Dawn of the Dead (1978): Movie Review

A long awaited review, following my book review of Dawn of the Dead, so here it is. After all these years I am finally reviewing this iconic movie. Released in 1978, with various cuts and special editions, this review will focus on the 2 hour and 7 minute movie. That is the version I have on DVD and have had for years, the blu-ray is expensive and very sought after. Rated by IMDB at 7.9 and Rotten Tomatoes at 93%. Directed by George A. Romero. 

Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

Here’s the trailer: https://www.imdb.com/video/vi215942681?playlistId=tt0077402&ref_=tt_ov_vi

Starring an unknown cast at the time, which adds a fantastic authentic feel to the movie, following Night of the Living Dead and proceeding Day of the Dead, Dawn stands tall as one of the greatest movies ever made and probably the best zombie movie made. David Emge as Stephen, Ken Foree as Peter, Scott H. Reiniger as Roger and Gaylen Ross as Francine. The cast are very good actors and the acting is just very real, I didn’t think to myself on the first watch, ‘I’m watching a movie,’ I thought, ‘this is a great adventure.’

Ripe with consumerism symbolism, and selfish greed, we see our characters survive as they battle to take back the giant mall from the dead whilst enjoying the excess luxury all the shops have to offer. Our first encounter with the characters is Francine, in a memorable chaotic scene at the start of the movie inside an overwhelmed and understaffed news station trying to get the news out to the world that the zombies are taking over. It’s not long before they are all on-board the chopper off to the mall.

Things were slightly unsettling and disturbing before reaching the mall, and then Tom Savini (make-up, fx) brings us some dire zombies elegantly directed by Romero. The shopping mall really does take on a claustrophobic feel, and with the continued use of red, it’s easy to get scared. First time I was! Of course, our heroes are temporarily safe and they begin to enjoy the luxury.

Each store becomes their haven, they over indulge, taking a lot of things to make home their small storage room. This is some genius directing and plot, because we know that all this materialism will not save them in the end. The threat of the zombies soon goes, and the survivors become the zombies, in and out of the shops.

Then we get to the end of the movie, the biker gang. Their attack unsettles this fake paradise that our survivors have built, and they don’t like that. The gang attack, zombies are unleashed on the mall and our group is left with 1 option…escape! The finale was and is an epic and uncharted case of movie making. Today, motorbike gangs in zombies films are probably overdone, but back then, it was cutting edge, along with Savini’s special fx. There are wide camera shots of the bikers in the mall, long shots of our survivors running around and over the shoulder shots for some brutal kills. Legendary moment: Tom Savini as the biker who machete’s a zombie in the head!.

The ending, the bikers leave having unleashed carnage on the mall, and ignorant of what life truly means. The zombies are back and our remaining survivors are forced out by the dead in a chilling end scene, one of the most iconic in movie history also.

If you are a zombie fan, horror fan, comedy fan or just want to watch a relevant movie, then Dawn of the Dead is for you.


And that is rare to get a 5 from me. Take care.

8 thoughts on “Dawn of the Dead (1978): Movie Review

  1. It’s a damn classic, and always will be!

    The Monroeville Mall was my hometown mall until I was about 23 and moved into the city. When I was young it looked exactly like the movie, but when you go now there isn’t even one piece of the old mall left! It’s quite a shame! But they do have (or at least used to have) a little storefront dedicated to movie and it has a bunch of movie props and videos on loop. A must-see if you ever make it out to Pittsburgh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you’re ever in the area you should definitely stop by. The outside still looks exactly the same! And Pittsburgh has a zombie festival each year downtown and stuff, the city has embraced the zombie capital title. Haha.

      I think the 2004 remake was filmed at a different mall- the Thornhill? I think it’s in Canada. I’d like to visit that one too! That remake was fun.

      Liked by 1 person

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