The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time: #10 – DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

We made it to the Top 10! It’s been a fun little journey so far, and I’m excited to get down to my favorite kills the genre has to offer. In the last post I promised the intensity was going to ramp up, but I’ve come before you today to say this: I may disappoint you. Just hear me out.

Appearing at #10 on my list is a quick scene from George A. Romero’s original zombie classic, Dawn of the Dead.


Romero’s follow-up to his genre defining Night of the Living Dead (1968) showed us a more colorful world, and a world more out of control than we witnessed in its black-&-dawnofthedead01white predecessor. Instead of being trapped in a farm house surrounded by zombies with no means of escape, this group includes two news station employees, one of them a helicopter pilot, who commandeer a helicopter to fly themselves and two SWAT guys to a shopping mall to live in style.

Critics and fans alike have always appreciated Romero’s social commentary on the state of our capitalist culture. When the dead walk the earth, we’ll still go to the mall.

However, the scene I’m highlighting takes place on their way to their final destination. They decide to make a pit stop at an abandoned gas station to fill up the chopper and dawnofthedead03possibly grab some supplies if there are any left. They leave the helicopter on with the blades spinning and all, and one of the SWAT guys, Roger (Scott H. Reiniger) volunteers to pump the gas while the rest of the group goes to look around.

Upon landing at the station, there’s a peculiar looking zombie (Jim Krut) wandering around with an abnormally large head; more specifically his forehead region appears elongated, in a very similar vein of Frankenstein’s monster. Which is part of the set-up. Is this zombie anyone of consequence? No, but he does serve a purpose.

While Roger is filling up the chopper the strange looking zombie is slowly making his dawnofthedead04way towards him, undetected. I had to stitch together two clips to eliminate the middle portion where we follow the rest of the group as they search for supplies.

Eventually, the bulbous zombie approaches a row of wooden boxes as he nears the helicopter, and then Roger spots him. He reaches for his pistol as the zombie steps up on a box and then….woosh! The top part of the zombies head flies off, and technicolor-red blood flows out the top of his head like a bowl of spilled milk. The zombie crumbles to the ground and Roger gives a glance up at the helicopter blades, possibly amused at how it all transpired.

You know the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) where Indy is about to face-off against the villain with the impressive sword skills and, after showcasing his prowess dawnofthedead05with a blade, Indy pulls out a gun and shoots the guy? I get that same vibe from this scene.

So this wasn’t the beginning of the more intense kills as I promised in my last post, but I still think it’s a great one for the humor and the spontaneity. Also, this is another of Tom Savini’s legendary effects shots appearing on this list. The man is basically the godfather of practical horror special effects.

Ok, enjoy the video and don’t forget to check back on Monday for #9 on my list of The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time!

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