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Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
Movie Review by The Mortician

Dawn Of The Dead (1978) The granddaddy of splatter zombie movies, ushered in by George Romero with this excellent, timeless sequel that every zombie movie since has cribbed from. Growing up, I was obsessed with this movie, cutting out ads in the paper when they'd run and pasting them in notebooks, writing "reviews" on the movie even though I'd never seen it. I read about it in mags like FANGORIA and imagined how sick and twisted an "unrated" movie might be with the NO ONE UNDER 17 ALLOWED IN plastered all over the posters. Finally, I got my hands on the novel and read that when I was eleven years old...Finally, five years later with the advent of BETA VIDEO, I finally got my hands on a copy of DAWN OF THE DEAD. Man it delivered! For me, it's the STAR WARS of zombie horror films, delivering on every level. WHEN THERE'S NO MORE ROOM IN HELL, THE DEAD WILL WALK THE EARTH. They come back from the graveyard or recently deceased, and they wanna EAT YOU. Run, fight, and hide, people. That's the story, a continuation of Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD concept some 10 years later. A band of heroes flee to an abandoned shopping mall, blockade themselves in, and prepare to defend it from zombies and crazed biker scumbags on the prowl. Splendid characters, you love them: pregnant Frannie, Flyboy (helicopter pilot) Stephen, Crazy Roger, and levelheaded Swat Team Dude Peter. The interaction and friction between the group is great, you come to root for them all, even as they become overwhelmed with consumerism in their mall fortress. Of course, when they get offed by the evil zombies, each one...you feel the pain. Gore effects: Tom Savini in his prime, collaborating freely with Romero in some of the best and most fun gags committed to celluloid. There's head explosions (a Savini staple back then!), machetes to the head, helicopter blades chopping heads off, stabbings, flesh torn from the bone by teeth, screwdrivers jammed in ears...it's almost like a BEST OF GORE GAGS flick at times. Stellar acting, great music (by Goblin and Romero's classic library music placement, even using a cue from NIGHT during one scene!), and even slapstick moments expertly balanced by Romero and his collaborators. Co-produced by legendary Dario Argento, DAWN '78 represents one of the best horror and zombie films ever made. Without it, there would be no 28 DAYS LATER, no WALKING DEAD, or much of the genre that we know today. This one is the genesis of it all, really. One nagging question I have- since brick and mortar malls are so...outdated nowadays, replaced by on-line consumerism, where would our group hide today in a current remake? Perhaps an Amazon wareheouse? Also, Gaylen Ross supposedly popped her top for a scene in this movie but the angle is so far away and darkly lit that I've never been able to ogle her naked breasts properly, so...shame on Romero for not doing a gratuitous close-up or two of his topless leading lady. Also, talk about the lamest bedroom scene between a couple...I know the context is they hate each other but come on...a little aggressive fucking to relieve the stress would've been nice to enjoy. Otherwise, a nearly perfect film, nearly 40 years later!!!! Romero is the George Lucas of zombie splatter, and my favorite cut of DAWN (there are three or four versions out there) still seems to be the classic 127 minute theatrical version. While the others are interesting and cool, this is the one I grew up with and seems to have the best pacing and music placement.

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