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Dawn of the Dead (1978)
| Directed by:
In this follow
up to George Romero’s classic "Night of the Living Dead"
undead are pretty much ruling the world while displaying endearing and
fierce flesh-eating tendencies. A group of fine folks try to escape the
insanity via helicopter and wind up hiding out in a huge ass mall. Once
there, they face an army of ravenous Zombies, low IQ bikers and most
importantly...their own human flaws. Shop smart, shop S-Smart!
"When there's no more room in hell, the dead shall walk the earth."-- Peter
are many reasons why "Dawn of the Dead" is considered by many to be
"the" most influential and important Zombie party in our solar
system. Having just viewed the 139-minute cut of Dawn again, I was still
crazy impressed by all that Romero accomplished with this film. We get it
all here: well written characters, strong acting by all, a gnarly Goblin
score and graphic Zombie mayhem galore communicated the way it should be:
through chunky red gore (take note Paul Anderson).
make everything even sweeter, these goodies are dipped in a thick, thought-provoking subtext that had me grinning with delight like Hugh
Hefner popping Viagra and nailing yet another set of Playmate twins.
Romero makes a very accurate and hard hitting statement about consumerism
and our attachment to all that is material through this picture. How many
Zombie movies can claim that? Here’s a memorable dialogue exchange that
pretty much nailed the flick’s key theme to a T. Francine says
(referring to the zombies and the mall): Why
do they come here? Her boy Stephen answers: Some
kind of instinct. Memory, of what they used to do. This was an important
place in their lives. The last block of this whack trip; when the
rambunctious bikers start looting the mall, was responsible for bringing
that point home “full impact” for me. I mean, what good are valuables
in a world that’s crumbling under the weight of the dead? Are we so
obsessed and brainwashed into owning “things” that we’ll want them
even at the dawn of Armageddon? In this film’s opinion, the answer is
“yes” and I sadly agree (Note to self: go to mall, buy new clothes--
not because I need them, because I want them).
there’s the film’s grounded, yet sometimes "out there", comedic edge. In
this cut of the movie (they are many cuts of DOTD out there), Romero
isn’t afraid to tap into the macabre humor of the circumstance.
Sometimes he does it while supporting the message of the film; like
showing us clumsy Zombies lumbering aimlessly through the mall, which pretty
much echoes any mall in the world on a Saturday afternoon, and other times he
just does it to be bravely humorous. For example, the unexpected “cream
pie in the Zombies' faces" scene. Holy shite! I didn’t see that
“type” of scene popping up in such a bleak ride! But I have
to hand it to the man...it worked. Not just any schmuck could’ve slapped
such chuckles into a harsh narrative without upsetting the overall
balance of the piece. But King Romero made it happen and I tip my arrow to
Now...although the many potent suspenseful scenes (I was on the edge of my seat
more than once), the incredibly violent carnage, the groundbreaking
special effects (by master and hipster Tom Savini), the shop till you drop
angle and the many enthralling action scenes all contributed in making me
an extremely happy horror enthusiast, the more piercing hook for me was
witnessing the peeps’ varied reactions to the severe dilemma in which
they'd been placed. For example, the rednecks who decide to crack open those beers
and use the Zombies for target practice, the female lead who eventually becomes
the voice of reason (don’t they always-- gotta love women) and the
occasional infantile male “territorial” instinct kicking in to
overcome commons sense in any given situation (hey...it’s happened to me).
I really boogied on the psychological layers of this baby.
only minor pet peeve with this live morgue (and I stress the word "minor", so
don’t bust balls) is the handling of the abortion issue. The movie
brought it up and I found it to be a particularly fascinating question, especially taking into account the state of the decaying world in which the
characters were living (would you bring a child into this?) But sadly, the
film never really brought conflict to that question, feeling satisfied by
solely bringing it up and swiftly letting it go. A more in-depth
exploration of that issue would’ve been nice. Then again, maybe I’m
just being a greedy horror buff. Who knows? Who cares!
In the end,
"Dawn of the Dead" still gleamed like a
polished diamond today and continued to bear the crown of most accomplished
Zombie movie ever (in my opinion, of course...my word isn’t law). This
treasure is a powerful combination of social commentary, action,
comedy, horror, drama-- while at the same time jabbing our skulls
relentlessly with its no holds barred splatter. All that in one movie,
guys! WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT? A BEATING? Let’s
split some Zombie heads open with joy and take out that VISA...we’re
(Peter) underplays it and is all presence. The man's stare can kill! Nice
work dude! David Emge (Stephen) gives a credible performance and hits all
of the right emotional notes. Scott H. Reiniger (Roger) handles his
progression from sane to a little "off" like a trooper (pun
intended); I really dug him. Gaylen Ross (Francine) finds her place in
this sea of testosterone and turns in a strong show. Tom Savini (Blades) is
at his Savini best as the happy-go-slaughter biker. Good shite, Tommy!
How do you want
your steak, kids? FUCKING BLOODY, POPS! YOU GOT IT! We get messy headshots,
gory bullet hits to the body; blown off heads, chunky Zombie bites,
ravenous limb chewing, bone gnawing, gut eating and severed limbs. For
dessert, we get a helicopter blade chopping the top of a Zombie head off, a
screwdriver in the ear, run over Zombies by vehicles, a beheading, a
machete in the face and was it me or was that Hari Krishna undead one
creepy motherfucker or what? Brrr...no donation for you beeyatch!
night tonight. They get buff Ken Foree shirtless. We get Gaylen Ross
topless, but no thanks to the lighting...we can’t see shite. Real sneaky
George Romero is
a not as flashy a director as say...Dario Argento. Here, his style is
mostly to serve the story and not to show off. He does slap in a couple of
stylish zooms, scene transitions and angles though, while at the same time
masterfully building up the tension and cleverly communicating the
humoristic situations. Well done, Master!
