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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Dawn Of The Dead 1978 Reviewed

Featured Image For Dawn Of The Dead 1978 Reviewed.   A poster with a ghoulish, zombie-like figure silhouetted against a vibrant pink and black background for "Dawn of the Dead.
When hell is full, the dead will walk the earth, craving the dawn in a world turned nightmare.

In America these days, there ain’t no escaping the dead. They lurch across TV screens, their clammy skin and dead eyes invading our living rooms. They stumble out of novels, their hunger painted in crimson-soaked prose. They are everywhere. It’s like the living are some dwindling minority, hunkering down on our little plots of land, waiting for the inevitable, shambling horde. But it wasn't always like this, you know? There was a time when the dead stayed quiet, resting in their graves like they should.

Dawn Of The Dead 1978 Key Takeaways

  • Consumerism as a disease: The shopping mall setting isn't just a backdrop - it symbolizes our society's obsession with material possessions and how that obsession can distract us from and even contribute to our downfall.

  • The true monsters may be within: It's not just the zombies that pose a threat; human greed, selfishness, and short-sightedness become equally, if not more destructive as the apocalypse unfolds.

  • No place is truly safe: Even as the survivors create a temporary fortress inside the mall, it's clear that no shelter is permanent in a world overrun by the undead. The threat is constant, and the question is not if but when things will fall apart.

  • Survival requires adaptability and difficult choices: The characters who survive the longest are those willing to think outside the box, be ruthless when necessary, and realize that the rules of the old world no longer apply.

  • The fragility of society: Law and order, basic infrastructure, everything we take for granted collapses with shocking speed. The film shows us how thin the veneer of civilization really is.

  • The horror is visceral and relentless: Tom Savini's gory special effects are a signature of the film, pushing boundaries and delivering a raw, realistic vision of zombie violence.

  • Unforgettable and unsettling soundtrack: Goblin's iconic score blends frantic energy with moments of haunting beauty, heightening the film's overall sense of unease and adding to its legacy.

Woman with wide eyes and open mouth watching a horror movie on an old TV.
The terror on the screen was nothing compared to the creeping dread she felt twisting in her gut

That was before Romero. Before he showed us what the dead could be, what they could do when they set aside that graveyard chill and embraced the warmth of movement, of purpose. Romero’s films sliced into the horror scene like a rusted machete, carving out a new world of terror. And the cornerstone of that world? That’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’. If ‘Night of the Living Dead’ was Romero’s first brutal strike, then ‘Dawn’ was him digging in, showing us the full splatter and scope of his vision.

It ain’t just a horror film; it’s a mirror held up to society, where those shuffling horrors out in the parking lot…well, they ain't so far removed from us folks bunkered inside the mall.

Our eyes might not be milky with rot, might not crave human flesh, but look close. See that hunger for things, the way we consume without question, without purpose? 'Dawn of the Dead' forces us to confront that mindless lust, and the question ain't if the dead will get us, but whether we're already one of them.

Now, let’s be clear - this movie is soaked in gore. Like, drenched. Necks ripped open, guts spilling out, and one poor biker…well, let’s just say his date with a horde of the undead gets real messy, real fast. It's a testament to maestro Tom Savini, whose practical effects ain’t for the faint of heart. They smack you in the face with the ugliness and brutality of a world gone to hell. Makes the zombies feel real, not just some spooky backdrop.

Man stares at a vintage TV in fear, his body tense.
He swore he could smell the rotting flesh of the zombies, even through the screen.

One Of The Best Zombie Horror Movies Ever

The setting is what sets 'Dawn of the Dead' apart. That sprawling shopping mall, it ain’t just a place. It’s the cathedral of our mindless excess, a monument to all that pointless stuff we crave. Our four survivors – the cool-headed SWAT member Peter (Ken Foree), his buddy Roger (Scott H. Reiniger), TV exec Francine (Gaylen Ross), and her helicopter pilot boyfriend Stephen (David Emge) – find this twisted sanctuary. They barricade themselves in, turn this temple of consumerism into their fortress. But, you know, the walls can't keep everything out.

See, as much as it's about those shambling monsters outside, this film is truly about what gets unleashed inside. Cabin fever, greed, fear - those are the things that start to tear the survivors apart from the seams long before any zombie busts down the doors. Romero ain't just showing us survival against hordes. He's showing us how even the best of intentions, the strongest bonds, ain’t worth a damn when the rot starts to set in our souls.

The performances are raw, gritty, and perfectly suited to the kind of unvarnished chaos of this world. Foree's Peter is the anchor, a man trying his best to make sense of the madness. Ross plays Francine not as some damsel in distress but as a woman finding her own strength in the crucible of the apocalypse. And then there’s the late, great Scott H. Reiniger as Roger - reckless, hot-headed, and always with a cocky swagger that hides his growing fear.

Of course, no talk of 'Dawn of the Dead' is complete without mentioning Goblin. Their soundtrack is like a fever dream turned up to eleven. Jagged synths and frantic drums that ratchet up the tension, or these haunting, melancholic melodies that wash over you in the quiet moments. It's iconic, man, an essential part of the movie's unsettling power.

