DAWN OF THE DEAD (zombie; zombies) (1978 U.S.) D/W: GEORGE A. ROMERO P: DARIO ARGENTO/RICHARD P. RUBINSTEIN
Romero's sequel to his 1968 classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD begins where it left off. The living dead are now beginning to swamp the world (or at least America). Emergency network stations urge citizens to head towards major cities and martial law is declared. Four people (David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger and Gaylen Ross) attempt to find a safehaven by escaping in a helicopter. They eventually hole up in a mall in Pittsburgh and we chart their process as they avoid and kill zombies while scavenging from the department stores. DAWN is less serious than it's predecessor, with colourful gore FX (courtesy of Tom Savini) and humour. It's attempts at satirizing mall culture and modern American values are crude but mildly effective. The actors playing the zombies seem to be having a lot of fun stumbling around to muzak. There's even an undead Hare Krishna! A biker gang (led by Savini) turn up near the end to ruin everything and only Foree and Ross escape. As well as numerous cinema, video and tv edits, there are two official versions. Romero's edit (which is longest at around 140 mins) and producer and script supervisor Argento's which is considerably shorter but features alternate, extra gore footage. It's pretty good, but not quite the classic some will have you believe. The major problem (in any version) is overlength. The music is by Argento and Goblin. Romero can be spotted near the beginning at a tv station (and his wife Christine Forrest's in there as well). John Amplas (MARTIN) did the casting. I am of the (unpopular) opinion that the next entry, DAY OF THE DEAD is more interesting. Remade in 2004.

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