The Goblin score
is pleasurably schizophrenic, tapping into many “types” of vibes.
Much like the movie itself, it's at times scary, offbeat, aggressive, low
key or in your face. A solid score in a solid film. NOTE: The score varies
from cut to cut in regards to the many versions of Dawn of the Dead that
are floating around.
Sports the U.S. Theatrical Version (127 Minutes).
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 –
DTS - Dolby Surround 2.0 -
Audio Commentary: George Romero
(Director), Tom Savini (Make Up Effects Guru), Christine Romero (Assistant
Director and George’s wife) and Perry Martin (Anchor Bay DVD Producer
and Moderator) all come in to give us lots of insight on the shoot, the
making of the special effects, comments on specific scenes and more! The
chemistry between all was genuine while the commentary was delivered with
energy and humor. Good stuff!
also get: Trailers (2) - TV Spots (3)
- Radio Spots (9)
- Poster And
Advertising Gallery - George
A Romero Bio and a
Comic Book Preview.
Home runs the Extended “my favorite cut” Version (139 Minutes)
1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1
Commentary: Perry Martin (Anchor Bay DVD Producer and Moderator) asked
all the right questions, getting Richard P. Rubinstein (producer) to
expand upon how the flick got off the ground, the justification of the
violence, the nature of the many DAWN versions out there and more! A meaty
and appealing listen!
also get a Monroeville Mall
Commercial (trippy stuff;
love those 70’s) and Still Galleries (Production
Stills - Behind the Scenes – Memorabilia).
Wines and dines us with the European Version (118 Minutes).
1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby
Surround 2.0 and Mono
Audio Commentary: Actors Ken
Foree, Davis Emge, Scott H. Reiniger and Gaylen Ross erupt in this
animated, trivia-filled and charming commentary. An entertaining and
effortless track that felt a lot like a jolly family reunion!
also get Trailers
(1 Italian Trailer and 2 German Trailers)) - TV
Spots (2) and Posters/Still
Galleries (Lobby Cards,
Pressbooks, Soundtracks, Video Covers).
The Dead Will Walk (75 Minutes):
George Romero, Chris Romero, Gaylen Ross, Dario
Argento, Tom Savini and many more
who were involved in the production come in today to yap-yap about their
experience on the film then, and their feelings about the movie now. It
was grand to see how the cast members currently looked and to hear their
present perspective on that little film they worked on eons ago. A groovy
Frumkes’ Document of the Dead (92 Minutes): This
psychedelic and dare I say “experimental” documentary was shot in 1978
and offered an in-depth and detailed look into Romero’s cinematic
background and all that was the "Dawn of the Dead" adventure.
What an odd, yet satisfying, viewing experience…get the “Bong” for
Set Home Movies (13 Minutes): Undead
extra Robert Langer, narrated the home movies (16 mm) that he shot while
on set during the making of Dawn. Sweet little vintage bit that gave me
some trivia and a random look at what it was like to be on the Dawn set!
Mall Tour (12 Minutes): Reunited
cast and crew hit the mall where Dawn was shot with a video camera to
explore and reminisce at specific locations. Although "all over the
place" and low on info, this feature was kool and answered the age
old question: What would happen if you let Ken Foree loose in a mall with
a video cam on his ass?
DVD pack also came with a Booklet containing
info on the various versions/extras and a slick Dawn of the Dead Comic
can I say? I’m all “Dawned” out and craving to chew on raw meat!
This is, without a doubt, the definitive “Dawn of the Dead”
DVD! If you’re a fan of the film, you must own it! If you don’t have
the dough, hit the mall and steal it! Yes...it’s that fulfilling! When
there’s no room in hell, this DVD will kick your ass!
In my world,
"Dawn of the Dead" is the "be all, end all" of Zombie movies. The flick made me
think while at the same time, highly entertaining me. I truly believe that no undead opus
will ever top it in terms of its depth, delicious violence and overall
quality; it's one of a kind. Now let’s get ugly; I
have to get this off my machete: To the “individuals” working on
the Dawn of the Dead remake as we speak...WE DON'T FUCKING NEED IT! Write
your own material or better yet, slap that green Romero's way so that he can get
the fourth Dead installment off the ground already! Come on, guys! Isn’t
there anything sacred left in Hollywood anymore? Where’s the respect
that Romero deserves? Sometimes the big wigs disgust me. I’ll end on a
positive note by saying: Keep up the good fight, Mr. Romero and if you need
some muscle, I’ll back you up any day.
film was made on a $2 million dollar budget and filmed
in Monroeville Mall, Monroeville, PA.
children that Peter
is attacked by in the Charthouse were played by Tom Savini's real niece
Pilato, who played Captain Rhodes in Day of the Dead, appears as a policeman
at the boat dock.
the many cuts of Dawn of the Dead that are out there you’ll find: The
American theatrical version (126 minutes), The Long Version
(aka Director's Cut- 139 minutes
Italian Version (edited into a more action-oriented film by
Dario Argento- 115 minutes), The
R-rated Version (which
sports over 50 cuts). Which is the best version?
this movie on The Arrow's HORROR BOARD
back to the Arrow in the Head Homestead...
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