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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 9.39%
Average: 2.76%
Pretty Bad: 4.97%
Total Crap: 8.84%

6 reviews, 145 user ratings

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Dawn of the Dead (1979)
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by MP Bartley

"There's a sale at Penneys! 25% off all lower intestines and entrails"
5 stars

When George Romero re-invigorated the zombie flick with his black and white nightmare classic, 'Night of the Living Dead', it was over a decade before he attempted a sequel. Wisely avoiding the pitfall of rushing out a by-the-numbers sequel, he bided his time until he had the right story. And this it, a perfect sequel, by which I mean he took what was great about the first magnified it and changed so it wasn't just a dull photocopy. Another, which judging by the current remake, is still a benchmark in horror.

So after the horribly cruel ending to 'Night of the Living Dead', mankind is still no closer to solving the problem of the zombie plague sweeping the globe. In fact things are worse. Cities are in panic and society is crumbling, while people flee their homes to try and find some kind of refuge. People such as tv journalist Franny (Gaylen Ross) and her chopper pilot boyfriend Stephen (David Emge). Taking the tv stations chopper they head to the skies pausing only to pick up Stephen's SWAT friend Roger (Scott H. Reiniger) and his disillusioned fellow SWAT Peter (Ken Foree).

Together the foursome head out until they come to an abandoned shopping mall, which when cleared of zombies would be the perfect shelter with provisions and shelter. Things don't go as smoothly as that obviously otherwise we'd be watching a peculiar end-of the-world sitcom.

My first viewing of 'Dawn of the Dead' was back as a 13 year old before my taste in film had developed, and my over-riding impression was "yawn". Since then my memory has always been of a pretty slow follow up to the tense brilliance of the first.

I couldn't have been more wrong. Having shamefully not re-watched it until just recently, I realised that I must have been confused by my hormone-addled teenage mind. 'Dawn of the Dead' is a superb build on the first, using all the effective tools of the first and creating something more expansive and more chilling.

At the end of 'Night...' there was a feeling that the authorities had got on top of the situation and the immediate threat was over. This couldn't be more wrong however. Romero takes great care to show us the panic setting into the big cities instead of merely being confined to the isolated farmlands. From a fraught tv station, full of employees running out in terror to an ethnic housing block refusing to release its dead, it's clear that this isn't a mere skirmish with the dead, it's now a full-scale war. It's a frantic opening that shows how Romero has developed as a director. Whereas 'Night' was limited to nervy hand-held shots of the zombies clawing at the farmhouse, 'Dawn' shows that Romero has grown huge hairy balls as an action director and the raid on the housing block comes across as a proto-Aliens dust-up. When scenes like this are later combined with expansive shots from the top of the mall, showing the zombie hordes milling about in the mall carpark, a chilling sense of finality is achieved. It's entirely plausible that our four heroes are the only humans left alive, and it's an unsettling vision of the end of the world.

Romero also has the confidence to take things onto a grander stage. Being set in a huge mall could have neutralised the tension entirely, but this simply widens the action and makes the tension more expansive. The humans may have more escape routes to run through, but there's also more places for a zombie to be lurking.

This also gives a chance for the characters to be better defined than their predecessors in 'Night'. With their only being four, there's no sense that they're only zombie fodder, so we're more caught up in their bid for survival because, simply...there's so few of them left. A lot of the power of 'Dawn' comes from the quieter moments where the humans enjoy the pleasures that the mall offers, be it a candle-lit supper for two or an ice-rink empty of annoying teenagers. And like 'Night', there's fine performances here from some generally unknown actors. Emge and Reiniger are both able suporting characters, but it's Ross and Foree who come off as the stronger characters, and who carry the film. It's a trick that Romero was unable to repeat for the limp 'Day of the Dead'.

You could mention the digs at consumerism that Romero has (zombies blindly wandering around the shops like Sunday shoppers), but that's to deny the simple pleasure of having an entire mall to yourself to run around shooting zombies up. Come on, who hasn't secretly wanted to do that?

Because despite my fuddled memory, 'Dawn of the Dead' is just action-packed as the first, although it takes a longer running time for the set-pieces to roll out. But by the end however, you'll be gnawing your knuckles as much as you were during the first, despite some over-blown action man heroic music. It very nearly descends into 'A-Team' silliness. But not quite thankfully.

Arguably, the zombies don't look as scary in colour as they do in black-and-white, and exactly how scary can a zombie be when you can throw a pie in his face and run away laughing? But despite this when they're lunging hungrily into a lift towards one trapped human at the end, you'll be uncomfortably reminded of the windows and doors splintering into dust in that farmhouse ten years previously.

