For the remake, see Dawn of the Dead (2004 film)
Dawn of the Dead also known as ZOMBI (Internationally) is a zombie horror film. It was written and directed by George A. Romero and produced by Dario Argento. it starred David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, and Gaylen Ross. It is the second in Romero's "Dead" series, preceded by Night of the Living Dead, and is followed by two sequels. Unlike its predecessor, this film is more of a polemic, exploring the apocalyptic effects a "zombie epidemic" would have on society, than a straightforward horror film.
Dawn of the Dead was shot over approximately four months from late 1977 to early 1978, and was made on a relatively modest budget of about US$500,000. Filming of scenes in the Pittsburgh suburban Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pennsylvania was done only when the shopping center was closed for business, roughly between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Director Romero was quoted as saying, "Filming in the mall was hell." Tom Savini's zombie make-up effects varied widely from the austere to the elaborate. Most of the "undead" extras received little more than gray make-up slathered on their skin.
Despite limitations imposed by 1970s filmmaking technology, inconvenient late-night filming and budgetary constraints, the film is one of the most financially successful horror films, when one considers production cost versus profit. The film's success was greatly helped by the fact that it was sold on the international market, as it was edited in varied ways to suit each market. For example, Italian producer Dario Argento edited the movie to achieve a story with considerably less character development and a much faster pace compared to Romero's definitive cut, which was peppered with humor and cultural satire.
Many consider it to be the best of Romero's "Dead" films, although Romero himself cites 1985's Day of the Dead as his personal favorite (he mentions this in the documentary entitled "The Many Days of the Dead" on the Region 1 Divimax Special Edition DVD release of Day of the Dead from Wikipedia:Anchor Bay Entertainment:Anchor Bay Entertainment).
A remake of the movie premiered in the United States on March 10, 2004. The new version departs considerably from the original, though several major themes, including the primary setting in a shopping mall, remain essentially the same. But the film is a complete rewrite with no input from Romero and is considered, at best, a "reimagining" by the original's fans. It was filmed in the first shopping mall on the east coast of america!
Following the scenario set up in the previous movie, Night of the Living Dead, the film depicts the United States of America, if not the entire world struck by a mysterious phenomenon, of which is the reanimation of dead human beings whose primary goal is to feast on the flesh of the living. The cause of this threat remains adamantly unexplained. Despite desperate efforts by the US Government and local civil authorities to control the situation, society has effectively collapsed and the remaining survivors seek refuge. Although several scenes show rural citizens and military fighting the zombies effectively, cities, with their high populations and close quarters, are essentially deathtraps. The chaos is eventually implied to have spread throughout the country, evident by infrequent television and radio broadcasts.
The film opens in the WGON television studio in Philadelphia, where confusion reigns. Following some exposition, prompted by Stephen and Francine — who are planning to sneak out and steal the studio's traffic helicopter to escape the zombie threat — the city's SWAT team is preparing to launch an assault on a low-income tenement building filled with refugees who refuse to leave their homes for emergency shelters; they also refuse to give up their dead, harboring them in the basement of the tenement. After gun battle with armed bandits on the roof, the police and National Guard soldiers break into the building using tear gas. Roger (Scott H. Reineger) one of the SWAT troopers, becomes disgusted by the bloodthirsty behavior of some of their fellow SWAT members when one of them goes crazy and begins shooting at both zombies and innocent bystanders. A tall figure in a gas mask shoots the rogue officer dead. Roger retreats to the basement to escape the confusion, but the tall figure follows him. He removes his mask and reveals himself to be an imposing man named Peter (Ken Foree). They have some small talk and agree that the zombie plague will only get worse. Roger tells Peter about his friend who has a helicopter; he plans to leave with Stephen and Fran, and suggests Peter join their escape. A priest emerges from a room in the cellar; the man is missing a leg and walks with a crutch. He tells them that he has administered the last rites to the dead people in the next room, and that the soldiers may now "do what they will" with them. Peter and Roger kill all the zombies in the cellar, the gravity of the situation nearly overcoming them.
Meanwhile, Stephen and Fran arrive in their helicopter at an abandoned police station pier on the Delaware River to refuel and wait for Roger to show up. They are surpised when four rogue policemen arrive and threaten them for looting the place. Roger and Peter arrive and the rogue cops back down allowing the four to go on their way. Stephen and Fran are surprised that Roger has brought someone with him, but they agree to take Peter with them. The four of them fly all night.
In the morning, Stephen lands the helicopter at a small, deserted rural airport depot to refuel. While exploring the area, zombies attack them from out of nowhere. Stephen tries to prove his manliness before Fran -- who is carrying his child -- but he is both clumsy and a poor shot. Roger has to kill the zombies Stephen weakly shoots at, and Stephen nearly kills Peter when aiming for a zombie.
Later, while in the air again, they see a deserted shopping mall. They land on its roof and break in through a skylight to rest and to collect supplies. The place is full of zombies milling about inside, drawn to a place that had meant so much to them when they were alive. Despite the growing number of undead outside, the four refugees realize that they could successfully live there for a long time. It even has a gun shop so they will be able to find weapons to defend themselves. Using the mall's floorplans and master keys, Peter, Roger and Stephen race around the mall, collecting the supplies they will need to make a home. They take these supplies to an upstairs area where they and Fran build a home in an annex of former offices and storage rooms. Fran is resistant to the idea; she thinks it is a bad idea to leave what is left of society, but perhaps because she is pregnant and wants to do what's right for her child, she stays.
They realize they need to rid the mall of zombies. A decision is made to block the entrances to the mall with semi-trucks from a nearby warehouse. While Stephen watches from his circling helicopter, Peter and Roger hotwire the trucks and drive them to the mall. Peter is disturbed that Roger seems to be losing his grip on reality; he becomes arrogant and takes unnecessary risks in order to demonstrate his mastery of the situation. Unfortunately, he is bitten by a zombie while trying to get into one of the trucks dooming him to death. They then make the mall their home.
Over the next several days, Roger's health rapidly deteriorates as he grows extremely pale and delirious from a high fever, until it is clear that he is on the verge of death. On his deathbed, Roger asks Peter to wait to kill him if he comes back as a zombie, because he says he's "going to try not to come back." Roger does reanimate, however, and Peter is forced to finish him off. They bury Roger inside of a large planter in the mall.
Peter builds a fake wall in front of the only stairwell that leads to their home, disguising it from any potential looters that may come through the area. They monitor a television to see if the zombie crisis ever ends but the news is dismal.
