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[personal profile] innocent_man
Dawn of the Dead is the second in Romero's "of the dead" series, taking place sometime after the events of Night of the Living Dead. The zombie problem has been spreading, and the cities are getting worse, largely because of conflict between people who don't see these things as dead bodies, but are unwilling to let go of the notion that the zombies are still their loved ones. The disease spreads, and our four protagonists (Stephen, a helicopter pilot; Fran, his girlfriend; Roger, their National Guardsmen friend; and Peter, another guardsmen that saves Roger's life during a raid).

The four of them land on a shopping mall and figure that if they can block zombies from getting in, they can live comfortably. The proceed to do that, though Roger is bitten and turns in the process. This leaves Fran (who is pregnant), Peter and Stephen to grow complacent and lonely in their little corner of autonomy - until Tom Savini and a bunch of bikers show up, kick in the doors, kill Stephen and drive Fran and Peter away.

While the remake of Dawn of the Dead (which is next on the list) is kind of watered down as far as social commentary goes, this version is all about consumerism. The characters point out again and again that the zombies don't need to be here, they're just following some instinct. "This was an important place in their lives," Stephen says gravely. And when the bikers show up, they don't take food. They take clothes, jewels (seriously, they hold a zombie down to steal her rings) and TVs...though there's nothing to watch (and no DVDs, this being 1978). And a bunch of them get eaten in the process. But Stephen gets shot and zombified, not because the bikers are looking for him, but because he shoots at them - defending the mall.

As a point of interest, though Fran and Peter live at the end, the original script called for Peter to shoot himself (his gun is at his head in the final scenes) and Fran to behead herself in the helicopter rotors, the thinking here being that the world is cursed and these characters don't want to live in it anymore. While I see that, I also think that would have been really sodding bleak (especially since Fran is something like seven months pregnant at that point, based on her belly), so I like them flying away in the copter. The Captain America music when Peter decides to live rather than die, though, is a bit much.

The effects have held up fairly well - the zombies are kind of blue (the effects get gorier and generally better in Day of the Dead), but the movie does a good job of taking the to scary to comical and back to scary again. And, of course, we have this movie to thank for Dead Rising and large parts of Left 4 Dead, so that's cool.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium. It's long through the middle.

Next up: Dawn of the Dead (2004)

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