Friday, November 7, 2014

MR Dawn of the Dead

After the NIGHT, came DAWN...

When there's no more room in HELL, these reviews will walk the BLOG:

Movie: George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead also known as simply Dawn of the Dead and known internationally as Zombi or just DotD and Dawn (its working title being Dawn of the Living Dead) 
Directed by George A. Romero
Release date 1979
Genre Horror/Zombie film
Country USA/Italy

Following the huge success of Night of the Living Dead in the late 1960s, the idea of what would become a second installment in the "Dead series" became the source of a disagreements between the two creators George A. Romero and John A. Russo, what would cause a radical split in the series, each filmmaker going on to follow their own directions and series on their own.

Since the original film ended in the public domain when the crew was unable to retain the rights of the original film due to a misunderstanding with their distributor, it allowed them both to continue making more of these films on each side. Each following its own continuity.

While Romero would go on to produce five more "Of The Dead" films, Russo would do his own "Living Dead" series.

This movie here is a sequel on Romero's side, what would be known as the "Trilogy of the Dead" (that is, until the fourth modern iteration came out). Romero would try to feature some kind of social commentary, usually a critic on consumerism and racism in our society.

This "Of The Dead series" would not be composed of direct follow-ups to one another, in the traditional Hollywood sense of "sequels", but rather spiritual successors in tone and themes. While the story is not followed in each episode, each film being independent from one another, we do get to have a sense of continuity in the worsening of the situation and the state of the world. Each of these films are set in their own era, showing an evolution of the current technologies available at the time (which would not be possible if the zombie apocalypse first happened in the 1970s.). What is interesting with that is that it attempts to portray this zombie apocalypse as real as possible, how actual people would react to this situation and try to live in a world with an increasingly number of living dead roaming around.

George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (originally known as Dawn of the Living Dead in its working title Romero couldn't get from Russo at the time) takes the idea of Night on a much larger scale of what the zombie plague would mean for the world. Setting a more apocalyptic tone this time. The origin of the plague still remaining unknown in Romero's films. The only certainty we have is how reanimated undead act, closely following the rules established in his first film. A viral contamination, reanimated corpses having this urge to eat human flesh.

Story goes, the original idea came after jokingly discussing with a friend if it would have been possible to survive a real zombie apocalypse inside a mall. When words of a sequel arrived to the ear of well renowned Italian horror master Dario Argento, who was a big fan of the original, Argento wanted to help make this production into a reality as much as possible. From securing the rights to even co-producing the picture. The film was then entirely written by George A. Romero, and Argento also helped edit the film (which would result in two separate different cuts of the film).

With Tom Savini back on the special effects, he already provided effects on the first film. Savini himself did a lot of really impressive make-up work, prosthetics and other sorts of practical effects on the film. As such it remains one of the goriest and most memorable entries in the entire franchise.

The film features David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross as our survivorswho barricade themselves inside of what would become one of the most memorable settings in a zombie film to date.

Following an unseen zombie outbreak (mostly taking place the way Night presented it), the United States (or even the entire world?) are infected by a plague that has been reanimating dead bodies. This strange phenomenon turns recently deceased human beings into flesh-eating zombies.

The government completely fails to put a stop to this situation quickly spiraling out of control. The local authorities do even worse, they're unable to contain the situation, and society as we know it seems to finally collapse...

There are a few survivors scattered far and between. People in rural communities try to escape the chaos, the military is ineffective to prevent cities from being overrun.

Following a police raid in apartment buildings, we follow these two SWAT members, Roger (Scott Reiniger) and Peter (Ken Foree), who survive the raid and decide to escape Philadelphia in order to search some shelter while the situation evolves. They're joined by Stephen (David Emge) and Francine (Gaylen Ross) as they escape with an helicopter.

Looking for fuel and other survivors, they end locating this abandoned shopping mall... Have they finally found a sanctuary?

They try to make it a safe habitation. They block the entrances. But soon the undead masses outside... Did they follow them over there or do old habits remain in the brain of thereanimated living dead??

Our protagonists have now been living there for some time. They started cleaning up the place. But one of them was bitten.. he's infected! The mall is now cleaned for the most part. Our four survivors have enough resources to survive for a while. But as time goes by, they're starting to feel like they're really the ones imprisoned there. And now Francine is even pregnant! Should they abort the child?