One night Peter prepares a romantic dinner for Fran and Stephen. When Peter leaves them alone, Stephen proposes marriage to Fran. Fran declines, saying that they can't make that kind of commitment given what has become of the world. "It wouldn't be real," she explains.
Eventually, all television transmissions cease. The remaining three bicker as their sense of isolation gets stronger. Fran demands to learn how to fly the helicopter in case anything were to happen to Stephen. But when he teaches her how to fly it, they are spotted by a gang of motorcycle-riding survivalists.
That evening, the survivalists/looters covet the supplies inside the mall. They try to contact Peter, Fran and Stephen by radio, but Peter is smart enough not to respond. He knows that they will be killed if the survivalists find them. His plan is to let the looters break in and take what they want, then leave. The looters break into the mall, but in doing so they destroy Roger's barricades, allowing the to zombies flood in with them. In addition to looting, the bikers also perform stunts which range from juvenille humor, such as putting pies in zombies' faces, to more risky behavior such as restraining a pudgy female zombie and literally grabbing jewelry off her. Stephen, believing that the mall belongs to him and his friends, sneaks into the mall and tries to shoot the bikers, who return fire. With no choice but to help his friend, Peter creeps through air shafts, picking off isolated bikers and zombies. Unable to cope with both Peter and the zombies, the bikers decide to leave. The only "winners" of the three-way battle were the zombies, as the mall is once again zombie-infested due to the bikers' breach, and the biker gang paid a high price for their looting, as their ill-gotten gains were small compared to the number of bikers killed. Before they make their escape, two bikers enter the elevator where Stephen is hiding on top, and begin blindly shooting, severely wounding him. He is later attacked and bitten by zombies, and dies in the elevator. In the mall, the zombies corner and eviscerate several of the remaining bikers, which has effectively decimated the biker gang.
Peter returns to the hidden fortress and waits with Fran; they are unsure if Stephen has survived, but they know he will return either way. Now a zombie, Stephen remembers how to get through the hidden wall to the storeroom. He leads the horde of zombies up the stairwell. When Stephen appears, Peter fires and puts Stephen out of commission. He tells Fran to leave, but he refuses to go with her. He helps Fran onto the roof, where she prepares the helicopter. Peter stays in the storeroom, waiting for the zombies to flock in and attack him. He plans to shoot himself in the head before the zombies can kill him. But at the last minute he decides he wants to live and fights his way through the zombies to the helicopter. Fran delayed taking off until the last possible moment, and Peter is able to hop into the helicopter. The two fly off to an uncertain future, with little fuel left.
The vaguely uplifting finale in the final cut of the film was not what Romero had originally planned. According to the screenplay, Peter was to shoot himself in the head instead of making a heroic escape. Fran would commit suicide by thrusting her head into the rotating blades of the helicopter's propeller. The credits would run over a shot of the helicopter's blades turning until the engine winds down, implying that Fran and Peter would not have had enough fuel to escape. It was decided, however, to end the movie on a more hopeful, upbeat note. The alternative ending was at least partially filmed (see "Special effects and make-up" below).
Much of the lead-up to the two suicides was left in the film, as Fran stands on the roof doing nothing as zombies approach, and Peter puts a gun to his head, ready to shoot himself, before suddenly deciding to live and shooting zombies as heroic music plays.
The plot centers on four Philadelphians:
- Ken Foree as Peter Washington: A member of the Philadelphia Police Department SWAT team involved in assaulting the apartment complex at the beginning of the film. He is resourceful and intelligent and more levelheaded than Roger. Peter is the main protagonist, and like Ben (the protagonist in Night of the Living Dead), is African-American. He has some Caribbean heritage, as he tells of a Trinidadian grandfather of his who told stories that "when there is no more room in Hell, the dead shall walk the Earth", hence the film's tagline.
- Gaylen Ross as Francine Parker: A TV news technician with WGON television. Unlike Night, where the primary female character was catatonic for most of the movie, Francine is more independent and assertive, demanding to learn necessary survival skills following a narrow escape from death.
- David Emge as Stephen Andrews: The WGON traffic-watch pilot, and initially the only character capable of flying the helicopter (earning him the nickname 'Flyboy'). Stephen at times can seem incompetent and petty, or resentful of any threat to his authority / position. Overall though he is a decent man.
- Scott H. Reiniger as Roger DeMarco: Like Peter, a SWAT team member involved in the assault on the apartment complex, though not part of the same unit. He first meets Peter in the basement, where they decide to join forces. Roger is impulsive and often given to reckless behavior and macho posturing, a trait that leads him to his demise.
As a technical note: there has been some confusion about the nature of the "zombie problem" in this movie; many people are under the impression that only characters bitten by a zombie will become one. While zombie bites are certainly fatal, George Romero has made it clear that his zombie films portray a world in which something has gone horribly wrong, so that anybody who dies from any cause will reanimate as a shambling, relentless member of the undead, with a craving for human flesh (unless killed by severe head injury such as gunshot to the head or decapitation, or if such measures are applied to the deceased within a short interim period). It may also spread through the air; the maintenance man zombie in the department store was locked in and had no trauma to his body. Presumably the problem suddenly appears everywhere at once; it does not spread like an epidemic disease. Origins of the problem are intentionally left unconfirmed throughout the Dead film series, though possible scientific (particularly in Day of the Dead), and theological explanations are offered.
The Monroeville Mall
The Monroeville Mall in Pennsylvania was one of the first of its kind — a sprawling, indoor shopping complex, constructed from 1967–1969 on a 110 acre lot cleared to build the massive 1.13 million square foot complex. At the time of filming, the Monroeville Mall housed 143 stores on 2 levels, including an ice skating rink and a 6,500 space parking lot. The mall became as pivotal a character as any human featured in the film. The mall took on a life of its own, embodying not only the film's sanctuary, but its tragically ironic confinement as well. Of its nearly 150 merchants, almost everyone permitted full use of their stores (except for the bank and jewelry store, which required supervision by security), while only 13 stores refused to cooperate. Interestingly, JC Penney was featured prominently, a feat which would now seem difficult to accomplish with today's expensive standard of corporate advertising and product placement. The mall still exists in Monroeville, Pennsylvania and is still a popular place for shopping. The ice rink was removed from the mall in favor of a food court. The JC Penney is to this date in its original location during filming, but it has been announced it will move to a new location within the mall at the end of 2012. A visit to the Monroeville Mall on 12/8/12 brings this info: JC Penney has moved locations and they are tearing the original location down to build a Cinemark. Horror history gone...
