Dawn of the Dead (also known as George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead) is a 1978 American independent horror film, written and directed by George A. Romero. The film featured David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger and Gaylen Ross. It is the second in Romero's Living Dead series, preceded by 1968's Night of the Living Dead, and followed by Day of the Dead in 1985. Dawn of the Dead contains no characters or settings from its predecessor, and shows in larger scale the apocalyptic effects a zombie epidemic would have on society. In the film, a plague of unknown origin has caused the reanimation of the dead, who prey on human flesh. Several survivors of the outbreak barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall.
Dawn of the Dead was shot over approximately four months, from late 1977 to early 1978, in the Pennsylvania cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Monroeville. Its primary location is set in the Monroeville Mall. The film was made on a relatively modest budget estimated at US$650,000, and was a significant box office success for its time, grossing an estimated $55 million worldwide. Since opening in theaters in 1978, reviews for the film have been nearly unanimously positive.
In addition to three official sequels, the film has spawned numerous parodies and pop culture references. A remake of the movie premiered in the United States on March 19, 2004. Labeled a "re-imagining" of the original film's concept , several major themes, including the primary setting in a shopping mall, remain essentially the same. Cultural and film historians read significance into the film's plot, linking it to critiques of large corporations and American consumerism.
Following the scenario set up in the previous movie, the film depicts the United States of America struck by a pandemic of reanimated human beings, who now have no other desire than to feast on the flesh of the living. As in the previous film, the cause of the plague is not fully understood by the scientific community. Despite desperate efforts by the US Government and local civil authorities to control the situation, society has effectively collapsed and the remaining survivors seek refuge. Although several scenes show rural citizens and military fighting the zombies effectively, cities, with their high populations and close quarters, are essentially deathtraps. Increasingly infrequent sion and radio broadcasts imply that chaos is spreading throughout the country.
The film opens in the television studio of the fictional station, WGON in Philadelphia, where confusion reigns. Following some exposition— in which Stephen (David Emge), the station's traffic helicopter pilot, and his girlfriend Francine (Gaylen Ross) plan to steal the helicopter in order to escape the zombie threat — the plot turns to another of the film's protagonists, Roger (Scott H. Reiniger), as he and the rest of his SWAT team raid a tenement building because the largely Puerto Rican and black Caribbean residents are ignoring the martial law imposition of delivering the dead over to National Guardsmen and evacuating private dwellings.
The immigrants are slaughtered by the SWAT operatives and their own dead relatives, who emerge from their
rooms after being reanimated by the zombie infection. During the raid, Roger meets Peter (Ken Foree), part of another SWAT team, and the two go down to the apartment building's basement, where they meet a one legged priest who has just given the undead their last rites. They soon find the basement packed full of undead that the living residents had kept from being seized by the National Guard. After the two kill the zombies with shots to the head, Peter suggests they desert their SWAT team and flee the nightmarish city. Late that night, along with Francine and Stephen, they escape Philadelphia in the TV station's helicopter, with the intention of reaching the safety of the Canadian wilderness. Following some close calls while stopping for fuel, the group happens across a shopping mall, which they initially plan to use as a pit stop.
Leaving the small area of the mall they were using to rest, Peter and Roger decide to enter the main area of the mall to retrieve supplies. Stephen takes their last weapon and joins them, finding the schematic plans of the mall. After Stephen narrowly escapes a small group of the undead, one of the undead follows the direction Stephen came from, making his way toward the weaponless Francine. The men in the group trick the undead toward a department store, then escape through an elevator air shaft. They make it back to the hideout in time to save Francine, but in her shock she is immediately skeptical of their new idea to make the mall their own private sanctuary. Despite her objections, they press on. Their plan to make the mall safe for habitation is to block the large acrylic glass entrance doors with semi trucks to keep the undead gathered outside the mall from entering, then destroying the remaining undead inside with ammunition they acquire from the mall's gun shop. During the blocking of the mall entrances, the impulsive Roger acts recklessly, leading to him being bitten by one of the undead and confirming him — by the rules set in the previous movie — to a slow death and eventual reanimation. But he insists that he continue to help in clearing the mall.
After clearing the mall of its zombie inhabitants, the four settle in. Over the next few days, Roger slowly succumbs to the infection. When it is clear Roger is not going to survive the infection Peter orders the others out the room. Accepting his fate, Roger asks Peter to wait to kill him as he
wants to try "not to come back." He does reanimate, however, and Peter finishes his friend off.
The film skips ahead several months. Stephen has instructed Francine in piloting the helicopter. Francine was earlier revealed to be pregnant, and her appearance provides a rough estimate of the time that has passed, as she appears to be near the end of the second trimester. By this time, all emergency broadcast transmissions from the outside world have ceased entirely, though Stephen clings to the faint hope of another broadcast. Stricken with boredom, the novelty of their materialistic utopia wears thin.
