Films with zombies are almost always consigned immediately to a dustbin of cult appreciation, with any serious critical appraisal a rarity. It's hardly surprising, as most of those efforts don't deserve better - unlike "Dawn of the Dead". As a blend of horror, action, tension, and humour, it stands in a class of its own.
The Dead are now on the rampage. As they tear into the flesh of the living, they bring a deadly disease that spreads terrifyingly fast. Society quickly begins to collapse and a group of four people grab the chance to escape in a helicopter. They have no idea of their destination, but land at a massive abandoned out-of-town shopping mall. Their intention is to get supplies, but they soon realise that they now have access to a palace of everything that they could ever want.
A high percentage of viewers would surely love the opportunity of the free run of such a mall. Director George A Romero milks this to the hilt as the four race around the facility, shopping for free while slaughtering dozens of zombies. At the same time they slowly close down any entry points to the mall, turning it into a luxuriously stocked fortress of their own.
As in "Night of the Living Dead", their refuge becomes the centre of a siege; this time on a far grander scale, with zombies and marauding bikers desperate to get in. The adventurous tone of the film descends rapidly into a tense and bleak struggle for the last remnants of western civilisation, and life itself. As in "Night", the outcome is unpredictable and the tension near unbearable in what is often a darkly humorous nightmare.
Read a review of the third part in the trilogy: "Day of the Dead"