'Dawn of the Dead' bears considerable comparison to the Alien quadrilogy. A tense, claustrophobic first was opened into a more ambitious, action-filled second and both stand as classics of the genre. However, the film-makers overplayed their hands in both cases coming up with third portions that were neither entertaining enough or scary enough. But at least Romero wisely knew it was time to quit after 'Day of the Dead'. But never mind, because no matter how lacklustre the third stage of his dead invasion was, it doesn't dislodge the disturbing, apocalyptic vision he displays here. It's a literal hell on earth.

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originally posted: 04/23/04 22:10:04
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell good but night of the living dead is better the 68 version of course 4 stars
3/24/14 Justin R. Not just the best zombie movie, but one of the best movies ever created. 5 stars
10/07/13 Nick Truly a perfect film, great characters, Especially Scott Reiniger's Roger. This is tops. 5 stars
8/06/12 Jeff Wilder Brilliant mix of satire and horror. A masterpiece. 5 stars
3/17/12 Silkworm Crap acting but who cares it still rocks 4 stars
12/29/11 David Hollingsworth Romero's stellar zombie magnum opus 5 stars
11/16/11 Golden J. Williams Jr. Scary to think about, fun to watch. 4 stars
6/12/11 art white zombie and zombie are the only Zombie flick's i've seen, i want to keep it thatway. 1 stars
7/06/10 art 1932's WHITE ZOMBIE,and lucio fulci's 1980 ZOMBIE,makes you forget about ROMERO"S FILM"S! 1 stars
6/03/10 User Name George A. Romero created the zombie flick with Night; he topped himself with Dawn. 5 stars
1/11/10 excitement love art is right zombie is a better ultra gore film 2 stars
12/26/09 Chad Dillon Cooper The Citizen Kane of horror films. Enuff said 5 stars
6/10/09 art said it before and i'll say it again,ONLY A ZOMBIE WOULD LOVE THIS JUNK! 1 stars
4/23/09 blah blah amazing zombie film 5 stars
4/02/09 action movie fan us against them-gorehound,s movie -silly more funny at times than scary 2 stars
12/19/08 Craig D. Lives up to its reputation as the best zombie movie ever made. 5 stars
1/09/08 art only for DEAD-HEAD"S 1 stars
11/04/07 Ivana Mann The Citizen Kane of horror films.Witty,scary & smart-they don't make em like this anymore! 5 stars
2/16/07 Joe Morris if i ever meet who stopped this guy from directing resident evil, i'll kick their ass 5 stars
1/08/07 Carlie and Katie OMG Great movie! we totally did a school project on the DEAD movies! AWESOME! 4 stars
12/05/06 Stanley Thai A very good film with scares and laughs. 4 stars
10/29/06 brandon This is by far the best zombie movie I have ever seen, remake sucked. 5 stars
10/25/06 Drew G Why does everyone say zombies shouldn't run... who said these are zombies? 5 stars
10/05/06 william c. none better 5 stars
10/01/06 Agent Sands Incredibly imaginative, spectacularly well-made epic sequel. 5 stars
9/23/06 David Pollastrini great make-up 4 stars
9/20/06 Pritchett The HOLY BIBLE of zombie films...and anyone who says otherwise is, simply, wrong. 5 stars
8/25/06 havthat There are so many layers to this movie, it's worth watching even if you're not into zombies 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Yet another horror classic to be owned!!!! 5 stars
8/02/06 dan one of the all time great horror films.must see 5 stars
7/17/06 mark claustrophic as hell-this movie stayed with me for months 5 stars
3/24/06 Dethbyhashi Great movie with some small flaws 4 stars
2/20/06 chris f a tue classic 5 stars
12/14/05 Steven Lewis Great Romero Film. A Must have for any collection. 5 stars
10/30/05 K. Sear Spectacular. Nothing else needs to be said. 5 stars
10/20/05 Eden Big empty and dull. I dont why this is considered a classic. NOTLD is much better 2 stars
9/23/05 Jethro In cut scenes Peter was really a bad guy who stole the swat uniform then murdered wooley 4 stars
8/23/05 Eden Overrated 3 stars
8/20/05 T-100 crap 5 stars
8/18/05 ES The original paved the way for the remake, I've seen both, the updated version is better 3 stars
8/06/05 Pierre Classic! 5 stars
8/01/05 Martin brilliant satire and commentary. forever a classic.cheesy effects only increased the realis 5 stars
