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Dawn of the Dead (1979)

tomatometer

95

Average Rating: 8.5/10
Reviews Counted: 37
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 2

One of the most compelling and entertaining zombie films ever, Dawn of the Dead perfectly blends pure horror and gore with social commentary on bourgeois society.

60

Average Rating: 6.3/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 2

One of the most compelling and entertaining zombie films ever, Dawn of the Dead perfectly blends pure horror and gore with social commentary on bourgeois society.

audience

90

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 203,368

My Rating

Movie Info

Director George A. Romero's epic sequel to his legendary Night of the Living Dead has firmly established itself as the equal of its ground-breaking predecessor. Though shot in 1978 -- ten years after the first films' release -- Dawn's story begins as if the events in Night had happened only a few months before: after shambling armies of the recently-dead take over every major city -- seeking warm human flesh for food -- the U.S. government imposes a state of martial law, sending in special

Sep 7, 2004

United Film Distribution Compa

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All Critics (37) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (2) | DVD (29)

Romero's script is banal when not incoherent.

October 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety | Comments (10)
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Romero's sensibility approaches the Swiftian in its wit, accuracy, excess, and profound misanthropy.

March 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (3)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Undoubtedly the zombie movie to end 'em all.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dawn of the Dead is one of the best horror films ever made -- and, as an inescapable result, one of the most horrifying. It is gruesome, sickening, disgusting, violent, brutal and appalling.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (5)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Perhaps horror-movie buffs will consider this an improvement.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (17)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Cynical, devastating and relentless, director George A Romero's gruelling masterpiece about the American Dream turning into a terrifying nightmare is a brilliant blend of black comedy and hip, if harrowing, carnage.

October 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

This sequel to Night of the Living Dead (1968) abandoned the shadowy black-and-white creepiness of its progenitor in favor of a brightly lit color canvas that was bigger, broader, and bloodier.

July 23, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinefantastique
Cinefantastique

Romero's framing of social ills via his rotting, walking metaphors is ingenious but it's the more subtle, unspoken statements that register with the greatest force.

October 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

This is both a fine straight-up horror and an archly sly comment on consumer society.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

Romero, who was his own editor this time out, keeps the scenes clipped and purposeful.

July 29, 2007 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

In a rare league of ingenious horror films that are utterly timeless...

July 10, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Dawn of the Dead abandons easy scare tactics in favor of a darkly satirical assault on bourgeois culture, traditional notions of masculinity, and rampant consumerism.

March 29, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

I still get queasy thinking about the biker and the blood pressure machine!

April 15, 2005
Nolan's Pop Culture Review

Romero's apocalyptic vision looks more like prophecy than fiction.

November 11, 2004 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

Grim, gruelling but beautifully shot, this is intelligent, sophisticated horror.

November 10, 2004 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Classic zombie comedy-drama

October 11, 2004
7M Pictures

Dawn of the Dead's most unsettling aspect is in how it shows us how little we've changed as a culture.

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Upon a second viewing, Dawn of the Dead is still just as scary and just as relevant (more so than the remake).

March 29, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

For my money, John Carpenter's Halloween, released the same year, is smarter, sharper, and more influential.

March 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central | Comments (3)
Film Freak Central

Essential, but overrated horror opus.

December 4, 2003 | Comments (4)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A near-perfect blend of horror, gore and action

November 21, 2003
Lawrence Journal-World

Audience Reviews for Dawn of the Dead

George A. Romero's sequel to the game changing mega-hit "Night of the Living Dead," this film has the same political undertones, and also subtle ruminations in consumer culture. Unlike the original, this film only deals with the exploits of four people, who trap themselves inside a mall and live off its resources. The original was much more about the epidemic, and the terror of ghouls rampaging through the wilderness. The urban setting shows the vacancy of man-made structures without human residency, and the ease with which we as Americans consume and find pleasure in spaces such as malls. Our heroes fall back into lives of luxury and convenience, though they are faced with horrors, because they are programmed to do so, as are the zombies who return to the mall based on their baser instincts. Riveting to watch because of how massive and impressive the film is, but also for the creativity of the story, "Dawn of the Dead" is a classic zombie film that tells a very human story.
July 29, 2014
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

Some say this is Romero's best work. Me, well, I'm undecided. This is an excellent film though, and not just in horror circles. You can never go wrong with intelligent social commentary and satire, especially when mixed with great (albeit somewhat dated) gore effects.

Despite coming out a decade after Night of the Living Dead, this sequel treats things as if only a few days or so have passed. In that time, the zombie outbreak has become incredibly widespread. A group of survivors (a diverse lot professionally, racially, and genderwise) take refuge in a shopping mall where they barricade themselves in and kick all zombies (and others) out.

This is where the film gets interesting. The mall is a larger setting than the previous film's farmhouse, but is still a great place full of all sorts of possibilities and claustrophobia. What I find really interesting is how this film is a satire/social commentary railing against malls, consumerism, and greed, and came out at a time when shopping malls were really new to the world.

I love that this films is a brilliant blend of humor, satire, gore, and zombies. Humor is not the focus, but the levity is a necessary element that provides a unique spin on the zombie apocalypse stuff.

