If you were allowed to only own one Zombie film, then this would have to be the one Romero’s finest hour – 1978′s Dawn of the Dead is single handily the best Zombie Film ever. The story follows two Philadelphia SWAT team members a TV traffic news reporter and his girlfriend as Society rapidly unravels due to a Virus epidemic which is turning the nations people into rabid man eating Zombies.
The film starts off in a TV studio trying to keep the news going as tv crew members decide to leave and get home to their loved ones. (watch for a cameo of George Romero as one of the stations directors!) Stephen the station’s traffic helicopter pilot and his girlfriend Fran plan to make a break for it that evening .
Meanwhile across town a Swat team raid a housing project building where the people refuse to leave their building for the emergency shelters and will not give up their dead but store them in the buildings basement , of course the swat team get over run by the undead and two of the team plan to meet with Stephen and Fran that night.
Watch closely when they go to refuel the copter and wait for the two Swat cops for Joseph Plato (who plays Captain Rhodes in the next Romero Zombie Movie Day of the Dead) as one of the rogue cops the couple encounters.
The foursome then flee Philadelphia in the chopper looking for some where to hold up. They stop to get supplies from a rural mall – where they decide that if they can block the mall doors, kill the existing Undead that are already in the mall then it might be a safe bet to hold up their until the apocalypse is over.
One of the key themes with most of Romero’s films is the social and politic statements it makes (and not just the gore!) and this film is seen by many as a statement on mindless consumerism (look at all the Zombies at the mall – ha ha geddit??)
While I remember this film mainly for the unraveling of society and the gore it is actually also a pretty humorous film. Famed Italian horror director Dario Argento actually did a “Italian Cut” of this film (yes its available on dvd) that is my more somber and serious with out the humorous little bits Romero threw in. Don’t get me wrong its no “Shaun of the Dead” or “Return of the living dead” but there is some humor in there.
Originally the film was going to have all of the 4 main survivors die but Romero’s wife talked him into leaving 2 of the survivors with a chance of a future.
I really don’t know why I am writing so much about what goes on in this film as I would like to think that EVERYBODY has seen this by now – if not definitely rent a copy tonight – well worth it.