Monday, March 10, 2014

No Room At The End!

Having freshly feasted on the classic Night of the Living Dead , I had a hankering to re-sample Dawn of the Dead, the belated sequel to the classic horror flick. Dawn of the Dead from 1978 has a somewhat bigger budget than its predecessor and is in glorious and "gorious" color. One of the things which has long put me off about zombie movies is the gore; I'm not dismayed or shocked by it, but I find it mildly disgusting and often so gratuitous as to undermine the terror of a scene.  The gore in this movie hits about the right note, over-the-top and in certain moments overdone, but by and large reasonably appropriate to the tone and themes of the movie.

For the few who might not know, this is the one which begins about the same time as Night of the Living Dead, but in the larger city of Philadelphia in which we see the steady decline of organized society by first watching a TV station fall apart, then witnessing the police become overrun by the zombie threat, a threat they clearly have no firm understanding of at all. A quartet of survivors helicopter out and find a mall (a relatively new concept in the late 70's) and discover refuge there. They work mightily and not without consequence to make the mall something of a "home" but soon are discovered by all-too-human raiders who spoil it all.

The movie is famously a commentary on consumerism and the soulless nature of modern American society,  in which the acquisition of things drives most of us even it seems after death itself. Romero has created a dark dark satire which makes Dawn of the Dead a better and more interesting movie than much of the dull zombie drivel which has bombarded the market in more recent years.

While I think the movie is overlong, it nonetheless presents us with an often hapless group of protagonists who are all to much like what many of us might be confronted with a nightmare of proportion. There is a shred of hope in this often unrelenting film, but it's a slim hope at best.

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