The history of Dawn of the Dead began in 1974, when George Romero was invited by friend Mark Mason of Oxford Development Company (whom Romero had met while attending a party thrown by a mutual friend George Nama, an artist Romero knew from Carnegie Mellon) to visit the Monroeville Mall, which Mason's company managed. This visit turned out to be a defining event for Romero, planting the seeds of what would become the sequel to his previous Night of the Living Dead. Mason — while touring the mall with Romero — brought the pair to a hidden area of the mall that was stocked with food and other supplies as part of a civil defense initiative. "They had these crawl spaces above the shops with Civil Defense supplies — they were too small to shoot in, but they were there, and that's what gave me the idea," describes George Romero. Mason jokingly suggested that someone would be able to survive in the mall should an 'emergency' ever occur.
With this idea planted in his head, the tour continued, with Romero making note of the blank, expressionless faces of the mall's shoppers as they shuffled throughout the indoor shopping center. Romero made the connection between the mall's patrons and his own zombies almost immediately, likening the droning consumers — with their insatiable and driving desire for materialistic gratification — with that of his own cannibalistic creations and their driving need for consuming human flesh, each motivated by a singular fulfilling need.
This inspiration would come back to Romero two years later as he was set to begin filming of Martin. His original intentions of setting Night of the Living Dead's sequel in a farmhouse gave way to this new idea, as he began work on a script that would encompass his plans to include a not-so-subtle attack on consumerism in America, using the indoor mall — now the mecca of American consumerism, but then just a burgeoning idea — as his story's backdrop.
Romero completed nearly half the script, which outlined a dark, primal film revolving around a pregnant woman and her companion seeking refuge from the undead in the safety of the mall, sheltering themselves in a large complex of hidden ducts, venturing into the mall only in search of supplies. Much of the script had the characters naked. They then uncover that a paramilitary group is trucking in and storing fresh human flesh within its confines to "feed" the creatures. The protagonists "were really like cavepeople. I was really going out there, very heavy," Romero explained. The director would soon be contacted from overseas by Dario Argento, a former film critic-turned-famed Italian horror director.
Due to the poor box office returns on Martin, Romero and Laurel Films were unable to procure any domestic investors for the new project. Irwin Shapiro — who was the group's foreign distribution representative — had sent the still unfinished script treatment to a Rome, Italy-based producer named Alfred Cuomo, who after translating it to Italian, sent the script to his friend and fellow producer Claudio Argento, brother of the famous horror director Dario Argento.
A fan of Night of the Living Dead and an early critical proponent of the film, Argento was eager to hear the news of plans to sequelize the horror classic. Argento, while in New York for the premiere of his film Suspiria, was introduced to Romero and producer Richard P. Rubenstein. His interest to become involved with the project was immediate. Argento contacted Romero and invited the director to come to Rome in order to finish the script, convinced that the change of scenery would assist in inspiring Romero's writing. Romero and his future wife, Christine Forrest, were situated within the heart of Rome, in an apartment overlooking the city. They shared dinners with Argento, discussing the script's progress.
Within a matter of weeks, Romero had completed the script with the working title Dawn of the Living Dead. Romero abandoned his original concept for the film, eventually deciding that the progress of his zombie apocalypse had progressed too far; the zombies were already beginning to be trained to function as slaves and were already being fed, which was the premise of 1985's Day of the Dead. Switching his pregnant heroine with a pregnant newsroom producer and her traffic reporter boyfriend, and rounding out the group with two Philadelphia SWAT team members, Romero shaped what would become Dawn of the Dead. Dario Argento, who had been brought on as a 'script consultant', made very few changes to the script, stating later that his admiration for Romero was such that he trusted the director implicitly with developing Dawn of the Dead. After short negotiations with Richard P. Rubenstein, the film's producer, Argento contributed half of the eventual $500,000 budget, along with securing himself international distribution rights and rights to re-edit the film for worldwide release. Romero and Rubenstein supplied another $25,000 each, with a large portion of the remaining budget being found in Mark Mason and Eddie Lewis, owners of Oxford Development, as well as Alvin Rogal (who provided 12.5%) and various other Pittsburgh investors.
With financing secured, Romero set to work planning the shoot. With the help of his investors at Oxford Development, Romero was able to secure the availability of Monroeville Mall as the primary shooting location for a nominal $40,000. For special effects duties, Romero turned to Tom Savini, the make-up maestro whose original plans for an effects position on Night of the Living Dead were interrupted by the Vietnam War. Romero contacted Savini with the simple request that he think of as many ways to kill people as possible.
Casting for the film would take place in New York, with the help of casting director John Amplas, who had portrayed the title character in Martin. Romero intended to cast a group of unknown actors to bring the characters of Dawn of the Dead to life, just as he had in Night of the Living Dead. Interestingly, both David Emge (Stephen) and Scott Reiniger (Roger) worked at the same restaurant that Romero visited while casting the film.
Once the cast was completed with the addition of Emge, Reiniger, as well as Gaylen Ross as Francine and Ken Foree as Peter, principal shooting was scheduled to begin in Pennsylvania on November 13, 1977.
Principal photography for Dawn of the Living Dead (its working title at the time) began on November 13, 1977. The crew began work once the mall closed, starting at 11pm and ending at 7am when the automated music came on. Life on the set was difficult, with occasional freezing temperatures due to the shoot's Pennsylvania winter schedule. The set was snowed in several times, resulting in a cancelled catered lunch break on more than one occasion. Many of the film's sequences were not specifically storyboarded — they were pre-planned by Romero, though often never extended further than his own mental sketches. It was his style to neglect the traditional illustrated storyboards. In working with the limitations imposed by the tight shooting hours, Romero's script was filmed nearly simultaneously at different locations in the mall in an attempt to conform to the stringent production schedule. Creative compromises had to be made, due to the logistics of production forcing certain technical limitations.
It is to Romero's methodology of film-making, along with the technical limitations imposed by the production's location, that one can attribute the discrepancies between the production draft of the script and the final cut of the film. But Romero filmed certain vital aspects of the script nearly verbatim, such as the characters' desirous attraction to the mall and the way they 'conquered' their new home, were central threads which remained constant, helping to solidify his ideas for the suspenseful build-up of the film. The sequence in which Roger and Peter block the entrances with the trucks was another aspect that remained practically unaltered from page to film.
The production was shut down for three weeks during December to avoid the mall's Christmas decorations. Romero decided against having the crew remove and replace them every night — a task that would have been too time consuming. To avoid the obvious continuity difficulties and lost shooting time, production would resume on January 3, 1978. During the break in filming, Romero took the opportunity to begin editing his existing footage.