One night, however, the three survivors refuse to answer a short wave radio call from a malevolent biker gang who know of their presence and are intent on looting. The bikers break into the mall, in the process letting in hundreds of the undead. Angered, Stephen interrupts their plunder and initiates a battle with the bikers. In the end, several
bikers and Stephen are bitten by zombies. Peter escapes unscathed. While Francine wants to flee immediately, Peter decides to wait to see if Stephen will return. Stephen quickly bleeds to death from a combination of gunshot wounds and zombie bites. Upon his reanimation, Stephen leads a large group of the undead toward Francine and Peter's hideout. After killing Stephen, Peter helps Francine escape to the roof but says he does not want to flee. At the last second, Peter decides against suicide and fights off the undead approaching him. He reaches the helicopter as Fran pulls away from the landing pad. The movies ends with the duo facing an uncertain future as they fly away from the mall at dawn in the low-fueled helicopter. As the credits roll, there are multiple shots of the once again zombie-infested mall.
Alternate help me
The vaguely uplifting finale in the final cut of the film was not what Romero had originally planned. According to the original 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 helicopter's propeller blades. The end credits would run over a shot of the helicopter's blades turning until the engine winds down, implying that Fran and Peter would not have had enough fuel to escape. During production it was decided, however, to end the movie on a more hopeful, upbeat note.
Much of the lead-up to the two suicides was left in the film, as Fran stands on the roof doing nothing as zombies approach, and Peter puts a gun to his head, ready to shoot himself with a Derringer before suddenly deciding to live and escape with Fran. While Romero has said the original ending was scrapped before being shot, behind the scenes photos show the original version was at least tested. 
- David Emge as Stephen Andrews (Flyboy): A helicopter pilot who gives traffic reports for the local station, WGON. He set the plot into motion by deciding to steal the helicopter and flee to the safest area they could find. He is inexperienced with firearms and combat tactics, which almost leads to his downfall on several occasions. By the end of the film, he has become very materialistic, leading to his gunfight with the looting bikers and his biting bitten and reanimated as a zombie who is soon after shot by Peter.
- Ken Foree as Peter Washington: a member of a local SWAT team, he is forced to take down an unruly and racist SWAT member on Roger's team. Afterward, he takes up an offer by Roger to flee with his friends Stephen and Francine. He is the first to suggest staying at the mall, since the group seems to have everything they need to settle down for a while. His grandfather, a native Trinidadian, was a voodoo priest that taught him the film's tagline: When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.
- Scott H. Reiniger as Roger DeMarco: Much like Peter, he is a member of the Philadelphia SWAT team. He is a smart man but often struggles with his temper. He is best friends with Peter due to their similar personalities. After several of his team members are killed or commit suicide while clearing out an apartment building, he decides to flee and take Peter along because of his handiness with weapons. During their attempts to lock up the mall, his recklessness leads to his being bitten by a zombie which ends with his demise.
- Gaylen Ross as Francine Parker: The girlfriend of Stephen who has recently discovered she is pregnant. She is the only one if the group who is initially repulsed by the idea of staying at the mall, hoping instead to continue their helicopter journey to Canada. She is initially unable to fend for herself, but learns how to shoot and fly the helicopter over the course of the film.
- David Crawford as Dr. Foster: A government employee of the OEP. He is interviewed by Mr. Berman in the film's opening scene and verbally spars with Berman and several crew members at the station for giving government orders that the citizenry disagree with.
- David Early as Mr. Berman: The lead interviewer at WGON. He is seen only during the opening segment before Francine and Stephen flee with the station's helicopter.
- Richard France as Dr. Millard Rausch: A scientist that works for the government whose abrasive personality and lack of empathy bring him at odds with the audience at his press conferences and interviews. He is a proponent of several controversial ideas, such as dropping nuclear weapons on all major cities to destroy the large congregation of undead there, and feeding the undead with preserved bodies over a course of time to keep them away from the living.
- Tom Savini as Blades:
- Taso Stavrakis as Sledge:
- Tony Buba as Pedro:
- Pasquale Buba as Serape:
- Larry Vaira as Mousey:
- Nick Tallo as Jack:
- Marty Schiff as Charlie:
- Howard Smith as the TV Commentator: A seemingly unwitting news anchor of a local television station. As the film progresses, the station's environment is increasingly unprofessional, and he is seen drinking from a bottle of hard liquor at one point. He is interviewing Dr. Rausch the last time the station is shown in the film as actively broadcasting.
- James A. Baffico as Wooley: An racist and out of control SWAT team member bent on eliminating all occupants of the apartment building, zombie or otherwise, he was shot by Peter when he couldn't be stopped.
- Rod Stouffer as Rod Tucker:
- In the 2006 film Dead and Deader they were discussion which film is better between Dawn of the Dead and its remake
- Tom Savini makes a cameo appereance as a Zombie version of Blades in Land of The Dead.
(in order of appearance)
|Roger||Scott H. Reiniger|
|Dr. Foster||David Crawford|
|Mr. Berman||David Early|
|TV Commentator||Howard Smith|
|Young Officer in Roof||Rod Stouffer|
|Old Priest||Jese Del Gre|
|Officer in Project Adaptations||Clayton McKinnion|
Officers at Police Dock
|Ted Bank||Patrick McCloskey|
|Randy Kovitz||Joe Pilato|
- Filming locations on IMDb
- Rotten Tomatoes reviews for Dawn of the Dead (1978)
- Living Corpse Interviews: James Gunn, "re-imagining" is mentioned an interview with the writer of Dawn of the Dead (2004)
- Dawn Of The Dead Script at Script-o-Rama
- ALTERNATE 'DAWN' ENDING SURFACES... KIND OF at Horrorexpress.com