Dawn of the Dead (1978)

From Academic Kids

As the tagline suggests, "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth." Dawn of the Dead is a zombie horror film, the second in George A. Romero's Living Dead series of films (following Night of the Living Dead (1968)). This shocking movie, in addition to launching the so-called "splatter craze" in horror films, received much critical acclaim for, among other things, the subtext involving American consumerism and materialism.

The film, shot during a period of approximately four months in late 1977 and early 1978, was made on a relatively low budget of around $1.5 million. Filming of scenes in the Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pennsylvania was done only when the shopping center was closed for business, roughly between 10:00 PM and 8:00 AM; as Director Romero put it, "Filming in the mall was hell." Zombie make-up effects, created by Tom Savini, varied widely from the austere to the impressive. Most undead extras received little more than gray make-up slathered on their exposed skin.

However, despite limitations imposed by 1970s film-making technology, late-night filming and budgetary constraints, the film is one of the most fiscally successful horror films ever (based on production cost versus profit). The film's great success is due, in large part, to the fact that the film made great use of the international market. It was edited and presented in a variety of ways, based on popular expectations for cinema in each market for which it was intended. For example, Italian producer Dario Argento edited the movie to achieve a story with considerably less character development and a much faster pace, in comparison to Romero's definitive cut, which was peppered with humor and driven by cultural satire.

A remake of the movie premiered in the United States on March 10, 2004. The new version varies considerably from the original; many of the major themes, including the primary setting in a shopping mall, remain essentially the same, but the film is a complete rewrite.


The Plot

Following the scenario set up in the previous movie, Night of the Living Dead, the film depicts a United States of America struck by a plague, the symptom of which is the reanimation of dead human beings whose primary goal is to feast on the flesh of the living. The cause of this plague, as in the first film, remains defiantly unexplained. Despite desperate efforts by the U.S. Government and local civil authorities to control the situation, society has effectively collapsed and the remaining survivors seek any refuge they can find.

The plot centers on four Philadephians: a local televison personality named Francine; her traffic pilot boyfriend, Stephen; one of his close friends, Roger, a SWAT Team member; and the ever-resourceful Peter, also of the Philadelphia SWAT team. As in the first film, the black character, Peter, is the primary hero. Roger is increasingly reckless, while Stephen is incompetent and petty; in true horror film style they both suffer for their character flaws.

The film opens in the WGON Television Studio, where confusion reigns. Following some exposition, the plot turns to another of the film's protagonists, Roger, as he and the rest of his SWAT Team raid an apartment building (presumably because the residents, mostly Hispanic, are ignoring aspects of Martial Law). It is during this time that Roger makes acquaintance with Peter, suggesting they leave the SWAT Team, as well as Philadelphia.

Late that night, the four leave Philadelphia in a helicopter stolen from the television station, with the intention of reaching the safety of the Canadian wilderness. Following some close calls while stopping for fuel, the group happens upon a shopping mall, they decide to make the mall their own private sanctuary, blocking the large glass doors with trucks, to keep the undead from freely entering. It is during this operation that the impulsive Roger is bitten, doomed to die painfully (and to rise again). After clearing the mall of its zombie inhabitants, the four settle in, each indulging his every material desire. Eventually, Roger passes, and is later put out of his misery by Peter. Time passes, as the undead paw at the mall entrances and society beyond those doors continues its collapse. As the novelty of their materialist Utopia wears thin, they begin to realize their refuge has become their prison.

Their "liberation" comes in the form of a large gang of bikers breaking into the mall, and in the process, allowing thousands of the undead creatures in. During their plunder, the foolish Stephen initiates a battle with the bikers. In the end, the only true winners are the ravenous zombies, who feast upon many of the bikers, as well as, eventually, Stephen himself. Upon Stephen's reanimation, he leads a large group of the creatures to Francine and Peter, who are awaiting Stephen's return (either dead or alive). After destroying Stephen, Peter and Francine escape to the roof, and to an uncertain future, as they fly away in the short-on-fuel helicopter, ending the movie.

Production Information

Cast Members (listed in credited order): David Emge, as Stephen; Ken Foree, as Peter; Scott H. Reiniger, as Roger; Gaylen Ross, as Francine; David Crawford, as Dr. Foster; David Early, as Mr. Berman; Richard France, as Dr. Milliard Rausch, Scientist; Howard Smith, as TV Commentator; Daniel Dietrich, as Givens; Fred Baker, as Police Commander; James A. Baffico, as Wooley; Rod Stouffer, as Roy Tucker, Young Officer on Roof; Jesse Del Gre, as Old Priest; Clayton McKinnon, as Officer in Apartment Project; John Rice, as Officer in Apartment Project; Ted Bank, as Officer at Police Dock; Patrick McCloskey, as Officer at Police Dock; Randy Kovitz, as Officer at Police Dock; Joseph Pilato, as Officer at Police Dock; Pasquale Buba, as a Motorcycle Raider (with tommy gun); Tom Savini, as Blades; Tony Buba, as a Motorcycle Raider (wearing sombrero); Marty Schiff, as a Motorcycle Raider; Joe Shelby, as a Motorcycle Raider; Dave Hawkins, as a Motorcycle Raider; Taso N. Stavrakis, as Sledge; Tom Kapusta, as a Motorcycle Raider (with seltzer bottle); Nick Tallo, as a Motorcycle Raider; Rudy Ricci, as a Motorcycle Raider, radio operator; Larry Vaira, as a Motorcycle Raider; Sharon Ceccatti, as a Lead Zombie (nurse); Pam Chatfield, as a Lead Zombie; Mike Christopher, as a Lead Zombie; Clayton Hill, as a Lead Zombie (wearing white sweater); Jay Stover, as a Lead Zombie (with M-16 rifle);