Once filming resumed, Romero had assembled enough of his script on film that he would be able to edit and cut the film into a viable release form. It was in this atmosphere that Romero fostered an improvisational stage in production, where new ideas were freer to develop than before — chief among these was the filming of the biker gang's attack on the mall. The Pagans, a local biker gang, had been brought in by the production to create the hostile thugs that would attack the film's protagonists; their infamous pie fight was completely improvised, a gag that was conceived and filmed on the spot (this fact is slightly contended, as there is a story that says while writing the script for Night of the Living Dead, Romero and John A. Russo contemplated how they should have the zombies destroyed, at which point co-star and make-up artist Marilyn Eastman joked that they could throw pies into their faces—whether or not this is true, though, is debatable). The opening arrival of the bikers as they raid the mall was almost completely unplanned, as well; cameras simply filmed the action, with Romero later editing the rough film into sequence.
Tom Savini's "Blades" character and Taso Stavrakis' "Sledge" were products of this improvisational atmosphere as well. "Blades wasn't in the script," Savini told Fangoria magazine, "But we saw everybody dressing up in costumes and stuff, so when it came time for the bikers to come in, Taso and I said, "Hey! We can do that!" So we dressed ourselves up with bandoliers and swords. I had all kinds of props with me. I became Blades and I had this rubber sledgehammer, so Taso grabbed it, and he became Sledge." It was essentially an attempt by the crew to get as much on screen time as possible. Romero's request for a bandito-style character was fulfilled by Tony Buba, who took on the role with much conviction, costuming himself complete with a sombrero and ammunition bandoliers.
Many of Savini's effects in the closing moments of Dawn of the Dead were 'gags' conceived and shot spontaneously, including the infamous 'machete' zombie (as portrayed by Lenny Lies).
The airfield scenes were filmed at the Harold W. Brown Memorial Airfield (3926 Logans Farm Road, Monroeville, Pennsylvania), an airport located about 10 miles from the mall. It is still used regularly. The scenes of the group's hideout at the top of the mall were filmed on a set built at Romero's then production company The Latent Image. The elevator shaft was located there as well, as no such area of the mall actually existed. The gun store was also not located in the mall — for filming, the crew used Firearms Unlimited, a shop in the East Liberty district. It has since closed down.
Principal photography on Dawn of the Dead ended February 1978, and Romero's process of editing would begin. Romero was widely known as a competent editor — a film maker whose true genius lay in his ability to cut his edits in such a way as to allow for the editing process to be almost completely responsible for dictating the end product. Customarily, Romero relied on wide, steady shots from many different angles — a process of filmmaking the director often referred to as "covering my ass" style of production. By using the numerous angles, Romero essentially allowed himself an endless array of possibilities — choosing from these many shots to reassemble into a sequence that could dictate any numbers of emotional responses from the viewer simply by changing an angle or deleting or extending portions of scenes. Dawn of the Dead was a prime example of this — evidenced by the innumerable international cuts, and in some cases, their distinct differences in tone and flow.
The film's music varies with each of the various cuts. For Romero's theatrical version, musical cues and selections were chosen from the Music DeWolfe Library, a compilation of stock musical scores and cues. Romero chose these instead of live orchestration due to their cost efficiency. Incidentally, while Peter and Stephen attempt to close and lock the gates towards the film's end, the music playing is the same as that which accompanied the opening credits of Monty Python and the Holy Grail which also used selections from the DeWolfe Library. Some of the music heard in the mall, as well, was actually unintentional. At 7am, the music would play over the loudspeaker. Instead of trying to avoid this — because the crew could not figure out how to turn it off — Romero used it in certain scenes. The music heard playing over the film's credits was actually not the mall's music — it was a song titled "The Gonk" — a polka style song with a chorus of zombie moans added over the background by Romero — from the DeWolfe Library.
For Dario Argento's international cuts of Dawn of the Dead, the Italian director used the band Goblin (incorrectly credited as "The Goblins"). Goblin was a four-piece Italian band that did mostly contract work for film soundtracks. Argento also credited himself with the band, though he was not involved in making the actual music, acting in more an "inspirational" role. Romero utilized three of these cuts in his version, saying later of Argento: "He was very respectful of my indicated intentions, following conceptually what I indicated on the scratch track (a temporary score)." The Goblin score would later find its way onto a Dawn of the Dead rip-off entitled Night of the Zombies (1981). The music heard in the European cuts is performed by Carlo Rustichelli, from the spaghetti Western I Vado, Vedo e Sparo (1969), starring Antonio Sabato. It had a decidedly more "Italian" flavor than the American music. In the montage scene featuring the rednecks and National Guard, the song played in the background is called "Cause I'm a Man" by the Pretty Things — written in 1967 by Peter Reno. The song is available on the group's LP Electric Banana.
Special effects and make-up
Tom Savini had a crew of eight (one of whom was Joseph Pilato, who portrayed Captain Rhodes in Day of the Dead) to assist in applying a gray makeup to about two to three hundred extras each weekend during the shoot. The makeup for the multitudes of extras in Dawn was among the simplest ever conducted for a zombie movie. Some extras were considered "special zombies" that were to be seen close-up or on-screen longer than others. These were caked with latex to suggest the wounds or bites that led to the person becoming undead.
A number of appliances had to be ready for any given night. Savini sculpted scars and bite wounds onto a plastic photographic developing tray and poured into it hydrocal (a mixture like plaster), thereby creating a negative mold of the Slab O' Wounds as Savini called his wound tray. Then foam latex was poured onto the slab and the excess scraped away, before it went to an oven to bake. A few hours later, the foam latex appliances were ready to go.
In any given scene, one can see the paint running off exposing the lips and natural skin color of the actor. Though extras came to the mall in civilian clothing, there were some extra measures taken by Savini to distinguish the hordes of ghouls.
- "Since the zombies were people recently killed I tried to make them look like victims of car accidents, cancer patients, and so on" the charismatic makeup artist recalled in Grande Illusions. We had one zombie who walked around in a very nice suit, and I made him to look like he had been freshly done up by an undertaker."
Creating the bites on humans required Savini to cast the specific body part of the human in hydrocal. Once that part was prepared in foam latex, it was painted to match the flesh colors of the actor (with red and black colors on the bottom). The first bite in the film, in the tenement building, comes off fairly convincingly and the zombie actor actually forced a genuine scream of pain from the actress he had bitten down a little too hard. Later in the film, bikers are attacked by the zombies and their skin is seen stretching like pizza cheese, which was something Savini referred to as "chunks of flesh"-stretchy latex that pulls and tears. Tubing and/or syringes would be used to pump the fake blood. Fake is a very good way to describe the 3M stage blood formula Savini used because it didn't register on film well as he would find out midway through the shoot. For the first half particularly, the blood splashes excessively like magenta tempura paint, which seemed acceptable to Romero who thought it would only further exaggerate the film's garish comic book texture. "While George's films are certainly graphic, the horror is so stylized and highly exaggerated that the film takes on the tone of a comic book" Rubinstein is quoted in the press kit. Romero is quick to point out that "My films are not vicious. The violence is rooted in a strict fantasy realm, whereas a film like Scarface is a mean film with real people-to-people violence. I'm not saying my violence is cool and De Palma's isn't; I'm just saying there's a difference."
