Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Dawn of the Dead (Italy/USA, 1978) - Color, Director(s): George A. Romero
MPAA Rating: UR
[UK: 18]
Approx. 127 min.

Z-rating: 5 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 2 stars out of 5

Dawn of the Dead? Why Dawn and not Night of the Living Dead? There's absolutely no denying the monumental influence of George A. Romero's classic, Night was the birth of the modern day zombie. Before that, cinemas only featured voodoo zombies but George Romero made them undead flesh eaters. Well, I'm saving Night for something else I'm doing, so I decided to review Dawn instead.

The second film in Romero's legendary Living Dead series, Dawn of the Dead was also a hugely influential film. This was first one in the series to be in color and the first to feature special effects by Tom Savini, this movie became an international sensation. In Italy, where it was released until the alternative title Zombi, it spawned its own Italian spin-off series of zombie movies beginning with Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2. Not to mention influencing a slew of knock offs like Hong Kong's Bio-Zombie and a ton of Italian-made zombie films like Hell of the Living Dead.

Following the outbreak of undead flesh eating corpses in Night of the Living Dead, it has now become a nation-wide epidemic. A couple that works for a TV station plan to escape using the network's helicopter, meanwhile a SWAT team is raiding an apartment building where the tenants are hoarding their dead. Two members of different SWAT teams decide to join the news couple in their escape and the four are off. They fly around for awhile before finding a shopping mall to hole up in while they gather supplies. Some people have interpreted the mall setting as social satire on consumerism but it makes a great setting for a zombie movie. They eventually find a way around the mall through the heating ducts and start the painstaking process of blocking off the entrances. Once everything is finally set up, that's when the real fun begins! They get to run around the mall trying on clothes, playing games at the arcade, and going on an endless shopping spree. For awhile, it seems like the ideal situation, until a biker gang shows up to loot the place and turn everything upside down. Everything the original group worked so hard to build is left in shambles after a matter of minutes.

Nudity: None that I can think of

Gore: This movie features the early work on Tom Savini but any time that Savini is involved, you're pretty much guaranteed a ton of gore. From the very beginning of the movie, you can see how awesome the bite effects look when a zombie bites a woman in the apartment building. There's also an awesome headsplosion effect when one of the SWAT guys goes apeshit and blasts a tenant with his shotgun. Tom Savini is actually in the movie as one of the bikers, he's the one that puts the machete into the zombie's head during the mall raid.

Awesome: to the MAX! George Romero's original Living Dead trilogy are some of the best zombie movies around. You can still see the influence of these movies today. Dead Rising was a game for the Xbox 360 that paid homage specifically to Dawn of the Dead, taking place entirely in a mall during a zombie outbreak. Call of Duty: Black Ops was a first-person shooter that featured a Nazi Zombie mode. In an expansion map pack, George A. Romero himself was featured as a non-playable enemy boss character. Dawn of the Dead is also the only one of the original trilogy to be made successfully remade. The original was followed by Day of the Dead, which also featured Tom Savini's special effects. In fact, it arguably has the best special effects of any zombie movie to date. Zombies have become extremely popular in mainstream with comics, video games, movies, TV shows, events, and merchandise of all kinds devoted to them. All owing George Romero and his original Living Dead movies for inspiring what has become a sub-culture all its own.