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Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth
Director – George A Romero

Writer – George A Romero

Starring – David Emgee, Ken Foree, Scott H Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, David Crawford, David Early, Richard France, Howard Smith, Daniel Dietrich, Fred Baker, James A Baffico, Rod Stouffer, Jesse Del Gre, Clayton McKinnon, John Rice

Review by The_Void

An undeniable masterpiece of cinema,
Dawn of the Dead is concrete proof that extreme gore and violence doesn’t always equal a dumb movie and that the two can make very nice bedfellows indeed. This film is a rare thing in that it will please both gorehounds and fans of art cinema, and there isn’t a vast amount of films that do that.

Aside from doing what I’ve just mentioned, this follow up to Night of the Living Dead established George Romero as a household name in many a gore fan’s home and his trilogy of zombie films will ensure for ever more that the name ‘Romero’ and the zombie film will always go hand in hand. The plot of this film follows four survivors of the zombie apocalypse that has ensued after the events of Night of the Living Dead as they hold up in a shopping mall to try and hide from the events going on in the outside world. However, this poses another problem, as once their home has been built up in the midst of the atrocities; will our hero’s be able to give up all that they have built?

The commentary on society and the trappings of consumerism that Romero appears to be keen to implement in his film come off as being somewhat muddled, due to the fact that it’s lost under the reality that what we see our hero’s doing makes absolute perfect sense. This, however, is where the genius behind the commentary comes into play; it’s a depiction of what people within a consumerist society would do in this situation, which makes the commentary all the more potent.

Despite it being a film about zombies, Romero implements a sense of realism into the proceedings, which works due to the fact that he never overindulges in anything. Sure, the gore towards the end is over the top; but even that is realistic as it is what you would expect a zombie massacre to be. Because of his sense of realism, we are able to care for the characters that Romero has presented us with, even though we really know little about them. The audience is able to put themselves into their situation and we are constantly given the feeling that we are actually involved in the events on screen. This makes the ending of the movie more potent by way of the sense of security that Romero has lulled you into throughout the movie, and at the end; we really feel for what is happening to our characters and even though we want to see the massacre happen (as that’s why we’re watching the film at the end of the day), we sort of don’t want to see it at the same time.
This kind of mind-game isn’t carried off successfully very often, but Romero has it down to an art form here.

The movie benefits massively from a great score by Dario Argento’s house band, Goblin. In fact, with the obvious exception of Suspiria; I would even go as far as to say that this is their best work ever. The score blends so well with the happenings on screen that it’s impossible to have one without the other.

Some films have a superfluous score, or one that doesn’t add anything to the film; but it’s undeniable that the score of Dawn of the Dead not only adds to what we’re seeing, but ‘makes’ it. As many people will be tuning in to see gore, I am pleased to tell you that this film doesn’t disappoint in that respect. It’s one of the goriest films ever made, with many sequences reaching a level of disgustingness that is rarely seen in cinema (intestine dinner, anyone?). As you are probably aware, Tom Savini did the make-up effects for Dawn of the Dead and it is the film that made his career and established him as the gore guru that he is often seen as today. The film is also notable for a certain line that has been quoted more times than any other line uttered in any other horror movie. I am of course talking about the fabulous; “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth”.

Dawn of the Dead is undoubtedly one of the most important films ever made. It inspired a barrage of rip-off’s that are still being made today and it stands tall on many a horror fan’s list of favourite horror films. Dawn of the Dead is one of the most recent films to inspire a remake and, unfortunately, it turned out to be terrible. Not that it matters, as the original is where it’s at; and this film is an undeniable masterpiece.

Review by Theo Robertson

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Compelling Despite Its Short Comings,
If this review is lacking then apologies but I find it a difficult film to review mainly down to the fact I’ve seen it umpteen times since the early 1980s. Unfortunately I first saw it on video which meant DAWN OF THE DEAD gets lumped into the rest of the video nasties that came out at the same time. In fact all my peers believed it to be a sequel to ZOMBI FLESH EATERS when it’s a sequel to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Incidentally most of those same peers liked ZOMBI FLESH EATERS but positively hated NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

It’s certainly flawed, as is everything Romero has done. The acting is amateurish and it’s no surprise that the cast didn’t go onto bigger things. The technical aspects suffer badly from the lack of budget like the sound where it’s sometimes difficult to hear the dialogue while the editing is all over the place in some scenes and as for the make up it’s sometimes laughable or sometimes non existent. All this is a great pity since there is a truly great story in here somewhere. If truth be told DAWN suffers from the fact that like 28 DAYS LATER the zombie element overwhelms the main story which is trying to be a gritty and realistic survivalist drama along the same lines as Romero’s earlier bleak and depressing THE CRAZIES. Despite the flaws this an intelligent film which concentrates on human interaction and relationships.

By the way the BBC showed the director’s cut last night and I can see what the problem was with it. I really enjoyed the exploding head but there are far too many scenes where the camera lovingly lingers on the gore. The gore isn’t distressing in anyway but as I said it’s unintentionally laughable as zombies tear open stomachs and stuff that looks like cooked macaroni pops out of victim’s bodies

Review by Jack Gatanella

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Still my favorite horror film…,

George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was groundbreaking, satirical, but it was above all else just a fun kind of movie to watch when I was younger. It’s also on the films that I count as having re-watchability, even with all of the gore and violence and chilling factors in the film. It combines a kind of documentary feel sometimes (newsreels come to mind when the zombie montages in the mall go on), but is also very un-real at the same time. The gore, courtesy of make-up impresario Tom Savini, is of the comic-book kind, where it’s all very real and horrifying until you realize the color is off on the blood and the color on the faces of the un-dead is off.

I could go on and on about this film, but the key thing is to see it, even just once. You may find it out-dated trash, or time-less beauty. Either way, it’s likely Romero’s best film, or at least his most ambitious (though I’ve yet to see Knightriders to comment fully). Energy, humor, sadness, excitement, love, loss, it’s everything a movie should be!

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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