"We have the door being kicked down and the head blown off" the director gleefully told Video. "Complete silence. We throw in the zombies taking big bites out of people and the audience is dead quiet. I think they think there's this going on in the first ten minutes what is there to come?" To simulate the infamous exploding head, Savini sculpted a realistic false head (the likeness of Gaylen Ross painted brown with an afro wig) then filled it with blood-filled bags and organic material like pasta, chips and fruit cores. This was placed onto a full-size dummy nicknamed 'Boris', and shot off by Tom himself with a 12-gauge shotgun. Whenever zombies were fired at with machine guns or larger rifles, explosives effects man Gary Zeller took on the task. For exit wounds, Zeller would apply a Squib to the inside of a blood-filled condom to the actor. The wires were connected to a detonator box and activated on screen for higher caliber rounds.
One of the creative ways of killing people Savini came up with was the decapitation in which a zombie stands on boxes in the Monroeville Airport and gets part of his head chopped off by the helicopter rotor. A friend, Jim Krut, had a naturally low forehead and Savini asked if he'd want to take part in the movie. Krut said yes and Savini started off by casting his friend's forehead. Then he built it up higher which would give Jim a more normal-sized forehead. After molding the piece in foam latex, fishing line was applied to the sliced sections. While assistants pulled the line, and the chunks of skull seemed to tear away, Savini pumped stage blood through Jim's clothes up to the fake portion of his head, while hiding behind the on-screen boxes. The blades were never on — an optical effect added in post-production.
Savini's assistant and fellow stuntman Taso Stavrakis proposed a zombie death via umbrella to the ear while on the set and ran it by George. After a discussion, they decided John Harrison could play a janitor zombie that gets a screwdriver in his ear taken from his own toolbelt. All this effect required were three of the same screwdriver. Two of them were sawed off at different points so that when the camera cuts away from the real screwdriver, it appears that it has gone deeper into the ear. Harrison's ear was protected by Dermawax plugging. Within his hair, hidden blood tubing was ready to go. The shortest screwdriver actually slid into a drinking straw cleverly painted silver-chrome.
Savini helped realize Romero's vision of zombies being plowed down by semi trucks (an image first alluded to in Ben's diner story in Night of the Living Dead). Dressed in a mechanic's jumpsuit, Savini portrayed the windshield zombie that gets mowed down by Roger's truck. The scene was shot at different angles. First we see an establishing shot of Savini walking in front of the truck's path from Roger's perspective, then a shot of the zombie being hit. (Savini stood on the truck bumper, spitting out a mouthful of blood and jumping back). A trampoline was placed alongside the truck so Savini could jump backwards into a crowd of zombies. If you pause the scene in the right spot, you can actually see the edge of the blue trampoline.
- "Creating those illusions for George Romero is fun, because he likes everything to happen right on camera. If somebody is going to have a machete stuck through his head, he doesn't cut away before the blow hits and cut to a shot of the bloody remains. He likes the thing to happen from beginning to end the guy picks up the machete, raises it, then whap right into the head with the blade and on camera!"
The most excessive effect seen in Dawn are the hundreds of bullet squibs, most frequently the forehead of the extras being shot by the sharpshooting SWAT team. Fortunately, these were some of the easiest effects to pull off. Savini used the old "button trick" whereby a sewing button was hidden under a thin layer of Dermawax on the actor, and pulled away via fishing line, thus producing the illusion of a fatal gunshot wound. Unfortunately, the fishing line sometimes showed on film as in a scene during the biker raid just before Stephen is seen hiding behind glasses in JC Penneys.
For one scene inside a truck, a zombie had to be shot from the back of the head with an exit wound on its face. Savini sculpted a face appliance for the zombie actress and filled it with blood, which was then sealed with a layer of Dermawax with monofilament line buried underneath. As with the button trick, when the line was pulled away off-screen, the face seemed to splatter all over the truck and Roger's own face. Savini did several falls including doubling for Jeannie Jeffries as she is kicked out of the truck by Roger. That is Tom wearing a wig and in the same costume. Stavrakis also did some stunts in the film. One of the most memorable is when he was dragged by the Volkswagen Scirocco inside the mall. The stuntman also wore a matching wig and costume as the zombie extra who was first glimpsed approaching the car in her distinctive bandana and apparently missing an arm. The reason for her to appear armless is to set up an effect for when Stephen shoots her in the eye. Taso held on to the bumper with one arm and hid his other hand which held a rubber ball filled with blood. This was connected to a prop eye appliance which would gush the blood when the ball was squeezed. Blades, Savini's biker character, offs a few zombies with a machete. One decapitation is seen from the back of the zombie and was done using a mannequin although Savini's philosophy dictates the use of real actors as much as possible. An example of this is one of the best-known zombie deaths. When Blades is pulled off a motorbike by one zombie (Lenny Lies) he kicks him down and whacks the blade into the creature's forehead. First the shape of Lies' head was traced with wire and then the wire traced onto the machete blade. The contoured arc on the blade was cut away in a machine shop and rounded, and the trick machete was complete. On film, we see Savini pulling out the real machete and swinging it down. In the next shot, the blade has met the actor's skull. This was done by placing the trick machete up to Lies' head and pulling away quickly and the footage was printed in reverse. Blood was pumped from a tube glued on its backside in close-ups.
"Let me tell you about being a zombie," extra and firearms supervisor Clayton Hill told Rolling Stone. "When you go into your zomb, you're in a fantasy. I go into the role feeling I am the living dead. I researched it in books — the wide open eyes, the clutching hands, then I made my own zombie. Sharon Ceccatti, the nurse zombie, got into her zomb so heavily the other night she made herself sick. When we were shooting exteriors and it was zero degrees and there was this 300-lb. guy who showed every night in a bathing suit. He said "I'm not cold. I love it." It seems the extras took their roles as the walking dead more seriously than Romero did as this quote from Film Comment suggests: "In Dawn, my concept was to make them a little klutzy, so I gave them these broad types an Air Force General, a nun, a Hare Krishna. You get started when one of them jumps from behind the boiler but there's no build-up of fear." Some of the zombies would go to the mall bar The Brown Derby till midnight and get drunk just in time for their on-screen appearance.