And if it couldn't get any worse, all broadcast transmissions have ceased from one day to another... Is civilization completely gone?

Finally a gang of bikers come by to loot the mall, having followed the helicopter one day. They cause a zombie outbreak inside the mall! As our heroes try to escape the undead and survive the attack, they're cornered. They're now getting picked one by one. There's even reanimated bikers after them! The zombies break into their hideout, bursting into the room!

There's only two possible outcomes... Suicide or trying to make one last run for it and fly away!

Originally the film was going to have a much darker alternate ending, alluding no one would even be able to make it (and there wasn't enough fuel for the helicopter to go much far).

Speaking of, Dawn of the Dead went through two radically different cuts (not even counting alternate TV edits and whatnot). Alongside Romero's version of the film as he intended it there's also this alternate European cut of the film Argento did for non-English speaking countries. Mostly featuring an entirely different musical score, removing a lot of exposition and giving a much faster pace to the film. It's usually known under the title "Zombi", and this cut's the one that would go on to receive several unofficial sequels over the years (spawning this Italian knockoff series, the "Zombi series" led by director Lucio Fulci amongst others).

The film features a perfect timeless score by Dario Argento himself, so perfect and flawless. Giving such a dread sense of the atmosphere as well some more ironically comical music cues to lighten the mood of this satire film. For Argento's international cut, the Italian director used the band Goblin instead, which gives the film a completely different tone.

Dawn was mostly filmed in Pennsylvania, its primary filming location being the actual Monroeville Mall that would go on to provide inspiration to both the later Zack Snyder remake and Capcom's Deadrising series.

Dawn of the Dead is easily Romero's best film, no doubt. Making such an everlasting impression thanks to a director on top of his game. For once and one of the only rare time, Romero was in complete total control of his production. As such he was truly able to give us his unique vision.

The film makes fun of how empty and shallow America of the late 70s was. We get to see the structure behind society disintegrated. It's such a fun and masterful film.

Dawn easily stands the test of time and can even stand easily apart from the rest of the Dead series.

The film has such great tension.

The dead walk, feasting upon the living. These zombies are shown being slave to their original habits back when they lived, moving out of consumerism. At first their numbers are not that overwhelming and slow enough to show some hope to our survivors. They might just be able to make it! But it's not the undead they have to worry...

The film is fast-paced enough despite its fairly long runntime for the time, there's never a dull moment. Dawn possess such a great memorable final act, it never misses a beat. The characters don't feel like expendable cannon fodder to butcher later like most films nowadays, the entire group is full of actual protagonists we want to see make it through. The cast, despite being made from relatively unknowns, all give a great strong performance through and though. It's so fun to see them clearing out the mall at first.

It was such an ambitious film, and fun. A much bigger and more epic scope, despite the pretty small budget they only could afford. Making the most of the location. And here the zombies are still at the centerpiece, Romero always preferred to use them as metaphors only (which kinda shows in his later films).

From its pretty modest budget, the film would go on to become a huge worldwide success. Receiving so many good reviews and positive receptions at time, something that was unheard from for the genre, all heavy gore content considered!

Overall, it's such a memorable enjoyable experience. A classic, Highly Recommended!

A fantastic horror film with a great sense of social commentary. While Night was just scary, Dawn is more satirical in tone and even has some dark humor to it. But it works great in the context. It.would make George A. Romero's name synonymous with an entire genre!

The film has a great production values, it was beyond anything that had been seen on screen at the time. It would also help establish Savini as a staple in the industry for all things special effects and gore. Dawn might be over 30 years old now, but it's a timeless classic that still looks amazing to this day!

It's also the infamous episode in the series that would use and popularize the now classic tagline: "When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth".

Dawn of the Dead spawned many more sequels, both official and unofficial Italian B-movies as well as countless other movies, games and comics all more or less inspired. And ripoffs. As well as many parodies and all sorts of references in our pop culture decades later. It easily became a landmark in the genre and the entire movie industry for what it accomplished.

A direct official remake would be released in 2004, written by noneother than a Troma alumni, James Gunn.

Easily one most of the most memorable horror films that left a huge mark on the genre, becoming a huge phenomenon for ages. One of the most original and best horror movies ever produced.

I give it:
3 / 3 Necronomicons!

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