Dawn of the Dead (1978) Reviewed

DAWN OF THE DEAD ( 1978 )
Widely considered the zombie movie for fans of the genre. I watched it on a lazy summer afternoon in the sixth grade and knew I was seeing something special. The second in George Romero’s Living Dead series ( there are 5 in all as of 2008 ) allows the zombie mythology to evolve across a larger canvas, leaving the Pittsburg countryside for a Pittsburg mall where survivors have sought refuge from the blood-thirsty gut munchers. Much has been made of Romero’s “social subtext”…consumerism turns us into zombies…WE’RE THEM!…blah, blah, blah. Whatever. It’s a bit heavy handed in some places and overall Dawn is too damn long with too many talky scenes (a consistent problem with Romero’s series) to be edge-of-your-seat viewing. But all of those things aside — Dawn contains some of the best gore anyone had seen before 1978 (H.G. Lewis flicks aside). There are lots of good throw-away gags and plenty of ironic laughs and the acting is decent. The riotous opening scene is a panicky exodus from a city that’s rapidly breaking down. We watch the drama play out in a local TV studio, the ghetto and then it’s on to the above-mentioned suburban consumer wasteland. Make-up and special-effects king, Tom Savini did the savage effects and appears in a significant role as a biker. He’d go on to do effects in Day of the Dead (and damn near every other horror movie in the 80s) — the next in the series…and believe me – it’s an evolution. Dawn‘s zombies are blue faced ghouls whose attacks fill the screen with a spray of a very Hammer-esque unnaturally orange blood. Day‘s are…well, better. Dawn was remade (and improved upon, imho) in 2004. This one is the classic though and no self-respecting horror fan would miss it.
***

~ by Number5ive on August 19, 2008.

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