DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978, Color)***** out of *****
A full ten years after Night comes DAWN OF THE DEAD, a wonderful view into a hellish America. Though not as scary as Night, the story has got to be one of the best the world of horror has ever seen.
The plot involves News Station WGON director (??) Fran, her traffic reporter lover (boy I hate using that word to describe two people going out), and two SWAT team members, Peter and Roger. Stephen decides that the smartest thing to do is to "borrow" the WGON chopper, and head up north with Fran and Roger, possibly to Canada, just to find a place to survive. Roger brings a SWAT friend along, Peter, and they're off. After going on a scavenger hunt for food, fuel and safety while going North, the quartet finally happens upon a huge indoor shopping mall. The only problem: it's overrun with zombies. After spending a few hours hiding and sleeping in the storage department of the mall, the SWAT troopers Peter and Roger decide to venture into the mall, to try and collect anything useful for the quartet. After nearly getting themselves killed, Peter, Roger and Steve realize that everything they ever wanted is right here in the mall.....food, supplies, etc. Everything, including almost inpenetrable protection (euuuuuuuu, that sounded gross). The group decides that they will block the entrances with trucks, and destroy all zombies in the mall and lock the doors.....and succeed. They now have the mall to themselves, everything they possibly ever wanted in life. After a while, the world of the mall begins to eat at each one of them, dulling them down, making them drones just like the zombies outside, just pointlessly living day after day after day. They still continue to be the kings of the palace, that is until a brigade of bikers decides they would like some of the mall's goodies....
Now, I can't quite put my finger on the message here. I think all who watch DOTD just *know* what it is upon watching it, and can't describe it in words, but here goes. I think it has something to do with the materialistic ways of we humans. We love our malls, we love our clothes, we love our luxuries....but beyond that I can't really figure out what the f*cking message is. Is it a "too much of a good thing" type message, or is it just defining the fact that we humans are materialistic beings? I think both. But in any case, this film is so well executed that it doesn't really matter what the hell the message is. The acting is wonderful, the camerawork is (almost) seamless, and an "outsider" to the world of Romero can even tell that the directing is that of a very talented man (go Romero!!!!!!)
The spirit of the movie has to be the most vivid and awe-inspiring anyone has seen in the history of horror. The story, the setting, the characters, the wonderful, scary, and sometimes even heartwarming music (i.e. The Hunt), the situations, the grittiness, the dialogue, and the scares are all the ingredients that make this movie my favorite flick of all time. IMHO, NOTLD recieves more recognition over DAWN when it should not. I think NIGHT is a wonderful movie, but DAWN is simply so much better, and this, too, belongs on the AFI 100 best movies list. And like NIGHT, there is absolutely nothing bad you can say about DAWN. Some idiots who can't stand a movie more than 15 years old (you know the type, those F'n morons who say "This is a good movie, for the 80s, 70s, 60s, etc...") can say plenty a bad thing about DAWN, like "it's too gory, it's so low budget, waaa waaa waaa," I know you will probably want to smack the crap out of them (but hold yourself back)....but don't let them effect your views of this great movie, because since when has a small-minded person ever said a smart thing? Whew, I had to get that rant off my chest. Anyway, kudos to Romero, and his crew for this great movie that should, and WILL go down in history.