- Movie Rating -

Dawn of the Dead (1979)

| May 24, 1979

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about George Romero’s zombie pictures is that he tries to take them seriously enough but still make them comic enough to be engaging.  Zombie pictures themselves are more or less limited in what can be done unless they bleed over into comedy, and often even that can be fatal.

Dawn of the Dead is probably the most successful attempt to do both.  Romero uses the power left to him by the fall of the production code (which was still in effect when he made Night of the Living Dead) to pack this movie with as much blood, brains and viscera as he possibly can, but he also realizes how silly a zombie apocalypse is and tries to formulate a film that is a commentary about the death of the American consumer.

Well known, are Romero’s problems with copywrites which kept him from making a direct sequel to Night of the Living Dead and so this film approximates that the zombies have taken over the world an that the remaining population is comprised most of survivors who are armed and dangerous.

After a particularly gory and unappetizing opening featuring a raid on an apartment building, the action moves to an indoor shopping mall where several survivors barricade themselves up with the mission of picking off all the zombies with assault rifles so that they can have the place all to themselves.  The reasoning is that there are enough supplies that the survivors can hole up here, possibly forever.

Why are the zombies in the mall?  Well, Romero’s script brilliantly surmises that the zombies flocked to the mall because the urge to shop was so ingrained in the American bloodstream that even a lack of bloodstream wouldn’t stop them.  The urge for the survivors to shop, not just for essentials, but just stuff that they want is so part of our consumerist nature that we won’t let a gaggle of over-populated ghouls stop us from shopping.  It’s a sad commentary, but it makes for one Hell of a good movie.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Horror