Dawn of the Dead is by far my favorite movie of all time. When people ask me for a good horror movie Dawn of the Dead is the first movie I suggest. There's something about it's comic book like nature that I love that makes it so original and definitive of the golden era of horror movies.
Dawn of the Dead is the second installment of George A. Romero's living dead movie series. The movie was filmed outside of Pittsburgh in the winter of 1977. Most of the zombies in the film were actually fans of George Romero's work and were paid $2 along with a cup of coffee & a doughnut.
Dawn of the Dead opens up right in midst of a pandemic from the zombie outbreak that began in Night of the Living Dead. The movie follows the lives on the run by a news producer named Francine, her news traffic copter pilot boyfriend Stephen "Flyboy" Andrews as well as special op agents Peter & Roger.
As the news keeps coming in of rescue stations going offlinem Flyboy and his girlfriend Francine take to the sky to find refuge. At this time Peter and Roger are clearing out an apartment complex that is storing the living dead.
While clearing out the apartments a guy in the special ops unit by the name of "Wolly" losses it and starts blowing away anything that moves. After clearing out the apartment complex Roger informs Peter he has a friend with a helicopter and that there on the run.
It is here in the film when the group is on the run that we are first introduced to the fantastic make up and special effects work of the Tom Savini. The attention to detail on the zombies make up and the brilliant special effects through out the film really defined Tom Savini as the master of his field. Since Dawn of the Dead, Tom Savini has gone on to do make up and special effects in Friday the 13ths, Creepshow and Day of the Dead.
After a few zombie encounters and a few pit stops along the way Flyboy, Francine, Peter and Roger discover a mall infested with zombies. After setting up shop in the mall the gang set out to fortify the mall.
This idea of fortifying a mall in a zombie apocalypse I think is awesome. I would love to roll around on a segway and blast away some Zombies before hitting up the Food Court.
While fortifying the mall, Roger, the gunslinger of the group, gets infected after being bitten a few times. After losing Roger, the group begins to develop acute depression and the cabin fever that would be associated with a long subdued encapsulation from a zombie apocalypse.
I find the mental impact of a Zombie apocalypse portrayed in the film to be so insanely accurate. Your mind would eventually get so bent from lack of activity as well as the knowledge that most if not all of your loved ones are Zombies. Not too mention the constant groaning you would hear from the zombies that would circle your fortified location which over time would grow short of supplies.
Before long though the groups' presence at the mall is discovered by a large traveling gang of motorcycle raiders after spoting the group's helicopter on the roof of the mall.
As far as what happens in the rest of the movie I am not going to tell you any further to what happens. You yourself will have to get out and rent/buy the film and enjoy it on your own terms.
I would happen to suggest however to watch George Romero's series of zombie films in order from Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead to get the full history of the series.