Home > Movie, Review > Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Wounded head rising from the horizon.Summary:
The zombie uprising has struck, and chances of survival are looking dire.  Two American soldiers, a newscaster, and a helicopter pilot go on the lam looking for a place to hole up and hopefully survive.  They find it in a classic suburban mall, but how long will they be able to hold off the hordes–not just of zombies, but of other survivors?

Review:
This Romero classic is the follow-up to Night of the Living Dead (review).  Some similar themes may be found–holding off both the zombies and fear–but new ones exist as well, such as the danger presented by groups of other survivors.  Perhaps most interestingly, the question of how much does this apocalypse create a new world and how much of the old world should be held onto.

The beginning sequence in this film is less strong than in the previous one.  It is jumbled and confusing as we land right in the middle of the uprising, as opposed to at the beginning of it.  Everyone is talking at once, and it takes the viewer a bit to get acclimated.  Additionally, the scene in which the soldiers are introduced is confusing.  Plot-wise, it makes perfect sense, but logically, it makes no sense why the people the soldiers are going after are refusing to kill the zombies.  It does not seem like it should even be a problem, and yet it is.  This hesitance at killing zombies as if they were still people is present throughout the film.  Perhaps this reflects the ideals of the 1970s, but as a modern-day woman, I was completely unable to relate.

After the opening scenes, however, the story quickly picks up.  The four main characters are all well-rounded and interact well together.  Moving the plot to the mall was a brilliant choice on Romero’s part.  Much could be said about the commentary on the zombie movements through a shopping center, relentlessly wandering, up and down, around and around, surrounded by consumerism.  In fact, after the opening scenes, the entire film seems to be a commentary on consumerism.  Characters get into trouble when they want too much or try for too much.  In any case, the scenes of zombies wandering through the mall are incredible and clearly became iconic for a reason.

The concept of being able to have fun in the middle of a zombie uprising shows up here.  The characters run around the mall, blasting zombies, looting, learning to shoot, and more, and mostly seem to have fun doing so.  The distress mostly comes from boredom and feeling trapped, not so much from the zombies themselves.  This theme is certainly its own special section of zombie stories.  There are the stories that focus on the virus and the being eaten alive, and then there are the stories that focus on being trapped.

The special effects are dismal.  In fact, they are worse than in a black and white film because in color, it’s easy to see that the colors are off.  Obvious face-paint is used on the zombies.  Incredibly fake-looking blood that flows too slowly is present throughout the film.  One does wonder why they couldn’t at least get realistic-looking blood.

Overall, although the reasons this became iconic are abundantly evident, I still did not fall in love with it.  The plot was rather meandering, followed-up by a cliche ending, and there were portions that were just too illogical to suspend disbelief.  It is a fun watch for fans of zombies curious to see how they have developed over time, and it is those people to whom I recommend it.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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