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When there is no room left in hell, the dead will walk the earth.
― Peter

Disambig-dark.svg For other uses, see Dawn of the Dead.

Dawn of the Dead (also known as Zombi internationally) is a 1978 Zombie film, written and directed by George A. Romero. It is the second film in Romero's Living Dead series, but contains no characters or settings from its predecessor. It shows a zombie epidemic's effects on society in a larger scale.


Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Warning: this text contains details about the plot/ending of the film.

Following the scenario set up in Night of the Living Dead the United States (and possibly the entire world) has been devastated by a phenomena which reanimates recently deceased human beings and turns them into flesh-eating Zombies. The cause of this phenomenon is unknown. 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. Some rural citizens and the military have been effective fighting the zombies, but cities, with their high populations and close quarters, are essentially deathtraps. The chaos has apparently spread throughout the country, evident by infrequent television and radio broadcasts.

Confusion reigns at the WGON television studio in Philidelpia. Staff member Stephen, the pilot of the station's traffic helicopter, and his girlfriend Francine are planning to steal the helicopter to escape the zombie threat.

Meanwhile Roger and his SWAT team raid an apartment building where the residents are ignoring the martial law imposition of delivering the dead over to National Guardsmen. Some residents attack with rifles, and are slaughtered by the SWAT operatives, and by their own reanimated dead. During the raid, Roger meets Peter, part of another SWAT team. They find the basement is packed with undead, placed there by the living residents. They kill the zombies. Roger, who knows of Stephen's plan, suggests they desert their SWAT teams and flee the city.

Late that night they escape Philadelphia with Francine and Stephen. Following some close calls while stopping for fuel, the group comes across a shopping mall, which becomes their private sanctuary. To make the mall safe for habitation, they kill the mall's zombie population and block the large glass doors with trucks to keep the undead gathered outside from entering. During the operation, the impulsive Roger becomes reckless and is bitten, dooming him to death. After clearing the mall of its zombie inhabitants, the four settle in, each indulging their every material desire.

Time passes as the undead paw at the mall entrances and society beyond those doors continues to collapse. As the novelty of their materialistic utopia wears thin, they begin to realize their refuge has become their prison. It is revealed that Francine is about four months pregnant. Eventually dying from his wounds, Roger is shot by Peter as he begins to reanimate. All emergency broadcast transmissions have ceased.

A gang of bikers break into the mall, which also allows hundreds of the undead inside. Stephen foolishly initiates a gun battle with the bikers. He is shot in the arm, and then attacked by zombies. The ravenous zombies feast upon many of the bikers, the surviving bikers make a hasty retreat from the mall. Stephen dies from his wounds and reanimates as a zombie, leading a group of the creatures to Francine and Peter's hideout. Peter kills Stephen, while Francine escapes to the roof. Peter contemplates suicide before heading to the roof to join Francine. They fly away in the partially fueled helicopter to an uncertain future.

Alternate ending[edit | edit source]

The finale in the final cut of the film was not what Romero had originally planned. According to the original 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 helicopter's propeller blades. The end 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. During production it was decided to change the ending of the film.

Much of the lead-up to the two suicides was left in the film. Fran stands by the running helicopter waiting for Peter as zombies approach, and Peter puts a gun to his head, ready to shoot himself. However, he suddenly decides to escape with Fran. Romero has stated that the original ending was scrapped before being shot. Behind the scenes photos show the original version was at least tested. The head appliance made for Fran's suicide was used in the film as the head blown off during the SWAT raid on the apartment building. It was made-up to resemble a bearded African American male.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • David Emge as Stephen "Flyboy" Andrews
  • Ken Foree as Peter Washington
  • Scott Reiniger as Roger "Trooper" DeMarco
  • Gaylen Ross as Francine "Fran" Parker
  • David Crawford as Dr. James Foster
  • David Early as Mr. Sidney Berman
  • Richard France as Dr. Millard Rausch
  • Howard Smith as TV Commentator

Videos[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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