7/28/05 Cooper I'm sure most people agree that the best part of this movie's when Wooley goes apeshit! 5 stars
7/26/05 manuel This was his best! 4 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Said to be a classic, actually truly amateurish trash. 1 stars
7/04/05 Ice Queen masterpiece 5 stars
6/26/05 DennyRoss I loved this one - cops & robbers for adults...with zombies!! 5 stars
6/25/05 Kankasaur Loved the remake, the original's different but no less cool 5 stars
4/25/05 Indrid Cold The cheesy look and music are quite annoying and the story is actually fairly ponderous. 3 stars
3/28/05 William It doesn't get any better. Loved it so much, I bought the collectors edition. GREAT! 5 stars
3/22/05 Uncle Phucker Thank goodness we have DVD to watch. The new re make was a goof. 5 stars
1/21/05 das hilarious!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/19/05 Stefan Halka Shallow characters, overlong, dull and just plain overrated. 3 stars
1/10/05 Lucas Stenz Great film, best sequel I can think of 5 stars
11/14/04 Diana Popescu Waist of time, put me to sleep 1 stars
11/12/04 American Slasher Goddess One of the best zombie movies ever. 5 stars
11/07/04 J.D. No real fan could actually like this boring flick. A great idea that was wasted! 1 stars
11/04/04 Lord Durvok 2 One of the best horror films ever. This is not an opinion. 5 stars
10/31/04 asina almost perfect. 5 stars
10/28/04 fagabeefy cool flick , the make-up effects sucked hard though 2 stars
10/25/04 Ric A decent apocalyptic vision, but it's not scary, thrilling, or even particularly funny. 2 stars
10/21/04 Kevin it was ok, but not horror 2 stars
9/24/04 RiverRat Truly a great film - not for morons who only want "splatter-porn" crappola. A classic. 5 stars
9/15/04 yo amazing 5 stars
9/14/04 Shane snell this movie was grate i really like it 5 stars
9/03/04 me satire for the smart guts for the layman 5 stars
6/24/04 Neil Simple, Silly, Low Budget, Mediocre and Incredibly Magnificent 5 stars
5/24/04 sherone rose i loved dawn of the dead and its cast they were brilliant 5 stars
5/05/04 lewis hall all time classic. they dontmake flims like that no more iz romero got out new?????/ 5 stars
5/01/04 dead next door CLASSIC 4 stars
4/19/04 Josh are you people serious? this is so cheesy its unwatchable, worst zombies ever 1 stars
4/18/04 Father Merrin There is only 1 zombie movie & this is it! A true classic. A re-make is unnecessary! 5 stars
4/13/04 Adam D just seen this late night a few days ago and thot it was insanely good. 5 stars
4/10/04 American Slasher Goddess One of the best zombie movies ever. 5 stars
4/08/04 Eloise sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better than the crappy 04 remake. 5 stars
4/06/04 glenn good movie, new one is better, also try phantasm!! 5 stars
4/01/04 tediboy this classic is still the BEST!!! 5 stars
3/29/04 true review - correct review everytime notld is masterpiece because it wasn't written by romero, his movies suck 1 stars
3/23/04 Morally Sound My second favorite movie of all time. The best in the Living Dead Trilogy! 5 stars
3/21/04 Samuel don't know if its better than Night of the Living Dead, but its still a damn good movie 5 stars
3/20/04 truth zombies are cheesy, movie is pretty boring, not scary, NOTLD is much better 2 stars
3/14/04 Jack Sommersby An innovative masterpiece. Nothing's ever come even close. 5 stars
3/13/04 Carl This movie KICKS ASS!! 5 stars
3/11/04 Robin Flores This was a disturbing movie along the lines of Edgar Allen Poe's Masque of the Red Death. 5 stars
2/13/04 Kai A total classic. 5 stars
1/24/04 Elena At least it's honest about being a cheesy zombie flick, and doesn't try to be smug... 1 stars
1/16/04 Kimberly Lynn Cole ROGER RULES!!!! I LOVE SCOTT REINIGER what a cutie pie!!!! 5 stars
1/15/04 Matt A great cult classic!! One of my favorites 5 stars
12/07/03 Richard Long Best Horror Movie Ever Made 5 stars
12/05/03 Makaveli greatest movie eva made - Hands down! 5 stars
11/29/03 chris k my fav movie of all time 5 stars
11/27/03 John well it's simply of the best horror movies ever made 5 stars
11/02/03 American Slasher Goddess The best zombie movie ever. 5 stars
10/20/03 zombie lover dude this movie is awsome!!!!!! love the spfx!!!!! 5 stars
