Dawn of the Dead – Marching Zombie

dawnofthedead1I’ve heard George Romero say that he doesn’t like to give large groups of extras explicit directions on how to walk like zombies because they’ll all do the same thing.  Makes sense, choreographed zombies would probably look like the Thriller music video.  Part of the fun of watching his Dead movies is watching out for all the distinctive ghouls on display.  This is never more apparent in Dawn, where the make up for most was just mild discoloration.  It was really the costumes or the body language that made the zombies memorable.  It’s pretty hard to forget the fat shirtless guy bumping his belly against the glass doors or the hare krishna busting into the store room.

With large groups of extras though, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get some weird takes or general nonsense going on.  Remarkably, for as much time as I’ve spent watching the original trilogy, this has rarely taken me out of the movie.  One instance where it did though has become one of those moments that I get a good laugh about every time it pops up.

Right before the boys are about to hotwire the car in the mall, they are surrounded by some ghouls.  With Roger in a wheelbarrow and Peter being such a badass that he’ll punch out almost as many zombies as he shoots, they are able to navigate this pretty easily. It’s sort of like level one of a video game. Just a tutorial on how to navigate the environment

Appropriately, it’s during this time that they encounter the least menacing zombie in history.  He marches straight after them with his arms extended like he landed the esteemed role of “Zombie” in an elementary school haunted house.

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If there was ever a zombie that deserved a punch, it was this guy

In fact, he’s such a dumbass that Stephen, who’s still pretty much a complete boob at this point, knocks him down as he runs by with his blowtorch turned off and his gun pointing straight up at the ceiling.  Stephen, the guy who couldn’t even get his keys off his belt a minute before, shows this zombie zero respect.  It takes a lot to be a complete failure as a zombie, but this guy manages it in spades.  The fact that you will eat people’s flesh without a second thought is usually enough to inspire just a little fear.  This zombie has no such luck.  It wouldn’t even have surprised me if they left him wandering around when they hunted down all the other zombies.

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Even this guy thinks you’re pathetic.

What does surprise me is that this guy gets to be the focal point of one shot.  Like I said earlier, if you look hard enough, you’re bound to find some tomfoolery in the background.  This guy is front and center though.  What did Romero think of this when he was cutting the movie together?  Did he check the other take?  Was this guy in every shot of Peter and Roger fleeing Baker’s Shoes?  Is it possible that he liked the guy?  I picture him doing a little kid’s lion roar as he chases after the wheelbarrow.

What I really want to know is whether or not Romero really wanted to feature this guy so prominently.  He’s in more than one shot, so I have to figure his presence was intentional.  Was it because he thought he was funny?  Scary?

Initially, I thought that this was the result of having to cut the movie together quickly for Cannes, but this zombie is in all 3 popular cuts of the movie.  I think what I love the most about him is the ambiguity.  He’s so absurd looking that he’s hard to miss, but Romero doesn’t flinch.  If it’s a joke, he’s not letting us in on it.

I’m not much of a 3-D aficionado, but I’d check out Dawn in 3-D just to have this guy marching into my living room.  Just when I thought I had experienced everything…

This entry was posted in 70s, Euro Horror, Romero, Sequels, Zombies and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Dawn of the Dead – Marching Zombie

  1. I have to go with intentional humor. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the guy, but I’ll be looking for him the next time I watch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      You’re probably right. I remember thinking the same thing with the red shirt guy in Knightriders. He’s too obtrusive to not notice while cutting the movie.

      Romero’s straight out humor has never clicked with me quite like his satire. I can really appreciate that I never know for sure if he’s joking. It’s a good quality.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to think it was intentional as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paragraph Film Reviews says:

    This guy gets me every time. I’d guess he was kept in as a bit of comic relief as the plot (and subtext) are all pretty heavy – but there’s a few ‘daft’ moments thrown in to help you smile… if only for a second.

    The Blood Pressure guy always blows my mind too… WHY? WHY DO THAT?

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      The blood pressure guy always bugged me too. The pie fight was easier to swallow because it was I could believe that the bikers weren’t taking the zombies seriously. Even though it was silly, it didn’t take me out of the movie. The blood pressure guy always did take me out. It felt more like parody, where the rest of the movie felt like satire.

      I know I’m just nitpicking one of my favorite movies ever. But, if you’re going to watch a movie over and over, you’re going to pick up on minor things.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Matt says:

    I’ve done some background work and I’ve always had so much respect for those who play zombies. It looks like hard work. Too hard for this one guy apparently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      The extras are a big part of what makes Dawn and Day so much fun. The little backstories that are suggested for the zombies kind of reward additional views.

      This guy still looks like a dumbass though.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jay says:

    I totally think this needs to be viewed with a room full of stoned buddies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      This one is my green eggs and ham. I will watch it here or there, I will watch it anywhere. Said buddies could even be stoned if they’ll watch it with me. 🙂

      It’s become like a favorite song with how many times I’ve watched it.


  6. Tony Parsons says:

    I looked for my Dawn of the Dead copy to check him out … nowhere to be found. from your description he sticks out like a sore thumb … I guess zombies weren’t coached into shuffling perfection back in the day, and everyone had their own interpretation. From (patchy) memory some of the ‘ghouls’ in NOTLD broke into actual running at times … pioneering days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      I watched this one for years before this guy ever really stuck. Now I can’t go past this part without noticing him.

      For what it’s worth, I’d take goofy guys like this over CGI hordes every single time.


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