Combines the great minds of George A. Romero and Dario Argento at their height of their powers doing a zombie film together. It's an effective zombie movie with even more gruesome looking zombies, gorier deaths and engaging characters than in it's original. It also has fantastic music from Goblin and a great parallel theme about shopping consumption. Tom Savini's blood effects and sleazy appearance add to the fun.
The best zombie film and perhaps the best analysis of consumerism there is. The mall is both a utopia and dystopia. Utopia for the people who have achieved the position that capitalism promises is possible for everyone: take whatever you want, as much as you want. Dystopia because it’s filled with the perfect consumers, the the zombies who just want more and more even if it means wiping out all traces of humanity.
The social commentary on consumerism is vapid at worse and too on-the-nose at best, but what works here is how serious Romero takes his film's other dramatic and stylistic storytelling elements in a plot that would normally only appeal to boyhood fantasies. It makes the film not only the most entertaining horror film still to this day, but an epical, tongue-in-cheek vision of Armageddon-- clunky metaphors be damned.
I originally watched this film far too young and the hopelessness (not too mention the zombies eating people) was terrifying. Dawn of the Dead has aged with me, revealing it's sharp social satire and jet black comedy on subsequent viewings. Best Zombie Film Ever.
It walks on the edge of action movie, drama, social satire, horror and it shines on each field without ever being overstuffed. Mostly because it is sustained, it never goes over the top with characters being deranged or action being too theatrical. It's limited to practical effects and makeup gore in a smaller doses with genre intermissions in between. And it never looses a track of being faithful to its sub-genre.
2-3. There are points where the movie just becomes straight-up monotonous to watch. But it does put into perspective just how wide-spread the DNA of this movie still is, even almost forty years later. And it plants consumerism, collectivism, etc. firmly in the roots of the zombie film genre, defining it as uniquely American before it became a global interest. It holds up okay as a feel-good political movie.
This is one of Romero's best films and quite possibly the Citizen Kane of zombie movies. Romero liked a lot of social commentary with his zombie films and that is definitely on display here. Also there's a great climax with a group of bikers that makes this film better than all the rest.