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Dawn of the Dead (1978) Retro Talk; Grade: B

Happy Halloween to all our readers and movie goers this year! Hoping everyone has had a fun time at Pumpkin Patches, Haunted Houses, Halloween Themed Parties, and also had fun venturing out Scary Movies in the theater or at home with friends, family, and loved ones this Holiday Season.

Welcome to another edition of Retro Talk! Today we’ll be talking a classic Zombie film from 1978 from George A. Romero Dawn of the Dead! Dawn of the Dead was released in the states April 13th 1979, working with a budget of $640,000, generating $66 million earning a whopping profit of over $65 million. Dawn of the Dead is critically acclaimed and has been a staple of horror for over forty plus years now.

Dawn of the Dead is centered around an apocalyptic world, as there is a growing epidemic of zombies continue to rise and rise amongst the world. Here we have four main characters: A couple named Stephen (David Emge) and Francine (Gaylen Ross), and a couple of S.W.A.T. team members Roger (Scott H. Reiniger) and Peter (Ken Foree). These characters embark a helicopter journey to a mall, where they’ll be encountered by many zombies. The characters seem to really enjoy the mall setting, as it’s filled with tons of useful supplies such as food and ammo. As they wish to settle in: They’ll have to create an effective way, to lure the zombies out of the mall so they can continue their stay at the mall as they camp out till this thing blows over.

I’m not going to lie… I wasn’t expecting Dawn of the Dead to be such a chill and relaxing kind of film. Dawn of the Dead surely has zombies to offer, as they’re are some horrific moments that do consist of gore here and there… But it’s mostly just a group of characters, whom lucked out of acquiring an abandoned mall filled with useful supplies, as they just have a grand ole time with their circumstance. It is said while watching an episode on Red Letter Media, that George A. Romero was walking into a mall as he had an idea centering a zombie film around that simple setting.

Dawn of the Dead may not be a grand wild spectacle that I assumed it was going to be, however I found the film simply enjoyable and can see why this film would come towards a liking amongst not only horror fans, but even film buffs especially.

In terms of Zombie Horror: This is reasonably tamed, delivering some fairly executed moments. Most cases of Zombie Horror genre, you feel it can be a bit excessive by not just the gore itself, but even the Zombies as the last thing you would want to see is over the top obnoxious dead beings. Here the zombies do come off a bit goofy as it’s just people with makeup, walking fairly slowly, however I found it quite enjoyable and even delivered on some horror sequences. 

Whether it be the zombies consuming the flesh of the humans or the zombies being killed by the humans… It was certainly entertaining. I will say the first main sequence, when the S.W.A.T team encounters an apartment like complex was easily the best sequence, as it delivered some great zombie like sequences, including a blown up head which that was awesome to experience. I do enjoy the killing sprees at the mall, even the grand finale featured with a biker gang was genuinely enjoyable to watch even if it was a bit silly much with the pies and especially the heart rate machine.

The story at hand was fairly written and kept it firmly simple. I like the whole sequence where the two main characters from the S.W.A.T, created an effective way to lure the zombies away from entering the mall, so they can have the mall all to themselves without any worries at hand. It was a well drawn up plan, the sequence at hand was very crucial to execute as one member had to take a nasty dive.

This film was shown in a 3-D setting, as I gotta say… The 3-D effects was actually worth it and not a total waste of time. I feel the best usage of the 3-D experience would be glass breaking, the tennis ball bouncing back and forth off the wall, and even when the human intestines being ripped apart from the zombies.

I feel one could criticize that Dawn of the Dead isn’t the most exciting zombie film they’ve ever experience, since it’s mostly centered around human beings thoroughly enjoying themselves at a mall during a zombie apocalypse. While understandable, however at the same time… It’s still thoroughly enjoyable film that can be described as therapeutic and like hearted as well. It’s a film based around a simple idea and premise, that was fairly executed, generated likable characters, and delivered some fun in the mix… Really hard to be angry at that I would say.

Overall, Dawn of the Dead (1978) was a solid film as you can understand the classic status film lovers have for it. I recommend checking this one out, if you do have a chance to see it at a theater please do, the theatrical experience was thoroughly peaceful as everyone had a nice time. -Mitch Smietana

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