Following the scenario set up in the previous movie, the film depicts the United States of America struck by a pandemic of reanimated human beings, who now have no other desire than to feast on the flesh of the living. As in the previous film, the cause of the plague is not fully understood by the scientific community. Despite desperate efforts by the US Government and local civil authorities to control the situation, society has effectively collapsed and the remaining survivors seek refuge. Although several scenes show rural citizens and military fighting the zombies effectively, cities, with their high populations and close quarters, are essentially deathtraps. Increasingly infrequent television and radio broadcasts imply that chaos is spreading throughout the country.
The film opens in the television studio of the fictional station, WGON in Philadelphia, where confusion reigns. Following some exposition— in which Stephen (David Emge), the station's traffic helicopter pilot, and his girlfriend Francine (Gaylen Ross) plan to steal the helicopter in order to escape the zombie threat — the plot turns to another of the film's protagonists, Roger (Scott H. Reiniger), as he and the rest of his SWAT team raid a tenement building because the largely Puerto Rican and black Caribbean residents are ignoring the martial law imposition of delivering the dead over to National Guardsmen and evacuating private dwellings.
The immigrants are slaughtered by the SWAT operatives and their own dead relatives, who emerge from their rooms after being reanimated by the zombie infection. During the raid, Roger meets Peter (Ken Foree), part of another SWAT team, and the two go down to the apartment building's basement, where they meet a one legged priest who has just given the undead their last rites. They soon find the basement packed full of undead that the living residents had kept from being seized by the National Guard. After the two kill the zombies with shots to the head, Peter suggests they desert their SWAT team and flee the nightmarish city. Late that night, along with Francine and Stephen, they escape Philadelphia in the TV station's helicopter, with the intention of reaching the safety of the Canadian wilderness. Following some close calls while stopping for fuel, the group happens across a shopping mall, which they initially plan to use as a pit stop.
Leaving the small area of the mall they were using to rest, Peter and Roger decide to enter the main area of the mall to retrieve supplies. Stephen takes their last weapon and joins them, finding the schematic plans of the mall. After Stephen narrowly escapes a small group of the undead, one of the undead follows the direction Stephen came from, making his way toward the weaponless Francine. The men in the group trick the undead toward a department store, then escape through an elevator air shaft. They make it back to the hideout in time to save Francine, but in her shock she is immediately skeptical of their new idea to make the mall their own private sanctuary. Despite her objections, they press on. Their plan to make the mall safe for habitation is to block the large acrylic glass entrance doors with semi trucks to keep the undead gathered outside the mall from entering, then destroying the remaining undead inside with ammunition they acquire from the mall's gun shop. During the blocking of the mall entrances, the impulsive Roger acts recklessly, leading to him being bitten by one of the undead and dooming him — by the rules set in the previous movie — to a slow death and eventual reanimation.
After clearing the mall of its zombie inhabitants, the four settle in. The group indulges their every material desire as the undead paw at the mall entrances. As depicted on infrequent television broadcasts, society beyond those doors continues to collapse. Roger slowly succumbs to the infection, but asks Peter to wait to kill him as he wants to try "not to come back." He does reanimate, however, and Peter finishes his friend.
The film skips ahead several months. Stephen has instructed Francine in piloting the helicopter. Francine was earlier revealed to be pregnant, and her appearance provides a rough estimate of the time that has passed, as she appears to be near the end of the second trimester. By this time, all emergency broadcast transmissions from the outside world have ceased entirely, though Stephen clings to the faint hope of another broadcast. Stricken with boredom, the novelty of their materialistic utopia wears thin.
One night, however, the three survivors refuse to answer a short wave radio call from a malevolent biker gang who know of their presence and are intent on looting. The bikers break into the mall, in the process letting in hundreds of the undead. Angered, Stephen interrupts their plunder and initiates a battle with the bikers. In the end, several bikers and Stephen are bitten by zombies. Peter escapes unscathed. While Francine wants to flee immediately, Peter decides to wait to see if Stephen will return. Stephen quickly bleeds to death from a combination of gunshot wounds and zombie bites. Upon his reanimation, Stephen leads a large group of the undead toward Francine and Peter's hideout. After killing Stephen, Peter helps Francine escape to the roof but says he does not want to flee. At the last second, Peter decides against suicide and fights off the undead approaching him. He reaches the helicopter as Fran pulls away from the landing pad. The movies ends with the duo facing an uncertain future as they fly away from the mall at dawn in the low-fueled helicopter. As the credits roll, there are multiple shots of the once again zombie-infested mall.
The remake was released in theatres in 2004 called Dawn of the Dead (2004) its Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Kevin Zegers, Mekhi Phifer, Kim Poirier; it was directed by Zack Snyder
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