Once the zombies did get a quick meal their feast had to be graphically shown. The raider Sledge, played by Stavrakis, gets his abdomen ripped open by a mob of zombies. Savini sculpted a false chest appliance and glued it to Stavrakis from his groin to his neck. Blood tubing and actual sheep intestines were sealed inside. All the extras would have to do is rip the foam abdomen open. Anyone who would actually stick these entrails in their mouths were shot for gross-out close-ups. Whenever zombies ate what looked to be human entrails, they were actually gnawing on hams, hot dogs or other deli meats. One extra, a pregnant lady, proposed having the zombies rip her open and a fetus falling out. This idea was too shocking even for Romero and Savini.
There has been some doubt whether the original ending was ever shot, and if it still exists somewhere in Rubinstein's vaults. Ross recalled the snowy night when it was shot and how "George loved her death scene" in her only Fangoria interview.
In The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh, Romero recalled clearly that it was shot. "I really pulled toward the tragic ending but then I couldn't decide whether I was doing it just because I wanted a family resemblance to the first film. The effect didn't work great — it would have been spectacular to have her stand up in the blades and I'm sure that had the effect been successful I would have kept it that way. I just woke up one day and decided to let them go simply because I liked them too much." On the Elite laserdisc commentary taped in 1996, Romero doesn't recall ever shooting this suicide ending at all. However, recently Savini came across photographs depicting he and his FX team executing the "Fran decapitation" effect. The photographs are available for viewing on Savini's website, thus proving that this "alternative" ending was indeed filmed, at least partially, if not ultimately included in the final cut.
To pull off this effect, Savini used the dummy "Boris" dressed up in Fran's clothes and fitted with a mold off Gaylen Ross's head, packed with squibs. A wooden rig held the body in place, suspended by fishing lines. Tom detonated the squibs and the false head was decapitated. One more cutaway to the body falling, which was executed as the assistants cut the lines with scissors.
Savini went on to work on Friday the 13th the year after Dawn of the Dead' was completed.
Post-production and release
By the time of the film's completion in February of 1978, Dawn of the Dead had several prospective distributors, including American International Pictures, United Film Distribution (which would eventually release it theatrically) — distributors known at the time for releasing "exploitation" films like Dawn of the Dead. While Romero managed most of the hurdles that may have otherwise hindered the creation of his film, he faced one more: the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), which was the self-imposed governing body responsible for the film industry's rating system. A fiercely independent director, Romero was not above bypassing the completely voluntary process as several of his films already had been released as unrated by the MPAA, and understood the limitations of this. Romero first sought out an R (Restricted under 17) rating for the film, but was dismayed to learn that the MPAA was prepared to issue an X rating — an "adults only" rating with the stigma of hard core pornography attached to it — unless the film were recut to remove the extreme gore and violence. Today, Dawn of the Dead would easily have been rated R, though at the time, the pervasive violence was startling and shocking. Unlike today's rating system, there was no NC-17, which was an attempt bring the rating of "adults only" material under the MPAA's control (the problem had been that the X rating was not trademarked unlike the other MPAA ratings, and so could be self-applied by filmmakers pre-emptively on adult material, a practice that adult filmmakers used often as advertising for their movies). Therefore, Dawn of the Dead would have been barred by most mainstream theaters if released with the threatened X rating. As Romero believed cutting the film to fit the MPAA's strictures would have ruined it, he ultimately decided against edits and Laurel Entertainment would move forward with plans to release it unrated.
With the limited audience and stigma that an X-rating attracted, very few studios would take the financial risk of releasing such a film. Laurel released the film with the following warning: "There is no explicit sex in this picture. However, there are scenes of violence that may be considered shocking. No one under 17 will be admitted." None of the potential distributors were willing to make such a compromise, and refused to release it unless the film was recut for an R rating. Romero refused, and to prove the filmmaker's point, Richard Rubenstein arranged an advanced screening of a rough cut of the film in New York. The crowd for the showing was enormous, and the response wildly approving. Dawn of the Dead had an audience, and won over one of the three potential distributors: United Film Distribution Company, a subsidiary of United Artists Theatres. It was not a major studio but could provide enough of the push that the film would need. Unfortunately, an unrated picture faced certain restrictions, which included being banned from running ads in some newspapers or from advertising on TV in certain states (such as Maryland and Illinois) before 11pm.
Romero cut a 139 minute version of the film (now known as the Extended, or Director's, Cut) for premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Eventually it would be cut down to 126 minutes for the theatrical release. Argento would cut it down further for his edit. "The first version of the film was very long, so we cut it to more acceptable dimensions." In September of 1978, Titanus Films of Rome, Italy released the first public premiere of the film with Argento's European cut, titled: "Zombi: L’alba dei Morti Viventi". Followed in March of 1979 by French distributor Rene Chateau, titled "Zombie: Le Crépuscule des Morts Vivants", then Spain with "Zombi: El Regreso de los Muertos Vivientes", the Netherlands with "Zombie: In De Greep van de Zombies", Germany’s Constantin Films with "Zombie" and Denmark with "Zombie: Raedslernes Morgan". The film's US theatrical premiere was in New York, April 10, 1979. A week later, the film had a Northeastern run and 400 prints were readied for pre-summer release. The Mideast and Southern premieres were July 13, 1979.
In its first week of release, the film grossed over $900,000 at 68 theaters, with only a minimal $125,000 being spent for advertising. The film would become an unqualified success, eventually becoming one of the most financially and commercially successful independent films of all time.
The film went on to do well at the box office despite its setbacks in the United States, eventually grossing around $55 million worldwide. Eventually, the film really found its niche as a home video release and at midnight drive-ins, spawning a countless number of edits and re-cuts for the US as well as the international community, and even an R rating in 1983 to allow it to be shown along with Creepshow, a Romero and Stephen King venture. The outcry from fans was such that the version was never shown again, the R-rating certificate being surrendered back to the MPAA. Laurel called a "radical rejection" in a press release following the recall. Dawn of the Dead would first be released on home video in 1983. See below for a detailed description of these variations.
Romero's film has received a number of re-cuts and re-edits, due mostly to Dario Argento's rights to edit the film for international foreign language release.