And that is Dawn Of The Dead 1978 Reviewed. Another amazing classic horror movie every fan needs to own. 

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If You Liked Dawn Of The Dead 1978 You Might Also Like These Films

  • Night of the Living Dead (1968): The granddaddy of modern zombie cinema, directed by George A. Romero. This black-and-white classic established many of the zombie tropes seen in Dawn of the Dead, albeit with a smaller scale and a more socially charged focus on race and societal breakdown during the turbulent 60s.

  • The Evil Dead (1981): Sam Raimi's cult classic bursts with over-the-top gore and twisted humor, but retains a core of genuine terror. A group of friends unleashed demonic forces in a remote cabin, mirroring Dawn's themes of facing an unstoppable external threat while internal tensions threaten to tear the survivors apart.

  • 28 Days Later (2002): This British film revitalized the zombie genre with fast-moving 'infected' and a bleak vision of societal collapse. While lacking Dawn's satire, it shares a relentless pace and explores the moral ambiguity of extreme survival scenarios.

  • Re-Animator (1985): Shifting gears to the wonderfully grotesque, this horror-comedy classic leans heavily on body horror and practical effects like Dawn of the Dead. A medical student discovers how to bring the dead back to life, leading to hilariously horrifying results that will appeal to those who enjoy Dawn's graphic sensibility.

  • The Return of the Living Dead (1985): This quirky film takes the zombie concept in a wildly different direction. Here, zombies are intelligent, comedic, and crave brains. It shares Dawn's setting of a confined space under siege but offers a punk-infused, darkly humorous take on the apocalypse.

Dawn Of The Dead 1978 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is Dawn of the Dead? 

A: Dawn of the Dead is a 1978 American-Italian horror film written, directed, and edited by George A. Romero. It's the second installment in Romero's iconic "...of the Dead" series, building upon the zombie apocalypse established in his groundbreaking 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. Though not a direct sequel, it expands the scope and explores the devastating impact on society.

Q: Why is Dawn Of The Dead considered one of the best zombie films? 

A: Dawn of the Dead is revered for several reasons:

  • Social Commentary: Romero infuses the film with biting satire on consumerism and materialism. The shopping mall setting cleverly mirrors our mindless consumption and raises questions about true value in times of crisis.

  • Expanded Zombie Lore: While Night of the Living Dead started the modern zombie concept, Dawn of the Dead popularized the flesh-eating, slow-moving horde that has become a horror staple.

  • Genre Influence: The film's gore (shocking for its time), realistic special effects by Tom Savini, and claustrophobic siege mentality have inspired countless zombie films and creators ever since.

Q: Can you tell me more about the user reviews for Dawn Of The Dead?

A: User reviews for Dawn of the Dead are overwhelmingly positive. Here's what audiences often praise:

  • Suspense and Intensity: The film's pacing builds dread expertly, with moments of both relentless action and quiet, gnawing tension.

  • Characters: Viewers connect with the flawed yet relatable survivors, making their struggles and choices feel impactful.

  • Social Relevance: Even decades later, the film's themes of consumerism and societal breakdown continue to spark discussion.

Q: How does Dawn Of The Dead fare on Rotten Tomatoes? 

A: Dawn of the Dead holds a remarkably high "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, currently sitting at 93%. This indicates widespread and lasting critical acclaim, cementing its status as a horror classic.

Q: What makes Dawn Of The Dead one of the best horror films ever made? 

A: Dawn of the Dead earns its place among horror greats because of:

  • Unflinching Vision: Romero doesn't pull punches. The film is brutal, bleak, and forces audiences to confront the fragility of societal order.

  • Iconic Score: The soundtrack by the band Goblin is instantly recognizable, with driving rhythms and eerie melodies enhancing the film's unique atmosphere.

  • Enduring Legacy: The film's influence is undeniable, shaping zombie tropes and inspiring social commentary within the horror genre for generations.

Q: Who are some notable characters in Dawn Of The Dead? 

A: The film focuses on four main survivors:

  • Peter Washington: A level-headed SWAT team member played by Ken Foree, whose leadership and pragmatism are crucial to the group's survival.

  • Stephen "Flyboy" Andrews: A helicopter pilot portrayed by David Emge, whose skills become essential but whose cynicism puts him at odds with the group.

  • Francine Parker: A television executive played by Gaylen Ross, who transforms from scared to resourceful in the face of the apocalypse.

  • Roger DeMarco: Another SWAT member played by Scott H. Reiniger, known for his brash and reckless nature.

Q: How does Dawn Of The Dead compare to other zombie movies like Night of the Living Dead or Day of the Dead? 

A: Dawn of the Dead sits comfortably as a significant evolution in Romero's zombie universe:

  • Night of the Living Dead: The original is stark black-and-white, focuses on a smaller group in a rural farmhouse, and its terror is more intimate. Dawn is bigger, louder, and its social critique is sharper.

  • Day of the Dead: Romero's third "...of the Dead" film is bleaker, focusing on scientists and soldiers in a bunker, with zombies evolving some intelligence. Dawn stands between them in ambition and tone.


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