There are very few zombie movies that have inspired the genre to such a degree but George A. Romero’s follow up to his 1968 Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead (1978) has inspired every zombie that has followed in it’s wake.
The film starts off with chaos breaking out at a television news station as the outbreak of the living dead has reached epic proportions. The station’s helicopter pilot and his girlfriend plot to steal the chopper to make a break for it. Meanwhile a couple of police SWAT members decided to flee the city when things go wrong during a raid on an apartment building. The four of them steal the chopper and flee the city. After flying for a while they decide to land on the roof of a shopping mall. After clearing out the mall of the dead and sealing things up, everybody settles in and lives it up. Then things start to go wrong.
The film was made for $500,000 and grossed $55,000,000 at the box office even though the film was released unrated in theatres. It received an X rating for all the gore and it was decided to release it unrated. Romero has a knack of creating unease and tension and it really shows in this film. The setting of the mall becomes slowly unsettling as both the cast and the audience realize that it’s more of a prison than a paradise. And then there’s the legendary gore. The film inspired tons of rip-offs including Lucio Fulci’s unofficial sequel Zombie (1979) and a 2004 remake that feature those annoying fast running zombies.