The original Dawn of the Dead is my all time favourite Zombie horror film. Released as a sequel to Night of the Living Dead 10 years after its release, Dawn took the zombie nightmare further by reversing the roles and making the zombies the dominant species.
Dawn followed 4 survivors who manage to escape in a news helicopter looking for safety in Canada. During their flight they spot an abandoned shopping mall and decide to barricade themselves inside and shelter from the zombie onslaught.
In the shopping mall they manage to make a home form home, with enough provisions, clothing, tools and weapons to keep them alive for years. During their stay they find out more about themselves and each other, while the world outside them is slowly destroyed by the undead.
The film was produced on a small budget , but through the ingenuity of the director and those around him, most notably Tom Savini, the film was a great success. Horrific and thoughtful in equal measure, the story was as much about consumerism, which seems extremely relevant today, as it was about the overwhelming suspense and feelings of isolation created by its set pieces.
The influence that dawn of the dead had on main-stream zombie horror films can be still be seen to this day, spawning a remake in , providing the “unofficial” basis of the excellent game “Dead Rising” and influencing books such as Max Brook’s “World war Z”, itself about to be turned into a film.
This influence and it’s continued high rankings in Movie polls earns it a place in our What IF? Series, and more importantly, secures it’s place as one of the best horrors ever.
Had this film been released today, it would have been capable of a great viral campaign.
Author’s Note: The websites contained in this article are meant to be fictional websites. They may or may not be active, and the content of these website have not been checked. You have been warned.
This viral would have been delivered through different fictional news websites. they would cover local news so as to appear genuine, but would also include the following….
STAGE ONE – Mixed reports. (closely mirrors the storyline of night of the living dead)
The first step in the viral campaign would take place at www.Evanscitytribune.com (the location where Night of the living dead was shot).
10-11-1977 Disturbances were reported on Wednesday morning as mourners at the Evans city cemetery were attacked by a man believed to intoxicated with alcohol. Visitors to the site were confronted by the drunk man as they were grieving over their loved ones. Although the man was moaning very loudly, witness were unable to understand his slurred speech. Relatives and friends of the deceased were reported to be shocked at the behaviour of this gentleman, believed to be in his forties, with one eye-witness reporting that the gentleman was seen to be lashing out and attempted to grab one of the innocent bystanders. As people left in disgust, the local police sheriff was unable to capture the troublemaker. Officer Jones gave this statement when questioned about the incident “I was called by angry relatives reporting that a middle agent gentleman was causing a disturbance . It was relayed that the gentleman was being abusive, making a considerable noise and also chasing away those that had came to pay their respects to their loved ones.” He went on “When we arrived, there was sign of the man or any struggles, however one grave had been disturbed. We believe this may have been a relative who had been upset by loss of someone close to them and whilst intoxicated, showed bad judgement and decided to visit the grave”. The suspect has not been apprehended yet.
11-11-1977 Police were called to disperse a crowd that had congregated at a house in the early morning. Believed to be member of a gang from nearby Harmony, the group had ransacked the house and attacked it’s occupants. When the police arrived on scene the area was immediately cleared, however the area affected was visible from miles away due to a large bonfire that had been started in the yard in front of the house. Local resident, Miss M McKinnon, informed us that there had been “a great deal of noise all night” . she told our reporter “there was a large gathering of people there last night, they were there for the most of the night, and this morning, what I assume was a rival gang appeared and started to battle with the gang that had been present all night”. By the time the police had arrived, it was coming to an end. “it was horrible! I think they may have even killed someone”. Fire trucks arrive soon after to put out the flames and ambulances were on hand to take away the injured. Police refused to comment, but one informant told the tribune, that there had been at least one death under unusual circumstances.
www.GAR.com, The General American Reporting network – Pennsylvania’s news, (fictional news network with director George A Romero’s initials).
“The homeless are very prone to this type of thing. A cult or group will come along and promise these helpless people food and shelter, and when you are very hungry and have no roof over your head, you are very susceptible to these suggestions”. Sister Clarisse continued “I spoke to the police once I heard my regular’s account of what happened to their friends.” She continued “it concerns me that people are preying on the weak and helpless.”
Police refused to comment on the investigation of these mysterious disappearances.
19-11-1977 PHO, the Philadelphia health organisation (PHO.com website goes live) has responded to calls from the public on the recent escalation of flu sufferers in the Pittsburgh’s tri-state area.
It is believed that this may be a new strain of flu and people who believe they may be affected have been asked not to attend their nearest medical practice, but instead phone and make an appointment for a home visit to limit the spread of the disease.
22-11-1977 Police were engaged in several incidents today with an as yet un-named group.
The first disturbance occurred mid-day as diners were upset by a small group who began throwing over tables and trying to grab customers while they were sitting enjoying their lunch. It was reported that up-to 7 people were seen to be attacking the restaurant. Eye-witness’s believed them to be homeless vagrants, describing their clothing as “ripped and dirty” and had a heavy stench of bad odour.
