Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Though ten years had passed since Night of the Living Dead was released, Dawn of the Dead picks up right where Night left off. Though no real sense of time is presented, we are given the sense that the Zombie epidemic is still a VERY new one and humanity is doing a poor job of handling the situation.
This time, we are shown the story through the eyes of four people who escape the city of Philidelphia which has, by now, become overrun with the living dead and hole up in a shopping mall. Again, as with Night of the Living Dead, a simple plot summary does not do this film justice. Being the definative horror film of the 70's, many focus solely on the gore elements, which there are plenty of to focus upon. However, to see this is to miss the point of the story entirely. Once again, Romero addresses the current socially relevant theme of rampant consumerism, greed, racism and man's inhumanity to man and wraps them so delicately in the fibres of fiction that they are overlooked by many.
The notion that even the undead feel compelled towards the mall, despite the lack of "food" is a chilling endictment on our own materialism. Add to this the effect this mall has on our human characters and we are shown that, in the end, all that seems to matter is protecting the mall, even at the expense of their own lives. As the character Stephen remarks during a looting attempt by a gang of rogue bikers "It's ours, we took it!"
Many might find the pace of this film to be relentlessly slow. There are only basically three scenes anyway and a great deal of interspersed dialogue. In fact, there is actually more character dialogue in this film than there is gore, zombies or "boo!" moments. Of course, this is what makes this a compelling film. It is a horror film that strives to me much more than that and succeeds.
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