As zombies - dead people who have come back to life to kill & eat off the
living so they can come back to life as zombies, too - a foursome of people -
cops Roger (Scott H.Reiniger) & Peter (Ken Foree), TV-producer Fran (Gaylen
Ross) & her boyfriend Steven (David Emge), decide to make an escape per
helicopter, looking for a safe haven for themselves.
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But when they look onto the ground from their bird's eye view, they see the
zombies overrunning the coun tryside, too, with many rednecks taking up
zombie-shooting as a new form of entertainment. Then though our quartet happens
to come to a mall, and, landing on the roof of the building, they soon realize
the advantages of using it as a hiding place: Sonme rooms offering sufficient
food supply can be completely barricaded off the rest of the building, and the
zombies won't even know of their presence - & zombies inside the mall there
are many, as they thanks to some residual memory have this impulse that htey
have to go to the mall even after death.
Of course, at first everything seems fine & dandy for our quartet, but
soon greed sets in, & Roger & Peter decide to loot some stores despite
the zombie hordes - which almost ends in desaster as soon a zombie finds a way
to their hideout & attacks & almost kills Fran, whom Steven had left
behind unarmed when he went looking for the others.
After she is saved & revealed to be pregnant, our survivors think of
another strategy to defend themselves & come up with the idea to move
trucks in front of the mall-doors to shut them off of the outside (which should
hold as long as the zombies can't drive trucks). Unfortunately though, Roger
grows overconfident & gets bitten by a few zombies when their task is yet
only half finished - & it should be noted that noone survives a zombie-bite
more than 3 days.
To completely shut off the mall, our group decides to close the remsining
doors from the inside, using a car standing on display for a prize draw, then
they start killing all the zombies inside the mall (by a shot in the head),
finally making the mall an oasis of peace (in case you wonder, the zombies'
corpses are put into a giant freezing room so they won't start to rot.
Days of luxury & abandon now start for our 4 heroes, as they now have a
big mall all for themselves, & noone can prevent them from taking whatever
But this paradise comes to an end way too soon when Roger dies of his
zombie-bites & Peter has to shoot him when he returns as a zombie.
that wasn't enough, their oasis is also threatened from the outside as a gang
of bikers (among them Tom Savini) have decided to loot the place themselves, & they move the
to get in ... but if they can get in, so can the zombies, & soon it
culminates in a fight zombies versus bikers, which our remaining trio - instead
of staying put & wait for it to blow over - joins in as a 3rd party. In the
end, the zombies win over the bikers, & Steven dies & becomes one of
them ... & he knows the way to their hideout, & Peter & Fran can
escape only just ... to no better future.
Despite the fact that Dawn of the Dead is a semi-sequel to Romero's Night
of the Living Dead, made 9 years earlier, & which was a genuine classic
in its own right, this is the movie that started it all, as in the late
70's/early 80's almost everyone - but especially the Italians - seemed to be
producing ever gorier zombie-movies, & at least one director's career got a
new lease of life- that being Lucio Fulci's, whose fake sequel to Dawn of
the Dead, the definitely inferior but highly entertaining Zombi 2
(aka Zombie Flesh Eaters), allegedly became an even bigger worldwide
moneymaker than its predecessor, & who soon started making zombie- &
gore-movies almost exclusively.
However, Dawn of the Dead does stay clear of repeating Night
of the Living Dead's tried & true formula and has higher aspirations than
to be just another shocker, as it clearly veers into the fields of social
satire & is at times rather wickedly funny - though in a macabre way -
using the zombies as no more than a metaphor for happy consumers (Peter best
sums it up in one scene when he answers to the question why the dead would come
to the mall: "They are us."), & even those who survive have no
higher aspirations as to better sooner than later become happy consumers again
- & they would even kill (in that case, the bikers) to defend their status
quo - which they have achieved by stealing in the first place, it should be