Monday, August 20, 2007

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Starring David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, et al
Not Rated, 139 minutes

One of George A. Romero’s most famous films, “Dawn of the Dead” is a depiction of a world where all of our dead have come to life and strive to feed on the flesh of the living. Stephen (Emge), a helicopter pilot for the local Philadelphia TV station, and Francine (Ross), a technician, decide to flee the chaos in the chopper. During a refuel, they meet recently acquainted SWAT team members Peter (Foree) and Roger (Reiniger) who also decide to run. They eventually take refuge in a shopping mall and attempt to thwart the zombie threat there.

The movie obviously exists not to chill you, but to entertain. The effects are cartoony, there’s social satire and there’s some comedy. Just the idea of going to war in a shopping mall, and having free reign in that mall, is cool and almost worth the price of admission so to speak. Especially when it’s a mall from a bygone era, when a shopping center like this one would be full of interesting stores and features, like an ice rink.

Where it fails in my opinion is in the characters. You do get into them, but a lot of the time for the wrong reason. The decisions they make in practically every situation are bad – just wrong, stupid and life-threatening.


I would watch it again, but likely in the same conditions as this viewing – among friends, making comments. Enjoyed alone it may be even more frustrating. I should note, especially to Romero fans out there, that this is the “director’s cut” that was screened at Cannes. It runs 12 minutes longer than the theatrical one with a little looser pacing in the edits, and features few additional or extended scenes.

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