Trailer Review: “Dawn Of The Dead” (1978)

By Jerome Reuter

George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead is the “Citizen Kane” of action horror. There’s no better way to describe it. John Landis said it best—“Watching this film, is like watching stagecoach.” This film still has influence over many auteurs, even today. When releasing a film, the theatrical trailer is one of the most important parts. In my opinion, the trailer for this one fits the film perfectly. It addresses the situation you’re thrown into, and the social commentary Romero addresses.

In the opening scenes, our attention is brought back to Night Of The Living Dead, released ten years prior. One might think it’s boastful to refer to it as the “classic horror film of its time”—but it truly was. In an age of monster movies, and daytime matinees, Romero set a new standard. Many young viewers were traumatized, and even Roger Ebert hailed it as a step in a new direction. In short, it was a game changer.

With Night, the chaos was slowly built up in a slow boil. Order unraveled, and everything that could have possibly gone wrong, went wrong. In this next installment, we’re shown how far down the rabbit hole things have plummeted. Romero leave’s little to the imagination, and the trailer represents that.

“Imagine, if you will, that something has gone terribly wrong.”

There is no build up here; there isn’t a slow boil. We’re off the stove, and right into the fire. The world is in a total state of chaos, and were thrown into it head first. Much of the brilliance of this film is the appearance of the zombies themselves. Savini’s work is presented much like a comic book, adding to the films aesthetic. Unlike modern works, they’re a horde that crawls at a slow pace, driven by a predatory instinct. There’s little to no chance of escape, you can run, but they’ll catch up to you eventually.

Aside from the visual work, the trailer displays the politics right up front. Romero stresses his concerns of a society in the throes of consumerism and excess. I’ve stated several times, horror films often times reflect the times we live in. This is much more than a horror film; it’s a brilliant social statement.

Everything this film had was missing from the remake. Which in my opinion was a total failure. It was all style, and no substance. It gave you the feeling of watching someone playing a video game. (A really boring one, at that.)

This trailer gives you everything you’re expecting. When you sit down with the film, all of your expectations are exceeded.

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