Top 20 moments from Dawn Of The Dead
We're slowly winding down to a close with our tribute week to Mr. George A Romero who sadly passed away this past Sunday. Switching things up for Sensational Summer, we decided to make this a Romero themed week to honor this master filmmaker. Just a few nights ago I was lucky enough to guest speak on my friend Chad's podcast with Ben from Fright rags to pay tribute to Mr. Romero. Tonight I'm attending a screening/party at my friend Chris' watching my all time favorite film of George's Day Of The Dead. This summer I've certainly been feeling the Romero love, even before his sudden and shocking passing. I would like to express yet again what a huge part of my life Romero has been. I attended Savini's school since I loved his movies so much, I dove head first into his films at an early age, instantly becoming fascinated with every single movie of his, most of all his original Dead trilogy as well as Creepshow. One movie that I'm sure horror fans from all over will agree on being an ultimate classic is George Romero's 1978 classic Dawn Of The Dead. It's insane to think this movie is going to be turning forty next year! I constantly re-discover my love for this movie. In fact in 2015 when I was snowed in for two solid weeks straight I watched this movie on a constant loop. It strangely has always been a comfort movie for me. I have fond memories watching it as a kid over and over again, how much I LOVED the 2004 remake, and how as soon as I moved to Pittsburg I needed to visit the mall ASAP. To pay tribute to one of the greatest movies of all time, here are my personal top twenty favorite moments from this film!
1) "Do you believe the dead are returning to life?"
- This movie starts with a bang showing a news station falling apart before our very own eyes. It's complete madness. The people being interviewed speak classic lines as they shout to each other about the dead returning to life. Here we meet Fran, a producer, and her boyfriend who reports the weather via helicopter. Watching everything fall apart, the two decide to escape using the news station's chopper. I love the line of one of the cameramen telling Fran to just go, the emergency crews will be taking over all of the stations shortly...that their responsibility is finished.
2) Peter taking care of business.
- We meet a S.W.A.T team who's clearing out a huge apartment complex where the living dead have been held up. After one of the officers loses it, and goes on a massacre, Rodger goes downstairs and meets Peter, the man who took him down. They talk about perhaps taking off and leaving the city before it becomes too late. Here Peter goes into the basement where he has to kill several zombies kept down there. The music honestly makes the entire scene and I get chills every time I see it.
3) "Got any cigarettes?"
- While re-fueling, and fleeing the city, the group load into the chopper ready to leave when a very special looking police officer asks if they have any cigarettes. It appears a group of officers are taking boats to head to an island...any island. The group's original plan was to head up North. This exchange is funny, but goes to show you how everything is falling apart. LOVED how everyone lights up as soon as they are about to take off. Fun fact, Joe Pilato plays a police officer who's scene sadly mostly got cut but remains in the some versions. Joe of course would later on play Captain Rhodes in Day Of The Dead.
4) Redneck Heaven.
- While the group travels, looking for a place to re-fuel, they land at an old abandoned airport in the middle of nowhere. Shortly before they arrive there, they witness all of the vast country side overrun by zombies, getting just as bad as the cities. Here they fly over a field where hundreds of people are enjoying everything along with the military. Here it appears to look like a country fair. People are decked in their flannel, guns, coffee, music, and laughter. They shoot zombies, clearly enjoying that the world is falling apart.
5) Helicopter zombie.
- These zombies all are classic, but the one who earns the greatest death has to be the helicopter zombie who lumbers up on a pile of boxes only to have the twirling blades cut off the top of his head. For the 1970's this effect ruled, in fact I would say it holds up today.
6) Arriving to the mall.
- One of the best lines has to be "What the hell is it?" "Looks to be one of those indoor shopping malls." Always loved that. Here the group lands on the giant mall and look down at all of the zombies wandering around below. Here Stephen remarks that these creatures remember this place since it was na important place to them. Perfectly captures how much people wanted to consume back then (to think it's gotten MUCH worse 40 years later) people only wanted material things, the more they had, the better they felt. Here we watch as these zombies wander around mindlessly just like shoppers today.
7) Hit and run!
- After the group lands at the mall and discovers an upstairs storage room where they can rest for a bit. While Stephen is sleeping, Rodger and Peter can't resist the temptation of everything downstairs. Wanting to load up on supplies, they head downstairs like a couple of kids. Love the shots of the music starting and all of the iconic zombies wandering around. One of my favorites is the one who is in the tiny pond and holds up all of the pennies that fell. Watching these two race around, discovering the department, and loading stuff up always brings a while to my face, mostly when Rodger slides down the stairs.
8) Flyboy joins the team.
- Flyboy started off as a pretty weak link. He was clumsy, he didn't know how to shoot for shit, and didn't seem like one of the guys. Finally there's a moment when he stops being the pussy he started off as, and became one of them. It's when he opens up the hallway door and sees Peter. Fighting zombies off, he listens to his friend's advice in not being scared and running back upstairs. Instead he runs (love his run) and joins Peter. Here they head back to the department store and he uses his brains on how they can move from one store to another. I always loved when both Stephen and Fran at separate times come out of their shell and begin to add something to the group.
9) Blocking the doors with the trucks.
- Always loved the score from this movie and how sweeping and epic it all felt as Stephen has his chopper flying over head, Fran is on the roof with the gun she finally insisted on having, and Rodger and Peter using the trucks to block the doors. You really gotta hand it to these guys, they thought things out. I love how fun it all seems as they speed around, making the mall safe. Sadly Rodger gets too carried away, and this costs him two very nasty bites. I always feel so bad afterwards when you see Peter driving, knowing he's now going to lose his friend.
