How Did ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ Screen Back In 1978?

by Thomas Tuna

First impressions can be telling–even for a horror classic.

George A. Romero followed up the stunning success of Night of the Living Dead with 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, a film that also became a trailblazer in the zombie sub-genre. But, was the movie an instant hit or–like so many horror classics–did it gain popularity as the years passed?

The answer may lie with the results of a test screening of the film, courtesy of the vaults of the George A. Romero Foundation. This test screening–where audience members were invited to preview the movie and give their reactions–was very revealing. Check out the post–courtesy of–on this page.

Nine questions and 230 total responses were recorded, and the audience seemed to know they had just viewed a memorable horror film. The general consensus was very positive–with 35 percent rating the movie as excellent and 43 percent calling it a good movie.

Interestingly, 77 percent found the violence necessary to the film’s meaning, and only 29 percent thought the bloody violence was offensive. Perhaps most importantly, a full 70 percent would have recommended the movie to friends.

Dawn of the Dead–written and directed by Romero–stars David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross as survivors of a zombie outbreak who barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall in the middle of mass hysteria. The sequel saw the legendary Tom Savini make his debut as an effects artist.

Released unrated (after receiving an X rating by the MPAA), Dawn of the Dead was a box office sensation, earning $66 million worldwide on a budget of $640,000.

Keep reading Horror News Network for the latest on the legacy of George A. Romero and his zombie classics.


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