George Romero knows how to take a movie and make it interesting on multiple levels; he may not be revered among the greatest artists of the film cannon but I tend to think filmmakers like Romero and Wes Craven tend to be pigeon holed because of the genre in which they have found their career. Dawn of the Dead is yet another example of a film that remains socially relevant to this day and yet is a dang entertaining horror film.
I know that there are at least two cuts of Dawn of the Dead available, the European and American versions and I watched the American version; I believe the plot is basically the same but I believe the European/international version probably does not stray away from some of the gorier aspects of the film.
While Dawn of the Dead takes place in the same “world” as Night of the Living Dead I believe the two movies are meant to be in about the same timeframe despite the obvious decade jump ahead in the styling of Dawn of the Dead. The film takes place as the zombie invasion is still sweeping the nation only now the government is trying to deal with the problem albeit pretty ineffectively; cities and residences are being evacuated and people are attempting to flee to less populated areas. Stephen, Peter, Roger and Francine flee together via helicopter and decide to take refuge in an abandoned mall where they can find shelter and supplies and hopefully wait out as much of the situation as possible.
However, what Dawn of the Dead is really about is the power of the media and more importantly the obsession with materialism that drives our lives.
While I did enjoy this film it is one that screamed for a remake simply because (in my view) unlike Night of the Living Dead the style of this installment makes the film a bit more dated, and the dialogue was much more heavy handed than I would have liked. On the plus side, the film will hold up over time (as it has) simply because it is based on a universal message rather than something topical like a politics, etc. that changes with the wind.
Director & Writer: George A. Romero
Stephen: David Emge
Peter: Ken Foree
Roger: Scott H. Reiniger
Francine: Gaylen Ross
Francine Parker: They're still here.
Stephen: They're after us. They know we're still in here.
Peter: They're after the place. They don't know why, they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here.
Francine Parker: What the hell are they?
Peter: They're us, that's all, when there's no more room in hell.
Peter: Something my granddad used to tell us. You know Macumba? Voodoo. My granddad was a priest in Trinidad. He used to tell us, "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth."