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Zombie movies have had a fascinating path to the mainstream. For decades, the creatures didn't have much of a presence or definition outside Voodoo lore, radioactive humanoids, and the unforgettable art of E. Zombies were scarcely used, and when they were, they were a pretty far cry from the cannibalistic, flesh-hungry, undead creatures we know and love today.
Dawn of the Dead is an undeniable classic of the horror genre, and while Night of the Living Dead is arguably more influential and "important" in regards to movie history, Dawn seems considerably more popular. Today, Dawn may seem a little dated— especially when it comes to the sound de and some questionable visual effects.
But there's simply no denying just how incredible it is despite the elements of it that haven't aged particularly well. It remains one of the most popular zombie movies ever made— if not the most popular— and many people consider director George A. Romero to be the grandfather of the zombie genre.
The following trivia tidbits from the landmark movie's production come largely from the commentary and behind-the-scenes featurettes on various home video releases of the movie. It's certainly not a small budget, especially by horror movie standards, and it allowed Dawn to be far more ambitious than its predecessor.
Back in the late '60s, George A. The budget forced them to shop at Goodwill for costumes and use simple chocolate syrup as blood. Dario Argento was a popular Italian horror filmmakerknown for his work in the "giallo" subgenre.
Perhaps his most famous pre- Dawn of the Dead work is Suspiriareleased in Argento was a big fan of Night of the Living Dead and swooped in to rescue Romero in the midst of some financial difficulties. No one seemed interested or confident in the concept for Dawnand Romero couldn't find any investors. Argento got wind of the potential sequel and met with Romero, offering him financing in exchange for international rights to the movie and the ability to re-edit the film for international release. Even with financing secure, it's hard to imagine how Romero was able to film the movie inside of a shopping mall given the limited budget.
The answer lies in Romero's personal connections. Romero had a friend named Mark Mason, who worked at the Oxford Development Company— a real estate firm based out of Pennsylvania which manages the Monroeville Mall. Romero met Mason through an acquaintance years earlier while studying at Carnegie Mellon University. These connections allowed Romero to film inside their mall, on one condition Romero obviously couldn't shoot inside the mall while it was in operation, so he and his team of filmmakers were forced onto the graveyard shift for a couple months.
Romero only had eight hours a night to get set up, film, and clean up, as they were only permitted inside the mall between pm and the following morning. Romero's Dawn Of The Dead. Luckily, they were able to get it done.
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Unfortunately, Romero picked a really bad time to film a movie inside a mall. Shooting began on November 13,which meant the crew needed to take down the mall's Christmas decorations every single night. And yes, they were responsible for putting them back up as well. Unsurprisingly, this ate up a ton of the crew's already-restrictive 8-hour workdays, and Romero eventually grew so frustrated that he halted production for the three weeks preceding Christmas.
The time wasn't entirely wasted, as Romero used it to begin editing the movie using the footage he had already shot.
While most of the movie was shot inside Monroeville Mall and its many stores, numerous indoor locations were shot elsewhere. For example, the gang's hideout in the upper reaches of the mall and the elevator shaft sequences were shot on a soundstage inside the building of Romero's production company. The Monroeville Mall also didn't have a gun store, so the filmmakers were forced to use Pittsburgh's Firearms Unlimited instead.
Some clever editing did the rest. The ending to Dawn of the Dead sees Peter and Fran flying away from the breached mall into an unknown future.
However, this was not the originally scripted ending. In the original script, Peter shoots himself in the head and Francine decapitates herself with the rotating helicopter blades.
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Romero obviously changed his mind during production, although one surviving element of the ending remains: the exploding head seen in the beginning housing project raid is actually the prop head built for Francine's suicide sequence. Tom Savini is known as a master of the make-up craft, and his work in Dawn of the Dead remains exceptional to this day.
He served as a combat photographer, and it was his horrific experiences in the job that influenced his make-up work. My job was to shoot images of damage to machines and to people. Through my lens, I saw some hideous [stuff].
To cope with it, I guess I tried to think of it as special effects. Now, as an artist, I just think of creating the effect within the limitations we have to deal with.
Savini had a small team of make-up artists who were hired to apply simple gray and blue make-up to the zombies while Savini worked on the more complex stuff. Pilato was one of these men, and his role within production resulted in a small cameo— this scene was eliminated from the theatrical version but can still be found in the director's cut. It's exceedingly rare for a movie to release unrated, as the distributor takes a major risk in doing so.
Most major theater chains refuse to show unrated movies, so they're typically found in more independent, locally-owned theaters. Even more movie chains refuse to show NCrated— formally known as X-rated— movies, as these don't generate much money. Unfortunately, Dawn of the Dead was slapped with an X rating owing to its incredibly graphic violence.
To help the film's commercial success, Romero and his producers decided to release Dawn unrated.
Nathan Sharp is a writer from outside Toronto, Ontario. He has a love of movies and television, having enjoyed them for more than twenty years. His preferences include drama, action, and horror, with the former being a particular point of interest and fascination. He also has a love of video games, particularly those of Rockstar. Whether it be about film, television, or video games, Nathan loves a good discussion and has written hundreds of articles for Screen Rant.
By Nathan Sharp Published Sep 29, Share Share Tweet 0. Related Topics Lists dawn of the dead.