Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Director: George Romero

Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reininger

Run time: 2:19

Rant: The year is now 1978. Ten years have passed since the release of the classic Night of the Living Dead. In those ten years George Romero directs a romantic comedy, a witchcraft movie, a virus movie (The Crazies, remade in 2010) and a movie about a vampire called Martin. In Martin, Romero teams up with long-time collaborator and fellow Pittsburgher Tom Savini for the very first time. At this point in time, Savini had only done two movies: Deathdream (1972) and Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile (1974), both directed by Bob Clark. Martin was he and Romero's first collaboration, but it would be Dawn of the Dead that would make Tom Savini a special effects superstar.

Night of the Living Dead was supposed to be a nice little horror film that was only intended to scare the viewer. When it was shown it was interpreted in many ways. Romero realized this and really went for it in Dawn of the Dead. This time his point of view really smacks you in the face. Those scenes are great. Watching these idiot zombies walk around a mall almost identical to the way you see living idiots walk around a mall. It's perfect.

There's an enormous sense of of fun throughout this movie. You can see why there are so many video games about killing zombies. There are four main characters. Stephen and Francine work for a television station while Peter and Roger are SWAT team members. The four escape their respective surroundings and take a helicopter to the roof of a shopping mall. They block all the entrances and kill all the zombies inside, getting the entire mall to themselves. They figure they'll stay there a while until it's time to leave but one of the SWAT guys gets bitten and a bunch of rowdy bikers come and fucking everything up.

The character progression is incredible. Roger seems like a genuinely nice guy and ends up losing his mind. Francine goes from a scared, innocent woman to an agitated bitch. Stephen seems like a really naive idiot who you don't like at all but eventually come to like and Peter mostly stays a cool, level headed leader. 

What surprised me the most with Dawn of the Dead is the action sequences involving the SWAT team. It's only at the beginning of the movie but it's done incredibly well. Obviously the effects are fantastic. The real gory gore doesn't happen until the last half hour of the movie. These people are absolutely shredded. Up until then its mostly dudes and zombies being shot. Night of the Living Dead started the zombie genre but Dawn of the Dead perfected it. This is an essential awful horror movie.

Fun Fact: Tom Savini intended for the zombie's skin to be grey, because Night of the Living Dead was in black and white and he wasn't sure what color a zombie's skin would be. After seeing the movie he didn't like it because on film some of them looked blue.

Total Kill Count:
Rod (7:31) Shot in the head.
Bad Guy (7:48) Shot in the chest.
Bad Guy (7:58) Shot in the chest.
Bad Guy (8:01) Shot in the chest.
Bad Guy (8:20) Shot in the chest.
Wooley (9:41) Shot in the back.
Random Lady (11:35) Bit by zombie.
Swat Guy (11:53) Shoots himself in the head off-camera.
Roger (1:39:46) Dies of previous zombie bites.
Savini the Motorcycle Raider (2:04:58) Shot off of a balcony.
Motorcycle Raider (2:05:23) Shot off of a motorcycle.
Motorcycle Raider (2:06:09) Eaten by zombies.
Motorcycle Raider (2:06:15) Eaten by zombies.
Motorcycle Raider (2:06:22) Eaten by zombies.

Stephen (2:07:54) Eaten by zombies.

             Horror Film: 8
             Entertainment: 9.5
             Gore: 9
             Overall: 8.6