10/06/03 Jack Sommersby Original and brilliant. Standout set piece after standout set piece. Grade A stuff. 5 stars
8/14/03 Johnny P Awesome zombie flick. You go George! 5 stars
8/03/03 bronson fantastic 5 stars
7/04/03 Dave Hopman Bring on the fourth Dead Movie, George!! 5 stars
6/18/03 Jim Myers I saw this Masterpiece when I was 14...I will be 37 in August, and I still think it is The 5 stars
5/25/03 Scott(first watched when 5) Night:67% - Day:45% & Dawn:93% "Complete Masterpeice" 5 stars
5/05/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik I saw the Director's Cut. Brilliant. 5 stars
4/12/03 William Stewart Has to be on my top 5 best horror films--Good Stuff George! 5 stars
1/17/03 mans0n i dont think i will ever be able to get the music played inside the mall out of my head! 5 stars
1/13/03 Stevo stunningly evocative and creates a unique picture. beyond horror 5 stars
12/29/02 Jack Sommersby One of the best. Brilliantly realized and executed. 5 stars
10/26/02 Charles Tatum The sequels were better than the first one 5 stars
10/01/02 murat Good film but what was about that raid on apartment at the beginning huh? 5 stars
9/22/02 Morally Sound George Romero + Tom Savini = A+ Horror Movies 5 stars
8/14/02 palaboy101 George Romero, you're the best! 5 stars
7/12/02 .Choadushouse. This movie really just licked balls (maybe good for laughs)...and so does the original! 2 stars
4/25/02 Phoenix Not a classic at all. Horrible movie and terrible acting. Stick with the original. 1 stars
4/03/02 Edfink Lombardo A masterpiece of horror...Wonderfully atmospheric. Delivers the goods with consistency! 5 stars
2/09/02 Ebony One of the best...I heard that BeaconPictures is remaking this. Hope they don't ruin it. 5 stars
1/04/02 Jake Trashy, not funny or scary. All I got was gore and a hate for people. 1 stars
12/15/01 Peter Herman shocking... not because of the gore but because of the analogy made... 5 stars
12/09/01 Keith Up there with Evil Dead, The Shining and Dead Alive as greatest horror film 5 stars
11/03/01 Mike J I still haven't been brave enough to revisit the one movie that scared/scarred me as a kid! 5 stars
9/30/01 Mohammad J. Indeed fucking awesome 5 stars
8/07/01 palaboy THIS IS THE BEST HORROR MOVIE, PERIOD. 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk The only good mall is a 'dead' one. This movie kicks ass and takes names. Foree is the man. 5 stars
7/19/01 Ted Villavicencio This movie is the reason i loved the horror genre! One of the greatest zombie flicks ever! 5 stars
6/30/01 Zombie In the not too distant future. 5 stars
6/23/01 Ian Barr Brilliant. Satirical and Wild. 5 stars
6/20/01 Elvisfan Great frigging B-movie; if you didn't like it, keep it to yourselves 5 stars
6/19/01 Xx-Bull-xX Not only does the movie rock, but the soundtrack kicks ass! 5 stars
6/15/01 zombie one of the best horror films ever made 5 stars
6/05/01 Just like a Wop . . . Saw this last fall and was completely engaged. Wonderfully dreary. 5 stars
3/26/01 Atir 2,000 Zombies bite the dust,in a mall of all places!Horrible makeup job,wardrobe&acting 1 stars
10/16/00 The Bomb 69 campy and funny, i laughed throughout 5 stars
10/14/00 B.J. Charles This movie is one of the most interesting zombie films I have ever watched. 5 stars
7/03/00 DAVID This is truly the best horror film ever made!!!! 5 stars
5/03/00 PJ Even better than the first, absolutely scary, funny, smart, and brilliant, Romero's best 5 stars
4/12/00 Adrian Pickworth One of my all-time faves! 5 stars
11/14/99 J. Shopa Absolutely the best movie ever 5 stars
9/20/99 Travis D'Souza This is the best fucking movie I have ever seen. 5 stars
8/11/99 Japtalian One of the best zombie movies ever. Soundtrack is eerie. 5 stars
7/18/99 Eric Would be a lot better if the action scenes weren't so badly choreographed 3 stars
7/05/99 David Keech A complete gore-fest. Absolutely hilarious if you recognize the satire. 4 stars
6/28/99 Steve Bashakus This is the best horror film ever made - the yardstick by which all things are measured. 5 stars
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  10-Apr-1979 (NR)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004

  02-Jul-1979 (18)

  02-Jul-1979 (R)

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