Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Starring David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, Tom Savini
Directed by George A. Romero
Horror/ Zombie Apocalypse
Rated R: Violence


The film opens on a chaotic news studio reporting the events of the zombie apocalypse as it happens. The mood is tense and the situation appears hopeless as we see scientists debating in circles about the current crisis having no definitive answer to the problem.

Our leads, recognizing the danger, manage to escape in a helicopter with the intent of going to Canada. Along the way they land on the roof of a shopping mall, where find supplies, food and shelter and decide to stay. We stick with these four for the whole movie and get to know them and see them change through the situations that they’re up against. Much like “War of the Worlds”, they are able to enjoy the comforts of home, but this soon becomes a theme of the film rather than a derailment. After they work to establish a perimeter defense the comfort they’ve achieved has been earned, but later through a series of montages we discover the futility of their daily living. The isolation is slowly driving them mad despite having all the treasures of the world. Despite some dark turns the film ends on a hopeful note with the remaining survivors escaping from the infested mall and into an unknown, but seemingly hopeful future.


The zombies (they are only referred to as zombies only once towards the end) in this movie are slow and lumbering with silver painted skin and blank expressions devoid of any element of emotion or humanity, and yet they are all dressed up like they were going about to go somewhere and had lives, jobs and purpose before they suddenly died. These zombies are “blanks”; they look human, but have been wiped clean of anything that made them people. Their appearance serves as a haunting mirror of what our survivors stand to lose. It felt almost as if their soul had been wiped away and left behind nothing but the empty shell and is a terrifying concept to even consider.

There is a certain wish fulfillment fantasy when we see our character run through the mall on a shopping spree which helps give the horrific scenario some levity. Not to mention the choice of soundtrack; muzak, providing ironic and happy, chipper tones over the scenes of carnage.

I was shocked in the end by a number of the deaths and violence in the action scenes, a testament to the quality of the characters even if the makeup and gore effects do seem a bit dated by our modern standards.

Final Score:

5 out of 5. Genius.

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