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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Dawn of the Dead (1978)




Spoiler alert… this is my favorite movie. I know I keep mentioning that here at the Horror Dude Blog, but it is the truth. I’m going to try and be honest and critical with my review, but again this is my favorite movie, so you know this is going to be positive. Then again, I think that this one deserves all the accolades that it gets and probably more.

The movie opens up at a television station in chaos. In this mess we meet a couple of our main characters Fran and Stephen, the stations chopper pilot. It is clear that the zombie outbreak hasn’t gone well and that things are beginning to fall apart. This is hammered home when the action shifts to a tenement building under siege by the police and national guard. The people in the building have been protecting the dead from being shot in the head and burned. There is a big gunfight and we see that both sides are losing it. Here we are introduced to the other two characters in the movie, Stephen’s friend Roger and another officer named Peter.

The four of them take off in the chopper and head to somewhere safer. They end up landing on the roof of a shopping mall. What was supposed to be a chance to catch some sleep ends up being much more. The four of them figure out a way to make the place their home, though not without a terrible cost. After holding up there for a while a gang of looters shows up and breaks into the place, bringing the zombies with them. Things go sideways, much flesh is munched, and yet again people screw it up for one another.

Is there anything that I can say about Dawn of the Dead that hasn’t already been said? Probably not but I’ll give it a shot anyway. I think that Romero was a genius because he made his zombie movies about the characters and not the situation. Sure, they are trapped in the mall because of the walking corpses outside, but instead of focusing on that we get to see the characters handle the pressure of the situation not knowing where the danger is going to come from next. Even when they seem safe, they still have to deal with Roger and he decline after being bitten. Toss in the relationship issues between Fran and Stephen as they deal with her being pregnant and you have some interesting stuff going on.

Zombies look great!
Now don’t get me wrong we also get plenty of zombie action in the movie as well. From the initial assault on the tenement building, to the airport sequence with zombie kids, to securing the mall, and the eventual invasion from the gang and zombies there is plenty for the gore hounds to enjoy. Savini shows his chops by giving us screwdrivers to the ears, guts being torn out, arms ripped off, and plenty of biting going on. The blood flows freely and is very red. Many people don’t like the color pallet of the movie with it appearing almost cartoonish at times, but I like it. The seventies were a very bright decade as anyone who ever sat in a lime green or bright yellow kitchen can attest.  

I find it annoying that this movie has gone out of print and is expensive on the secondary market. If you already own a copy, then treasure it. If not, then pray that the man holding the rights eventually is reasonable and makes a deal with a company where both he and they can make money. There is a story here that isn’t worth repeating, you can find it on various news sites on the web. Bottom line is that if you can you need to watch Dawn of the Dead this October.



© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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