Monday, October 31, 2011

DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

For my 600th review I figured I might as well review a movie that I love: George Romero's original 1978 zombie masterpiece DAWN OF THE DEAD. I cannot even tell you how many times I see this movie, but it's a bunch. Enough to have it memorized.

The film opens with a brilliant shot of a reddish/orange carpeted wall. The shot pulls back to reveal a woman, Francine, curled up leaning against the wall. She's having an intense nightmare, but the nightmare is most likely a Paradise compared to the Hell she soon wakes up to. She works in a TV studio and everything is in chaos. They're still broadcasting a live show, but the crew is in revolt and most likely nobody is even watching because the world is in the middle of a full blown zombie apocalypse! Fran and her boyfriend, Stephen a helicopter pilot, decide to jet later that night in a stolen helicopter.

We're then at a project apartment building where the tenants have holed up. The SWAT team raids the place to kill the zombies hidden inside. During the raid one of the SWAT pigs goes fucking bonkers and starts killing everybody, living and dead. After the building is cleared out, two pigs, Roger and Peter, decide to to escape along with Fran and Stephen. They do and along the way (to nowhere) they observe some rednecks and Army guys having a good 'ol time while getting drunk and blasting their undead neighbors. After an exciting run-in at a fueling station the four land on the top of a shopping mall to get some much needed sleep.

They soon realize they don't even know where they are going and the mall could actually be a good place to stay until they decide on a concrete plan of action. Like busy little worker bees they systematically go about securing the mall. First learning the layout and safest routes, then stocking up and using nearby tractor trailers to block the doors. Finally they hunt and exterminate all of the zombies that remain inside. Now they got themselves a perfectly safe little kingdom, but for how long will it remain safe...and are the zombies the thing they need to fear the most?

Watching it again now, it is dated, but the story and the characters and the intense drama are all so strong you'd have to be a total dick not to get all wrapped up in the movie and let your imagination run while. Every character that comes on the screen (both humans and zombies) I like to create little stories in my head about how they got to this point. Did you know the baseball player dude killed a little boy he was molesting then during mid-corpse rape the boy came alive and bit the dude's tallywacker off? Well, you would have if you lived in my brain, Stupid! Hahaha. You're so dumb.

The structure of the film is probably the most brilliant thing about the movie. The way all of the action stays on the four main characters and the viewer almost feels like we're an invisible fifth person. Outside of a few understandable (and human under extreme stress conditions) the four do everything that you or I would do and that just adds to the intensity of the film.

There's a few negative things I could say (altered ending, multiple crew sightings), but I won't. DAWN OF THE DEAD is probably the greatest and most influential zombie/ horror films ever made. It is a masterpiece. Watch it...over and over and over and never be disappointed.

Remake

Camera crew visible in reflection.

That sure does look like that one shot used later in PULP FICTION.

I was always curious what happened to this guy once he left the TV station. Brian Keene should write a short story about it.