U.S. theatrical version
This 127 minute cut is the version that Romero considers to be the definitive cut of the film. The action and pacing are tight, as is the narrative flow. Romero's cut focuses primarily on character development, and differs only slightly from his original extended cut of the film played at the Cannes Film Festival. Most scenes are nearly identical, though they are trimmed and re-edited in such a way as to maximize their pacing. The audio differs slightly as well, combining parts of the Argento-favored Goblin soundtrack and the library stock music found in the Director's Cut, as well as switching various other audio effects. The US theatrical cut was also released in the UK and Canada, but with a majority of the gore edited or cut out. It was released in its entirety on laserdisc in Japan. It has been reissued via Anchor Bay Entertainment numerous times, including their Ultimate Edition box set in 2004.
This version was the 139 minute cut of the film that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, often mistakenly called the "Director's Cut" — Romero still considers the US theatrical cut his definitive cut. This cut was distributed by Cinema 4 in 16mm without mention of its differences, and was often a surprise to viewers on college campuses before its official video release. Romero contends that this cut originally existed at over 3 hours, though no such version is available today. This was strictly a rough cut rushed into completion, though it often rivals the tighter-paced theatrical cut in popularity. Fundamentally, the two are the same, differing only in the pacing and the use of more stock music over the Goblin soundtrack. It features several scenes not seen in the US theatrical version, including an extension of the dock scene and Joseph Pilato as a policeman that Stephen encounters after finding the dead body. It has been packaged as a Director's Cut numerous times, including in a 1994 Japanese laserdisc. This extended version was released on home video via Anchor Bay Entertainment and was reissued as part of their Dawn Of The Dead Ultimate Edition box set in 2004, which included the previously issued Monroeville Mall TV commercial as a bonus. An earlier CAV laserdisc edition of this cut was published by Elite Entertainment and contained the first audio commentary for Dawn of the Dead; this edition is now out of print and the commentary was re-recorded from scratch for the Anchor Bay release.
Dario Argento's 118 minute European Zombi cut differs greatly from both US versions. Argento specifically recut the film to meet the expectations of the European market, removing much of the character development and dialogue in favor of playing up the action-and-violence aspects of the film. The Zombi cut relied heavily on the film's comic-book adventure aspect, with the numerous edits removing much of Romero's underlying subtext—a fact that Romero acknowledges when he states Argento never really understood the film. In addition, Argento also removed most of Romero's stock cues and music, replacing them with the Goblin soundtrack, and included more classically-flavored music over the music heard in the mall. Though this version has a shorter running time, it features extensions and recuts of scenes not seen anywhere else, including an ending that removes the final montage sequence for a sparse, black backdrop. In certain countries, Argento's cut was re-edited even more, removing most of the gore in favor of a lightweight adventure film. It was issued as part of Anchor Bay Entertainment|Anchor Bay Entertainment's Ultimate Edition box set in 2004 and separately as Zombi: Dawn of the Dead in 2005.
The Japanese version distributed by Herald Films saw heavy cuts to Argento's European version, with censors removing practically all instances of violence and gore. Essentially, this version would have amounted to a PG-13 rating in the US — most of the violence was cut around, with the film pausing until the offending frame had passed, while the audio of the scene continued to play. An interesting difference is that this version begins by explaining that the zombie holocaust is the result of a meteor exploding over the atmosphere, releasing radiation. Herald Films felt that the lack of explanation would confuse viewers, but it also removes the ambiguity that Romero had created. The film also premiered dubbed on Japanese television, cut even more heavily, with the soundtrack replaced with that of Suspiria and billed Argento as director. Upon massive complaints, this version was never shown again. In 1994, a Zombie: Dawn of the Dead Perfect Collection laserdisc was released by Emotion Video, featuring both the Director's Cut, as well as Argento's Zombi uncut.
Krekel's ultimate final version
The name of this version refers to Oliver Krekel who owns the German DVD company Astro, an underground label that specializes in re-releasing movies that have been banned in Germany. This version runs 156min (PAL) and is often called the Ultimate Final Cut, as Krekel edited together material from every available version. Although this is by far the longest version of Dawn of the Dead, it is despised by many fans as the pacing is much slower and has a less than professional German language soundtrack.
In 2004, after numerous DVD releases, Anchor Bay Entertainment released the long-awaited Ultimate Edition box set of Dawn of the Dead, featuring all three widely-available versions of the film, along with numerous commentaries, documentaries and extras. Understandably, this is considered the "definitive" home release of the film, as it includes all of the major release versions supplemented with commentary and an extra bonus disc.
There have been no other home release versions since this 2004 edition, however there are foreign-produced bootleg Blu Ray editions available that are of considerably lower quality, without any extra features or cuts of the film.
This version is no longer produced and is widely sought after by collectors and fans of the film.
Romero's original script for Dawn of the Dead was a 253-paged treatment. The director gave the script almost an obsessive attention to detail — infamously detailing everything from locations to set dressings and props. Romero even went so far as to draw a diagram of the fake wall leading to the group's hideout. The industry standard rule that one page equals one minute of screen time would have given this script a running time of over four hours.
In the documentary Document of the Dead, Romero tells Roy Frumkes: "This is a script that seems long. It's not really long — there's so much description, and if you read those pages, there's so much described in great paragraphs where I got carried away describing the action itself." Littered throughout are interesting additions and extensions throughout key scenes, chief among them are the opening newsroom scene (which ran five minutes on screen, but was nineteen written pages), the addition of Fran's puppy Adam and the film's original suicide ending.
"In essence, the script was notes to work from," explained Romero in Paul Gagne's The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh. "I wanted a lot of detail, because I knew I was never going to have time for storyboards or anything like that. It actually is more of a storyboard than a script. I was just trying to communicate the film to all different departments. I've always had to adapt to whatever the working arrangements were, you know? It's never been formal." Among the main differences that exist between the script and the final version of the film is in its tone. Though much lighter than Romero's initial concept, the script is a straightforward exposition of the gruesome horror and action in the film, but without the lightheartedness and humor that eventually crept into the film's production.
Zombi by Goblin
The original score for the film was recorded by long-time Dario Argento collaborators Goblin. Although the score features heavily in the European cut of the film (Argento's Zombi cut), it is diluted in other cuts with stock music which often added an element of humour to the film (see below).
