Dawn of the Dead is a 1978 zombie horror film written, directed, and edited by George A. Romero. An American-Italian international co-production, it is the second film in Romero’s series of zombie films, and it shows the larger-scale effects of a zombie apocalypse on society. In the film, a phenomenon of unidentified origin has caused the reanimation of the dead, who prey on human flesh. The survivors of the outbreak barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall amid mass hysteria.
Upon visiting Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, Romero decided to use the location as the basis for the film’s story. The project came to the attention of Italian filmmaker Dario Argento who, agreed to co-finance the film in exchange for its international distribution rights. The special make-up effects were created by Tom Savini, whose work on the film led to an extensive career creating similar effects for other horror films. In post-production, Romero and Argento edited separate versions of the film for their respective markets; Argento’s version features a progressive rock score composed and performed by his frequent collaborators Goblin, while Romero’s cut primarily favors stock cues from the De Wolfe Music Library.
Following its Italian premiere on September 1, 1978, Dawn of the Dead was released in other markets the following year. Despite facing difficulties with various national censorship boards the film proved to be a major success at the box office, grossing $66 million worldwide against its estimated budget of $640,000. Dawn of the Dead has received widespread critical acclaim since its initial release; like its predecessor, it has garnered a large, international cult following. In 2008, it was chosen by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, along with Night of the Living Dead.