In 1968, George A. Romero and a bunch of his buddies created what could be touted to be the first “modern day” zombie movie – “Night of the Living Dead”. Controversial at the time because of a black man in the lead hero role when the civil rights movement was still fighting racism & inequality.
10 years later George tackled yet another “hot button” topic within his next zombie film, “Dawn of the Dead”. Commercialism was the target, as found in the plot of a group of 4 fugitives (two police officers, a helicopter pilot, & a female news reporter) escaping the zombie threat by holing up in a large indoor mall. “This was an important place in their lives,” Peter explains as Roger asks why the zombie continue to congregate around the mall even though they cannot get in.
The video box held my attention week after week when I was younger. Video Today is no longer around, but I remember seeing this cover on their shelves:
The day I was able to pull that oversized plastic clamshell case off the shelf was a day to remember as the day I fell in love with the zombie phenomenon. The movie is a time capsule of the late 1970’s with the clothing, the vehicles, the hairstyles. The mall has changed over the years, but as I understand many of the locations can still be recognized:
The ice rink is now a food court & the clock tower is long gone, but many of the original stores remain as well as some of the design elements such as the “pedestrian bridges” & the infamous “hallway”. One of the scenes that grabs my attention every time is a scene that takes place in the mall’s arcade. The gang has sealed up the mall, cleared it of zombies, & what’s left to do but to enjoy the spoils. The games were some of the earliest commercially-available games from the likes of companies such as Atari. This racing game interested me because it was basically a backlit, rotating track with a 2-d plastic car you could control with a steering wheel:
Eventually (spoilers!) the mall reverted back to the walking dead and made for some pretty scary scenes, such as this one when the elevator doors opened:
The 2004 remake (or “reimagining” as it were) did enough at the box office to revive our love of zombies that spawned a whole genre of film. The 1978 original will always hold a special place in my heart, I can watch it over and over again…