turn, which I like to see since he does boss her around. It is even better that he proposes in this film to her and she shuts it down immediately. She isn’t as vocal as Foree, but she is strong. Reiniger is also great to me because mentally he starts to lose it from the opening scenes he is in. We see when it finally snaps, I love it. Foree notices it and tries to keep his head in what they’re doing, because it is jeopardizing not only himself, but everyone. He does a great job in this portrayal.
I also wanted to touch on that the editing of this film was also done by the director, George A. Romero, and I like what he did. The shots and how they are put together are great. Now there are some errors that occur during this, like women zombies changing into men so the stunts could be done, but it doesn’t ruin the film. I didn’t even notice some of these until viewing the film as many times as I have. The bigger thing is the soundtrack. It was done by Dario Argento and the band Goblin, who did a lot of films soundtracks with the Italian director. It has a crazy sound, but also adds creepiness. I think it really enhances the film for me. I also love the practical effects that were done by Tom Savini for the film. As stated, the blood is a little bit too orange, but I personally don’t mind it being from the 70’s where vivid color was a big thing. I love the gory ending and what happens to those that the zombies actually get their hands on.
I would highly recommend this film. It is a great zombie flick and a really solid film in general. This one is a bit long and gets slow in the middle when they make the mall habitable, but the acting is great, the action is as well and the story itself is amazing. There is a gory finale and there is a good amount of blood in general. The editing was well done and I personally find the soundtrack to be amazing, to the point that I own it. This is a film is a solid view and I recommend it. A rare horror film that is good, but also looks at some issues that are still relevant today.
My Rating: 10 out of 10