may_11.jpgDirector George Romero’s second, and arguably most influential zombie flick, Dawn of the Dead, premiered in Los Angeles on this day in 1979. Romero, who also wrote and edited the movie, had unexpected success with the horror classic Night of the Living Dead in 1968 and decided to move the action to a shopping mall for its sequel. As a comment on consumer culture, the movie’s four main characters seek refuge in a local mall, stocked with all manner of desirable possessions. But soon enough materialism is not enough to stave off the reanimated creatures converging on their haven. Eventually released with an R rating, the MPAA had found the first cut so violent they assigned it an X. It was the second, less gore-filled cut that has become one of the defining horror movies of all time. Filmed on a now-preposterous $500,000 budget—money from acquaintances and even the director himself—Dawn of the Dead went on to earn more than $50 million at the box office.

Connections: So respected remains George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead that it has made a popular resurgence among young audiences nearly 30 years later. In 2004 alone, Zack Snyder (300) released a remake while Brits Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) lovingly spoofed Romero’s work in their tribute, Shaun of the Dead.