'Dawn of the Dead' (1978) - Zombie Movie Review
Trying to imagine our world without the existence of Dawn of the Dead is an amusing exercise. The amount of gags, jokes, comics, movies and TV shows that have existed and will continue to generate into the foreseeable future because of this film is immeasurable.
In this 1978 zombie apocalypse, Dawn of the Dead focuses on four characters. There are police SWAT officers Roger DiMarco (Scott H. Reiniger) and Peter Washington (Ken Foree) along with Philadelphia TV channel employees Stephen Andrews (David Emge) and Francine Parker (Gaylen Ross). Together they take shelter in a giant shopping mall.
After securing defenses and assigning responsibilities, the four protagonists simply start living their lives, consuming products from the stores, creating routines and emulating their pre-apocalypse lives. It helps a lot that Francine is several months pregnant; humanity in this social nucleus is virtually inescapable.
After several weeks, the four survivors achieve something incredible, considering their situation: they create a stable and secure routine to the point of getting bored with all of it. They end up wondering, in borderline depression, "What have we done with our lives?”
In an early scene, Peter and Stephen discussed the zombies' tenacity in trying to enter the mall.
“They’re after the place, they don’t know why. They just remember that they wanna be in here,” says Peter.
“What the hell are they?” says Stephen.
“They’re us, that’s all”.
Yes, Dawn of the Dead is a funny festival of bloody tempera, rubber prosthesis and animal guts, with dozens of zombies with awesome grayish, amateurish makeup and a respectable amount of fire shots. But this is not really a zombie movie. This is the first film that, by using the undead genre, is openly devoted to other topics.
Dawn of the Dead is about the obsessive quest for the so-called "stability". Even with society basically ending, the routine finds its way to reassure human emotions. Here the zombie apocalypse is just an experiment in this narrative. It shows how obsessively we look for the mundane, even without social norms, viable goals or big ambitions.
Director George A. Romero was really focused on portraying us as creatures of habit swallowed by consumption patterns. It makes sense that the main location of Dawn of the Dead is a shopping mall where humans and zombies roam (sometimes in the same fashion) from shop to shop, to the rhythm of the fantastic, humorous soundtrack of Goblin and Dario Argento.
The professions of the protagonists are not trivial details either as the four characters represent the two aspects that work directly to shape social behavior: law enforcement and the media.
What's Your Rating For Dawn of the Dead (1978)?
With Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero invented and fueled the zombie persona in popular culture, revolutionizing horror cinema by creating a new genre.
With Dawn of the Dead, Romero made a revolution within the revolution. He showed that black humor, social criticism, and gore spectacle can all be employed and enhanced and used within the format, creating multiple and diverse sub-genres.
And yes, he also gave us Hare Krishna Zombie. Few images have been so briefly hilarious, idiotic and full of powerful meaning.
Zombie Movie Details
Title: Dawn of the Dead
Release Year: 1978
Director(s): George A. Romero
Actors: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards