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Dawn   History   101

Here we will learn the history of Dawn. I won't go into great detail, I will give you the basics every Dawn fan should know. In 1968, while the hippy movement grew stronger and the Vietnam War raged on, Night of the Living Dead had become a smash hit upon its arrival onto the screen, and has been a huge cult favorite ever since. So, as you can imagine, Romero was very popular off the success of his movie. In the mid-1970s, he got an idea to do a sequel to the classic (however it was proposed earlier on). He got the idea for the premise upon a visit to Monroeville Mall. He began a very long first draft of the script, which had not even half of the elements in the DAWN we know (however the mall was still included). Italian horror director Dario Argento was already impressed. He, and associates of his chipped in a large amount of money (in exchange for the foreign rights), which really lifted the project off the ground. After investors had kicked in the money, the budget was now existent: 1.5 million smackeroos (not bad, not bad at all considering they had all those actors, the make up FX, the tons of fake weapons, the chopper, and the mall...). So, it was now November 1977, and filming began.

The now-legendary Monroeville Mall was used before and after hours (almost?) everyday of shooting. Special FX/Makeup FX master Tom Savini was doing the makeup, SFX, and was also the stunt coordinator. Along with Romero's massive directing talent, Savini's skills and the efforts of the Dawn crew, the shooting of the film went well. Sure, it had its little problems during production as ALL films do, but you don't need me to tell you Romero did an excellent job.

While Dawn of the Dead was on a succesful conquest in Europe, Romero and Richard Rubenstein were in something of struggle to release it in America. But finally, they found a distributor, and in 1979 the movie, already a "contemporary" classic, was released in the USA, across 500 screens, and became a huge hit.

So, history was made. In every top ten list of horror flicks you look in, DAWN is among them, and if not on top, its always towards the top. About eight and more years ago, the average Joe walking on the street, when asked "Ever seen Dawn of the Dead?" would simply reply "Hmm, never heard of it." This sure got annoying, believe you me. But, now DAWN's popularity is increasing by the day, thanks largely to the internet, lots of video releases (boy, I remember when DOTD was impossible to find!!! But those days are looooooong gone), and loyal fans like myself spreading the word. Newcomers and outsiders to the horror genre are hearing about DOTD.....and seeing it. Hell, even as proof, Anchor Bay is coming out and has been coming out with all kinds of DOTD merchandise and videos, and for the first time in many years, DOTD was on pay TV!!! May '98 (or early June) on Cinemax. This is the first step, towards a new, higher level of popularity.


Ken Foree:

Prior to DAWN, Ken Foree (Peter) was involved in off-broadway plays, and had played "Honey," a goon, in the movie "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and motor kings." He has since starred in a whole slew of films and TV series, including George A. Romero's "Knightriders," and as "Benny" (along with William Buttler, also an actor of a Dead film, Night '90) in "Leatherface". Most recently he plays the father of one of those two annoying teen wannabe comedians on the Nickelodean series "Keenan and Kel." He is a wonderful actor, who IMHO was the most succesful of the DAWN quartet (obviously). For those of you who are wondering, he is 6'5 and as of DAWN, he weighed 225 pounds - you'd think those zombies would be afraid of him!

Scott H. Reiniger:

Scott (Roger), before DAWN (hey, that's the name of one of my stories on Homepage of the Dead...woopdedo!), had many parts on TV, and was heavily involved in the theater. Scott Reiniger's other acting movie credit was Romero's "Knightriders," and he was the key grip on 1994's "Tollbooth." For awhile, everyone had lost touch with him, but it has been found out that he is in fact still directing plays, in Los Angeles.

Gaylen Ross:

Gaylen Ross (Fran) pre and post Dawn acted alot in theater, and another noteable film credit is Romero's "Creepshow." She has recently made a documentary, for which she was the director, and seems to be getting into that alot lately.

David Emge:

David Emge (Stpehen) also worked alot in the theater (this is a pattern with the main Dawn cast), and sometime pre-Dawn at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. His last film was "Basket Case 2" in 1990. From what I hear, he is (I believe) currently enjoying a career in carpentry. Though, I have also heard that he may be returning to his acting career (let's hope so!!!)

Interesting Facts:

In the Project 107 raid, where the zombie "Miguel" bites a chunk out of the girl, when he bites her arm, it is for real. He couldn't distinguish between the makeup and the real thing, and while biting the makeup appliance, he actually bit the girl's real skin! Ouch!

Originaly, DAWN was suppost to take place in the Farmhouse from NIGHT, but after that pivotal tour of the Monroeville Mall, he changed locations.

In the original script, Fran adopted a puppy.....which was killed (evil laugh). ______________________________________________________________________

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