- "L'alba Dei Morti Viventi"
- "Torte In Faccia"
- "Ai Margini Della Follia"
- "La Caccia"
- "L'alba Dei Morti Viventi (Alternate Take)" [CD Bonus Track]
- "Ai Margini Della Follia (Alternate Take)" [CD Bonus Track]
- "Zombi (Sexy)" [CD Bonus Track]
- "Ai Margini Della Follia (Alternate Take)" [CD Bonus Track]
- "Zombi (Supermarket)" [CD Bonus Track]
- "L'alba Dei Morti Viventi (Intro — Alternate Take)" [CD Bonus Track]
- "Zombi (The Living Dead's Voices!)" [CD Bonus Track]
Dawn of the Dead: The Unreleased Incidental Music
Much of the music used in the film was licensed from the DeWolfe Music Library, a much utilized source of stock music for film and TV projects. Although the Goblin score has been variously available since the film's release, it was not until 2004 that any of the highly sought-after 60-plus cues of library music used in the film were released on a compilation album from Trunk Records. The album included 'Cause I'm a Man' a song written by Cliff Twemlow under the pen name Peter Reno and recorded by the Pretty Things and Herbert Chappell's much loved 1965 composition "The Gonk" — the humorous song that plays over the final credits and is considered by some to be the film's most memorable piece of music. The track is used in many references to the film including Shaun of the Dead and a variation (performed in chicken clucks) is used as the end theme to Robot Chicken. Shaun of the Dead opens with the track "Figment" which also features on the compilation. The album's cover is taken from a Belgian promotional poster for the film.
- Herbert Chappell — "The Gonk"
- Paul Lemel — "Cosmogony Part 1"
- Eric Towren — "Sinestre"
- Pretty Things — "'Cause I'm A Man"
- Simon Park — "Figment"
- Jack Trombey — "Mask Of Death"
- Derek Scott — "Scarey 1"
- Derek Scott — "Scarey 2"
- Jack Trombey — "Dark Earth"
- Various — "Mall Montage Scene"
- Reg Tilsley — "We Are The Champions"
- Herbert Chappell — "Ragtime Razzamatazz"
- Barry Stoller — "Tango Tango"
- Derek Scott — "Fugarock"
- Jack Trombey — "Barrage"
- Pierre Arvay — "Desert De Glace"
- Simon Park — "Sun High"
- Paul Lemel — "Dramaturgy"
Influence and pop-culture references
The film was the inspiration for a number of rock songs, including "Jump Around" by House of Pain ("Put out your head then you wake up in the Dawn of the Dead"), "Dead Will Walk" by Bella Morte, "Early Sunsets Over Monroeville" by My Chemical Romance ("Not knowing you'd change from just one bite") "No Easy Way Out" by Ozzy Osbourne ("Night, in the shadow of man, this is the dawn of the dead"), "White Blues" by 80's new wave band Game Theory, the opening lines which are "Dawn of the Dead, close your mouths 'cause they won't be fed", and another (and very different) song entitled "Dawn of the Dead" by The Murderdolls. Clips from the soundtrack have also been sampled into other tracks, such as Murderdolls' band member Wednesday 13's previous band Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 sampling the line "Wake up sucker, we're thieves and we're bad guys. That's exactly what we are." in their track "Mr. Motherfucker", and the stock music track "Dark Earth" (where Roger and Peter move the trucks) sampled into the track "Intro" by Gorillaz, also the famous line "Every dead body that is not exterminated becomes one of them, it gets up and kills, the people it kills get up and kill!" was used in their B-Side song Hip Albatross and the music video for their song Clint Eastwood. The punk rock band The Dickies used a nod to this film with their album Dawn of the Dickies. While none of the songs referred to this film, the cover, depicting the band members set upon by "zombies" in blue make up, was an obvious salute to the film.
Death Metal/Grindcore band "Mortician" sampled the famous "When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth" line in their song, "Zombie Apocalypse", which rougly outlined the film's premise.
The British comedy film Shaun of the Dead both parodies and homages this movie and Romero's other films in the Dead series. The homage in this film runs deep enough that the entire movie may be considered tribute. In the television series "Spaced", from the makers of "Shaun Of The Dead", a poster for the film can be seen above the couch.
The punk group Self Destruct uses the tagline "when theres no more room...." At the beginning of one of their songs.
The Chinese horror film Bio Zombie is a parody of this film, as the plot is similar in where its characters must fight their way out of a shopping mall full of zombies. While Dawn of the Dead was a big shopping mall, the mall in this film is maze-like in design.
In the game Resident Evil 2 the main character Leon wears a police uniform that is modeled after the S.W.A.T. uniform Peter and Roger wear in the first part of the movie.
Stephen King's novel Christine is dedicated to George Romero and his wife Chris Forrest Romero. The book uses the Monroeville Mall as a location.
The Capcom game Dead Rising takes place in a similar zombie-infested mall, and also features many comedic elements. One critic actually lauded the plot as being directly lifted from the beloved movie. A disclaimer has been added to the opening of the game, and on the box stating: "THIS GAME WAS NOT DEVELOPED, APPROVED OR LICENSED BY THE OWNERS OF GEORGE A. ROMERO'S DAWN OF THE DEAD(tm)".
The videogame Twisted Metal 4 features a song borrowing a line from Dawn of the Dead, when Roger says "Man, there's a lot of people running out. I could run." Followed by an alternative line in which Roger says "Man, there's a lot of people running out. I could run. I could TRY to run."
The rock band Showbread has written several songs based off the film, such as "George Romero Will Be At Our Wedding".
In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories mission "Brawn of the Dead", Vic must act in the mall in a film where he has to fend off zombies, the director resembles George A. Romero.
Animated band Gorillaz uses samples from the music of Dawn on the opening song of their album Demon Days. They also use an audio clip from the opening of Day of the Dead on their first album Gorillaz.
The Invader ZIM episode FBI Warning of Doom features a sequence in which a security guard unleashes hordes of zombies into the mall, only to have them walk around aimlessly, groaning, and attacking nothing in particular.
A. M. Esmonde's novel Dead Pulse like countless other zombie novels is a homage Dawn of the Dead, nevertheless, Esmonde's novel Dead Pulse is dedicated to Romero and features a character called George.
The manga Highschool of the Dead which borrows primarily some of the plot of this movie and the entire Dead series.
The Dutch Electro - Industrial band Grendel's club hit 'Zombie Nation' features dialogue from both Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.
The american indie band 'Sprites' wrote a song entitled 'George Romero' which is obviously an homage to Dawn of the Dead and director George. A. Romero. The track starts off with the mall announcment "Attention all shoppers...Attention all shoppers..." which is taken directly from Dawn of the Dead. Then the song then goes on to describe what you would do during 'the end of the world' zombie apocalypse. Various other famous 'zombie' movie directors are also mentioned in the song, as well as legendary FX artist 'Tom Savini', who did the FX for Dawn of the Dead. The song eventually finishes with 'Peters' line from the film "....I'm thinking. Maybe we got a good thing going here. Maybe we shouldn't be in such a hurry to leave..."...!
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