Dawn Of The Dead * * * * 1/2

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Director: George A. Romero.
Screenplay: George A. Romero.
Starring: Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, David Emge, Gaylen Ross, Tom Savini, David Crawford, David Early.

In 1968, director George A. Romero made his directorial debut with the – now infamous – zombie horror film “Night Of The Living Dead“. At the time, it was considered the ultimate gore-fest and has since spawned numerous imitations. Not many have achieved the same standard of that classic zombie movie but Romero himself released this follow-up, ten years later, in 1978 and arguably, it’s as good as (if not better than) his debut.

The epidemic of zombies, who have risen from the dead and are now walking the earth, continues as four survivors of the zombie plague take refuge in a deserted shopping mall. They decide to stay longer than they thought and try to hatch a plan to escape somehow but with the arrival of a gang of militant bikers their security is compromised.

Less of a sequel and more of a remake to “Night Of The Living Dead“, this film benefits from an ingenious and very memorable conceit; four people barricaded in a huge shopping mall while the undead lurk and prey outside. It allows itself to be an allegory of consumerism with a clever and highly satirical approach. It contains an occasional humorous nature but the overall terrifying premise is never compromised. Some of this humour even comes unintentionally, due to it’s cheap budget and sub-par special effects – the blood used looks like vibrant, red, children’s poster paint. However, the low budget only adds to the overall authentic feel and despite it bordering on the ridiculous, Romero’s skill still shines through. His use of tension is excellently delivered, simply by using an extensive series of cuts. Each action sequence is edited in such a way that it is nothing less than highly skilful filmmaking and with Romero assuming both director and editor credits, he deserves the utmost respect. A more sophisticated audience may balk or snicker at the budgetary constraints and abysmal acting but really, it doesn’t matter. The material is so good and handled with such skill that it overshadows any lack of worth or imperfections.

In this particular sub-genre, bad acting and bad effects would normally make for a bad movie but in this instance, that’s not the case. Romero is a master of his craft and this is evidence enough to prove so. Hugely enjoyable, and one of the best, post-apocalyptic, zombie flicks.

Mark Walker

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39 Responses to “Dawn Of The Dead * * * * 1/2”

  1. It’s been so long since I’ve seen this one… did you ever catch the remake?

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  2. I just recently rewatched this. And while I definitely prefer the first film, this one is still a lot of fun for more reasons than one. Great review is always my friend.

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  3. Come to think about it, this is one of the great movie sequels that gets little attention outside of the genre. Romero really re-introduced the zombie concept in new light with the original and this follow-up. A true craftsman, alright. Fine look at this, Mark.

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    • Thanks Michael. Glad to hear you’re in agreement here. It certainly is a sequel that gets mentioned very little on how good it is in comparison to the first. I’d go as far to say, that it’s a tad better.

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  4. I’m not a horror fan, so I’ve never seen this one. I just can’t enjoy the feeling they bring. Nice review though :)

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  5. A classic that I watch at least once every two years. A zombie movie that every other zombie movie needs to compare themselves to. Nice review.

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  6. I’ve not seen this and I’ve not actually seen Night of the Living Dead either! I think I have seen some of Day of the Dead but I may be mixing up my ‘…of the dead’s.

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  7. This is a great flick and I’m a big fan. One day I’ll put up a debate between this and Night of the Living Dead, I think that IS a Great Debate.

    Personally I shake out on the side of the original, but thats not to detract from this one. Youre right, there is a bunch of clever satire/comedy mixed in here very subtly. Plus all the gore and Zombie Apocalypse action you could want and… whats not to love? :D

    Nice post Markus!!!

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  8. Paragraph Film Reviews Says:

    Works on so many levels; chic, gore, B-movie, statement, critique… Can’t believe it’s almost 40 years old, and still as relevant.

    What’s your thoughts on the re-make? I thought it was the perfect updating of the story, but did miss the social slant.

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    • You’ve hit the nail on the head there man. It’s all of those things. You’re also right about the remake missing the social side of things but it was still an excellent update and one of Snyder’s best films. I love them both.

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      • Paragraph Film Reviews Says:

        Ace! Loads of purists / zombie fans slate the re-make because it’s Snyder… I’m sold from the opening scene when mope-face is driving through the devastated neighbourhood – and what film doesn’t benefit from Ving Rhames?

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      • Couldn’t agree more man. The opening of Snyder’s film is one of the best ever. It really grabs you and like you say, Rhames is always reliable. Not seen much of him recently.

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  9. Such an unbelievably awesome zombie flick. They don’t make them like they used to!

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  10. I’m not a big fan of zombie movies Mark, sorry. The only one I’ve enjoyed is Shaun of the Dead but I don’t go out of my way to see a zombie flick. My hubby did see Zombieland and he loved it, I think he’s more of a fan of it than I am, ha..ha..

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    • You’re missing out an absolute classic Ruth. This film has a little of everything in it. You should tell your hubby about, if he hasn’t seen it already. He could watch it and give you the lowdown. Brilliant stuff. :-)

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  11. I love zombie movies but I tend to enjoy modern depictions of the undead a bit better than older ones, if nothing else but for the “scare” factor. I do love the setup of this movie though and appreciate what it did for the genre, so my hat goes off to it :)

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    • I know what you mean Andy. The recent ‘fast’ zombies have been far more frightening but I love the concept of this one. It’s one of my all time favourites of the sub-genre and there have been many good ones.

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  12. I keep meaning to watch this. It just seems like one of those iconic horror movies that deserves a look, even now that we’ve been spoiled by zombie flicks with bigger budgets and modern special effects.

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  13. You catch this late night on TV the other day? I saw it was on, enjoyed it, especially the orangey red looking blood! :)

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  14. Another fabulous review of one of my favorite Horror Flicks :)

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  15. Victor De Leon Says:

    I love this film to no end. Happens to be one of my Daughter’s favorites as well. Great read, Mark! Keep ‘em coming bro!

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    • Thanks again Vic. This is such a good film. One of the very best of the sub-genre and no mistake. I hadn’t seen it in years and was so glad to see it on tv recently. Brilliant stuff!

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