Dawn Of The Dead * * * * 1/2
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.