Dawn of the Dead is a zombie horror film directed by the legendary George A. Romero. It is the second installment in Romero’s critically acclaimed Night of the Living Dead series. This is my personal favorite of the series, which is why it is included in this list as opposed to the other films. The film follows a small group of survivors of a massive viral outbreak, who barricade themselves inside a shopping mall.
Dawn of the Dead sees the return of Tom Savini to this list as a special effects artist. Savini is a master at what he does, and this is the film that really kicked off his famous career. There are countless amounts of famous shots from this film that show off the groundbreaking effects, such as the headshot scene at the start, to the helicopter zombie scene. The zombies also donned the classic clue/grey skin tone makeup that made such an impact on the industry as well. While this is a zombie movie, this also explores some heavy social issues such as mass consumerism and a materialistic society. Using the mall as the setting for this film was not only a stroke of genius, but it is also one of the main reasons Dawn of the Dead has sustained the test of time. This is also one of the most important films when it comes to pushing the boundaries of gore and violence on screen. There was a film genre that was quite the craze in the 80’s which was the “slasher” or “splatter” genre, which simply showcased the extreme violence and brutality that could be put in their film. Due to Dawn of the Dead‘s popularity and its brutal violence, it paved the way for the “slasher/splatter” genre to take hold of audiences just a few short years later.
Dawn of the Dead is one of the best zombie films ever made, and one of the most important horror films ever made. Romero’s work has influenced numerous filmmakers since his Night of the Living Dead series began in 1968. Dawn of the Dead was also remade in 2004, directed by Zack and written by James Gunn, and was actually pretty good. While I prefer Dawn of the Dead from 1978 over any of the others, Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Dead are also fantastic films that you should watch as well.