I can't really think of anything this film gets wrong. The direction, performances, makeup/sfx, music, and camerawork are all terrific. I did say that the effects are dated, but in a way, their garishness actually adds to the atmosphere and enhances the mood, satire, and 70s decor.

This is an essential film in multiple categories, so don't hesitate to check it out.
June 27, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

In 1968, director George A. Romero made his directorial debut with the - now infamous - zombie horror film "Night Of The Living Dead". At the time, it was considered the ultimate gore-fest and has since spawned numerous imitations. Not many have achieved the same standard of that classic zombie movie but Romero himself released this follow-up, ten years later, in 1974 and arguably, it's as good as (if not better than) his debut.
The epidemic of zombies, who have risen from the dead and are now walking the earth, continues as four survivors of the zombie plague take refuge in a deserted shopping mall. They decide to stay longer than they thought and try to hatch a plan to escape somehow but with the arrival of a gang of militant bikers their security is compromised.
Less of a sequel and more of a remake to "Night Of The Living Dead", this film benefits from an ingenious and very memorable conceit; four people barricaded in a huge shopping mall while the undead lurk and prey outside. It allows itself to be an allegory of consumerism with a clever and highly satirical approach. It contains an occasional humorous nature but the overall terrifying premise is never compromised. Some of this humour even comes unintentionally, due to it's cheap budget and sub-par special effects - the blood used looks like vibrant, red, children's poster paint. However, the low budget only adds to the overall authentic feel and despite it bordering on the ridiculous, Romero's skill still shines through. His use of tension is excellently delivered, simply by using an extensive series of cuts. Each action sequence is edited in such a way that it is nothing less than highly skilful filmmaking and with Romero assuming both director and editor credits, he deserves the utmost respect. A more sophisticated audience may balk or snicker at the budgetary constraints and abysmal acting but really, it doesn't matter. The material is so good and handled with such skill that it overshadows any lack of worth or imperfections.
In this particular sub-genre, bad acting and bad effects would normally make for a bad movie but in this instance, that's not the case. Romero is a master of his craft and this is evidence enough to prove so. A hugely enjoyable, and one of the best, post-apocalyptic zombie flicks.
November 28, 2012
MrMarakai

Super Reviewer

I know, I know, I know. Being the self-proclaimed "horror buff" that I am, I should have already seen this film. In fact, Romero's sequel to the masterful "Night of the Living Dead" should have been at the very top of my must see list many moons ago. Yet, due to the legion of horror fans who unremittingly declare this film's divinity, I frankly got sick of hearing about it. However, I finally decided to just give it a roll and I am very,very glad that I did.

Much like other great creators of science fiction and horror - such as the stunning Stephen King - director George Romero focuses not so much on the terror itself, but rather on how a select number of humans respond to said terror. In this America now teeming with the unwanted undead, Romero shows how different personalities use the calamity to either justify their quest for power, bask in their desire to dominant another group of people, live out their consumerist fantasies, or simply quench their thirst for violence.

At times the film feels like a documentary on human behavior. This is evidenced by certain scenes such as the one in which Romero follows a group of bumpkins who quickly gather, whip out some Bud Lights, and use this hoard of zombies for target practice. Also, he spends a significant amount of time showing some of the survivors, who in the midst of fighting off a murder of zombies, get their rocks off by snagging up all the goods they can grab in a department store.

Romero also uses this film as a scathing indictment of the living. He uses small touches to illuminate the self-centeredness of humans during a time when they are in theory, supposed to be banding together. For example, when an innocent policeman asks our protagonists for a cigarette - a brief bit of comfort in all of this bedlam - they all deny having any. However, once they leave the policeman's company, their hands search for their open packs and shamelessly light up. And this is the group of people that we are supposed to be rooting for!

Romero also shows how much energy is used to build up this consumer-based economy by showing that even in death, it will be nearly impossible to ignore the lure of shopping malls. One character sums it up well when asked about why the undead are flocking to the mall, he replies because of "Some kind of instinct. Memory of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives."

Oh, did I fail to mention that this is also a very effective Zombie film? The visual effects are stunning, even if they haven't aged incredibly well. And the human meat, much liked slow-cooked ribs, look like they are sliding right off the bone. Tom Savini, who has a bit part, really outdid himself here.

While not "scary" by today's standards, Dawn of the Dead packs quite a heavy punch. Much unlike the brainless creatures that haunt this film, Dawn of the Dead is smart, well-executed, and George Romero chews on some very interesting observations on the human condition.

Now forgive me for I must be off. I have to go join my new legion....
October 25, 2012
axadntpron
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

    1. Peter: When they is no more room in hell the Dead will walk the earth.
    – Submitted by Matthew B (49 days ago)
    1. Peter: When there is no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth.
    – Submitted by Karen M (23 months ago)
    1. Roger: We got this man, we got this by the ass!
    – Submitted by Alex W (2 years ago)
    1. Roger: Bastards, you bastards! We got 'em, didn't we? We got this, man! We got this by the ass!
    – Submitted by Bria M (2 years ago)
    1. Peter: When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.
    – Submitted by Rocky F (2 years ago)
    1. Dr. Foster: It gets up and kills! The people it kills get up and kill!
    – Submitted by Andy W (2 years ago)
View all quotes (11)

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