10) The team secures the mall.
- I always think of Dawn as this big sweeping comic book come to life. I've been saying for years that this would have made a killer video game. Love how they are all locked and loaded (the scene of Peter and Stephen heading to the gun store and getting ready always gives me nerd chills.) After, all four of them head out with torches, guns, and enough bullets to last them. They work as a team, even wheeling Rodger around. One of the best moments as they lock the doors and shoot as many zombies as possible is when they hot wire the car and speed around shooting with the epic score blasting away. Such a cool moment showing them working so hard to make a safe place.
11) Cleaning up/enjoying the mall.
- What I love is the very idea of them holding up in a shopping mall. You have everything you could ever want just within reach. Here after they have killed every single zombie, they work on cleaning up all the bodies (I do hate that they put them in the freezer with all that good food.) Still, they make the mall their home, and begin to enjoy the fruits of their labor. They play around, shop, get their hair cut, have a great montage of them getting good (the fact this mall and a market and gun store blew my mind...only in the 70's people!) even play arcade games, and stroll on over to the bank. It's a fantasy come to life even if Rodger is too sick to enjoy it.
12) Rodger's return.
- Rodger's death is one of the saddest moments in the entire movie. After they secure the mall, and now have everything they ever wanted...it honestly means nothing since it cost Rodger is life. In just a matter of days all the fun and games end when Rodger dies, doped up on pain meds due to the infection he got while bitten on the arm and leg. He lays in his friend Peter's arms telling him not to kill him until he's completely sure he's coming back. In his frail weakened state he tells his friend he's going to try not to. Hours pass and sadly Rodger does in fact return. Love how simple, yet terrifying this makeup was. Romero did a great job playing the news show with all the screaming and yelling in the background as Peter aims to put Rodger out of his misery. A heavy, and sad scene for sure.
13) Passing time.
- After Rodger's death it seems like a shadow fell over the three remaining members of the group. It's kinda heartbreaking as you watch them pass the time (in the uncut version it shows this better) even though they have everything at their fingertips, it honestly means nothing to them. They are depressed, cranky, and getting cabin fever. I love how Romero shows this. They wander around like zombies themselves, slowly no longer being the lively group they once were. I love the scene of Fran and Stephen silently fighting back and forth over the TV being on and finally Fran saying "Dear God, what have we done to ourselves?!"
- Everything is ruined when a huge army of looters and bikers take over the mall. They ruin the secure place the gang worked so hard on keeping safe, that even cost Rodger his life. It's heartbreaking seeing them move the trucks, open the doors, and go into the stores stealing and wrecking everything letting thousands of zombies inside. I love the crazed expression on Stephen's face as he watches as he whispers..."We took it...it's ours." Shows how such stupid material things could cause such a insane reaction.
15) Pie fight.
- One thing I have to say about Dawn is how as bleak as the content is about the story, it keeps it pretty light. There's a soft lingering feeling of humor dancing around the entire time. I loved the moment where the bikers open up the ovens which have dozens upon dozens of pies baking. It makes you wonder...were those in there the entire time? Did the gang make up? Ewww, how long have they been there? Still, love the montage of the bikers spraying sofa at them, as well as slamming pies into their faces. What a bunch of assholes!
16) Machete kill.
- This movie is filled with famous moments, but one of the best zombie kills is when Blade aka Tom Savini is accidentally knocked off his bike by a wandering zombie. Here he grabs his machete, raises it as another biker holds the zombie's head and slams the blade straight into the zombie's head. A simple enough effect, but pretty awesome to see!
17) Biker massacre.
- Those fucking bikers ruined everything. They took over the mall, destroyed everything, stole, and let the zombies all back in. You can't help but smile when the tables are turned and the asshole stupid enough to stay long after it's shown it's no longer safe are either shot by Stephen and Peter, or attacked and eaten by zombies. I think we all can't get over how stupid that biker was when he stayed and checked his blood pressure. Every time I see those at the drug store I think of this movie and crack up.
18) Flyboy returns.
- Flyboy will forever and always be my all time favorite zombie. His death is heartbreaking in the elevator. I feel horrible when he's laying on the floor, shot, bitten, and bleeding. One of the movie's most iconic moments is when the elevator opens and reveals that Flyboy has changed. I always loved his blue makeup. Fright Rags just recently released a killer shirt with him on it. Finally one of the most famous zombies gets the respect he deserves! Props to the actor for really selling it. Loved his shuffle, and how his feet are turned inward as he wanders out. What a performance!
19) Peter's choice.
- Poor Peter. So heartbreaking. He loses his friend Rodger, basically becomes a third wheel, yet remains the voice of reason, strength, and brains of the group. After losing the mall, as well as his friend Stephen, he's hit rock bottom. Helping Fran escape, he shows he doesn't want to leave. He has nothing left. Ready to put a bullet in his brain as the zombies overtake the apartment, he suddenly gets a second wind and turns the gun on the zombies. I LOVE the music choice. It's a fucking anthem. He raised above it, punches, and kills a bunch of zombies only to escape and jump into the chopper with Fran. Talk about a hero!
20) Escape into the dawn.
- We're happy to see Fran and Peter escape. Both of their futures, along with Fran's unborn child aren't known. They don't have much fuel, and are lifting off into an uncertain future. Still props to Fran for taking charge, insisting she learned how to fly the chopper, and being strong enough even witnessing her boyfriend and father of her child get killed before her very own eyes to escape, and move forward with her friend. Love the shot of the chopper lifting off the roof, just as dawn touched the sky.
RIP George! Thank you for this brilliant film!!!