Police attended and tried to remove the group, however, they were met with heavy resistance.
After an hour’s stand-off, the officers were able to round up the hostile mob. Those that seen the incident reported that the police sustained minimal injuries including scratches and in one case, a bite.
Other similar incidents were reported across the city, and the police as yet have no explanation as to why these incidents have increased in frequency.
Also in the news:
22-11-1977 The city morgue had 2 bodies stolen late last night. These bodies were shrouded in mystery since their admittance to the morgue yesterday. Both bodies were found close to each other by a dog walker and they had both suffered several animal bites. A post mortem was due today, however the pathologist made the chilling discovery this morning. A spokesman for the police issued this statement, “There appears to be forced entry by what we believe to be vandals. There are several gouges round the door which would indicate this is not a professional thief”. “If anyone has any details, please call us on 3296-63-3323.” (calls to this number will get through to an answering machine recording of a frantic scene with people screaming, zombies moaning etc.)
STAGE THREE – Large network reporting events.
This website would be the main viral sight, featuring fake video news reports following the events and featuring Stephen’s commentary on aerial shots. Website will also feature bios on news reporters and the main character Stephen. WGON.com (News network featured in DAWN OF THE DEAD).
24-11-1977 Downtown Philadelphia has been witness to extraordinary scenes of rioting and pillaging today. An unprecedented amount of people converged on the centre of the city and started rampaging through the streets. It is unknown if this was pre-meditated but the police were quickly overwhelmed by the crowds.
Several attacks have been reported and the city hospitals have had a sharp intake of patients, most suffering minor injuries, but there have been reports of several deaths as well. Initil death toll figures have been changing all day, no doubt due to the mayhem that has ensued and the shortage of medical staff. The first report submitted by Philadelphia Health service counted the dead at 287, however subsequent reports have reduced that figure significantly to 124.
Hospitals have been overwhelmed and our Eye In the Sky, Stephen Andrews has reported that the hospitals seem to be sending away the walking wounded, with several patients seen leaving the hospital. Police have advised residents to stay in doors until the rioting subsides.
Aerial pictures of the city show several fires in the city, with buildings falling down on the rioting crowds. Looters have been smashing shop windows and stealing store merchandise. Roads out of the city are also blocked, with residents leaving the city en masse. Again, police have recommended that people do not use their cars unless the journey is absolutely necessary. WGON will keep you up to date as always.
25-11-1977 The Philadelphia health organisation (PHO) has issued a statement on the new Flu that appears to be spreading rapidly through Philadelphia as well as several over large cities. The flu has been named as Faust Flu and seems to the neural cortex of the victim. It is spread through contact with bodily fluids such as blood and saliva with the patient showing symptoms quickly depending on the closeness of the cut or abrasion in relation to the head.
The bug is not airborne so spread of the disease is local. PHO advises that no contact should be made with those infected. It is believed that this viral flu causes nausea and disorientation, with those affected showing signs of what appears to be alcohol abuse. They are very violent towards people and should not be approached. If you come in contact with someone who has been affected please call 843-3323-5483 (this will be a publc safety automated message).
27-11-1977 Reports are coming in from around the globe that dead are coming back to life. These reports have been confirmed by the PHO and police organisations around the world. The Faust virus appears to continue affecting those have contracted it after death and seem to be bringing them back with limited neural activity and motor functions. The dead continue to spread the disease through injuring their prey.
Unconfirmed reports that witness have seen the dead cannibalise their victims have also been heard, however, they have neither been confirmed or denied. World leaders have convened to formulate a response to the outbreak, and again, the advice from local authorities and town hall is to remain indoors, lock your doors and do not let anyone enter your house.
STAGE FOUR – Emergency transmission
The Pho.com website would run for a couple of weeks with advice on the Faust virus, however, this page will eventually be turned off and visitors will be redirected to an emergency transmission page.
This is a public safety announcement. The dead are rising from the grave and intent on killing the living. Do not make contact with them. If your loved ones are affected it is important to realise that they are no longer your loved ones,. They are infected who wish to harm you. Do not come in contact with them.
Stay in groups and barricade yourself in a safe structure with plenty of provisions and weapons. The dead are relentless and thrive on the taste of human flesh. They will stop at nothing to catch you. Normal methods of injury are not appropriate on the “un-dead”. Gunshots or wounds to body extremities, the chest or the heart will not work. There is only one to harm them. Injury to the brain or dismemberment of the head will stop them.
Do not let them bite you, or you will become infected. Once infected, there is no way to fight the infection. You will become re-animated. If affected, please do not travel to someone house, you will infect them also. In this event, please paint a red cross on your door and then lock it behind you. This will alert the local authorities of your infection and will take the appropriate action.
Please watch the video for instruction on killings methods and the signs to look for to identify the infected. (video will show the trailer for Dawn Of the dead).
When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.
So what do you think? Would you have followed the viral for Dawn of the dead? It would be great to hear your comments.