Uncredited Cast members (listed alphabetically): John Amplas, as a Bandit (shot on rooftop; Dave Bartholomew, as a Zombie; Christine Forrest (Romero), as a TV Producer; Cliff Forrest, as a Man at WGON TV ("You all right?"); Roy Frumkes, as a Zombie (first zombie with pie in face); John Harrison, as a Zombie (screwdriver zombie); Jeannie Jefferies, as a Zombie (zombie who attacks Roger in truck); Jim Krut, as a Zombie (top of head sliced off by helicopter blade); Tommy Lafitte, as a Zombie ("Miguel"); Maxine Lapiduss, as a Zombie; Lenny Lies, as a Zombie (machette zombie); Molly McCloskey, as a Woman at WGON TV ("My turn for the coat"); George A. Romero, as WGON TV Director; Donna Savini, as a Zombie (female child at airport); Mike Savini, as a Zombie (male child at airport); Warner Shook, as a Zombie (maintenance man Zombie who attacks Stephen in boiler room); Robert Williams, as a Soldier (in projects);

Production Team: George A. Romero, Director; George A. Romero, Writer; Claudio Argento, Associate Producer; Dario Argento, Producer; Alfredo Cuomo, Associate Producer; Richard P. Rubinstein, Producer; Dario Argento, Composer (original music); Goblin (members: Agostino Marangolo, Massimo Morante, Fabio Pignatelli), Composers (original music); George A. Romero, Composer (original music, Directors Cut); Claudio Simonetti, Composer (original music); Michael Gornick, Cinematographer; George A. Romero, Film Editor; John Amplas, Casting Director; Josie Caruso, Set Decorator; Barbara Lifsher, Set Decorator; Josie Caruso, Costume Design; Nancy Allen, First Makeup Assistant; Jeannie Jefferies, First Makeup Assistant; Zilla Clinton, Production Manager; Jay Stover, Unit Manager; Christine Forrest (Romero), Assistant Director Joseph EberleGraphic Artist; Tony Buba, Sound Recordist, Sound; Rick Dior, Sound Re-Recording Mixer; Robbie Williams, Boom Operator; Tom Savini, Makeup, Cosmetic Special Effects; Gary Zeller, Explosive Effects; Arthur J. Canestro, Optical Consultant; Leonard DeStefans, Stunt Driver; John Konter, Stunt Driver; Tom Savini, Stunts; Carl Scott, Stunt Driver; Taso N. Stavrakis, Stunts; Dario Argento, Script Consultant; Carl Augenstein, Lighting Design; Leslie Augenstein, Production Assistant; Ben Barenholtz, Distribution Consultant; Jim Barger, Mall Security; Barth Bartholomae, Helicopter Pilot; Don Berry, Explosive Effects; Dan Bertha, Grip; Jean Bertl, Title Designer; Piero Bozza, Assistant Editor (Italian Edition); Sharon Ceccatti, Production Assistant; James Chai, Title Designer; Francine Davidoff, Publicity Assistant; Kenneth Davidow, Assistant Editor; Margarida Delgado, Production Assistant; Diane Donati, Slate; Bradley Drumheller, Grip; Tom Dubensky, Assistant Camera; Charles Forman, Production Accountant; Cliff Forrest, Key Grip; Rene Furst, Publicist; Jos Gallardo, Title Designer; Clayton Hill, Weapons Coordinator; Ellen Hopkins, Casting Assistant; Katherine Kolbert, Still Photographer; Ed Letteri, Production Assistant; Karen Levy, Title Designer; Lenny Lies, Grip; Michael Lies, Casting assistant; Dan Lupovitz, Production Assistant; Agostino Marangolo, Musician; Antonio Marangolo, Musician: Saxophone; Michle Martin, Wardrober; Nicholas Mastandrea, Key Grip; Clayton McKinnon, Grip; Massimo Morante, Musician; Ken Nagin, Grip; Otto Paoloni, Technical Advisor; Alberto Piferi, Additional Dialogue: Italian Edition; Fabio Pignatelli, Musician; John Rice, Continuity; Donna Siegel, Assistant to Mr. Rubinstein; Daniel Silk, Grip; Claudio Simonetti, Musician; Vincent D. Survinski, Business Manager; Joe Violante, Advisor to Technicolor; Bill Wagner, Mall Liaison; Diane Westerman, Production Assistant;


  • Tom Savini, the make-up and cosmetic special effects artist for the movie, is seen in several bit roles, notably among them one of the leaders of the biker gang who is addressed as "Blades" for his use of sharp implements, and as the zombie who breaks the window of a truck before being shot by Roger with a revolver
  • The vaguely uplifting finale on the final cut of the film was not what Romero had originally planned. According to the screenplay, Peter was to shoot himself in the head instead of making a heroic escape. Fran would commit suicide by thrusting her head into the rotating blades of the helicopter's propeller. The credits would run over the shot of the helicopter's blades, until the end of the credit roll, when the engine winds down, implying that Fran and Peter would not have had enough fuel to escape. While no footage of this ending has made it to any of the special edition DVD releases, actor Ken Foree said in an interview that he remembers filming the alternate ending.
  • The specially-created head model which was to be used to film Fran's decapitation by the helicopter was instead used to film the infamous exploding head scene, early on in the film.
  • George A. Romero makes two cameos in this movie: as the director in the television studio and as the Santa Claus biker who is briefly visible in biker raid.
  • Christine Forrest Romero (George Romero's wife) makes a cameo as the director's assistant in the television studio.


External links

ja:ゾンビ (映画) sv:Dawn of the Dead de:Zombie (Film)


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