HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Auschwitz Escape, The
Jungle Fever
Great White
Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The
Raya and the Last Dragon
Letter from Paris
Behind the Mask
Lucky
Matrix, The
Undergods
Betrayed
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
Cowboys
Atlantis
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Nomadland
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Threshold
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pusher
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
   
 
Newest Articles
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
   
 
  Dawn of the Dead Dead Good
Year: 1978
Director: George A. Romero
Stars: David Emge, Ken Foree, Gaylen Ross, Scott Reiniger, David Crawford, David Early, Richard France, Pasquale Buba, Tom Savini, Tony Buba
Genre: Horror, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 9 votes)
Review: As the zombie plague continues to engulf the planet, a quartet of survivors – TV girl Fran (Gaylen Ross), her helicopter pilot boyfriend Stephen (David Emge) and two SWAT soldiers Peter (Ken Foree) and Roger (Scott Reiniger) – take refuge in a huge shopping mall, sealing the doors and creating a zombie-free hideout.

George A. Romero’s seminal follow-up to Night of the Living Dead is many things to many people – biting consumer satire, jet-black comedy, breathless actioner, gore-laden splatter epic. Such is Romero’s skill as a director and writer that it manages to be all of these without pretension or strain; 25 years on, the clothes and haircuts may have dated, but Dawn of the Dead’s thrilling energy remains undimmed.

It’s one of the few zombie films where the living dead aren’t in themselves particularly scary. They look silly, they fall over a lot, and Romero mostly shoots them in either broad daylight or the stark fluorescence of the mall; it’s rare for a horror director to be so uninterested in shadow or darkness. It’s their sheer number that frightens, a swarming, ravenous mass that make the set-pieces – the army storming of a Hispanic tenement building, the sealing of the mall’s gates, the climatic battle against a gang of marauding bikers – so gripping. The zombies are there from minute one; there’s no introduction, no explanation – what Romero is most interested in is the way society deals with a crisis like this (badly).

Dawn of the Dead is a long film, but Romero measures the pace perfectly, and the 30 minute stretch where our heroes find themselves safe but increasingly bored inside their consumerist sanctuary comes as welcome relief after the relentlessly action-packed first hour. It’s not that the acting is particularly great – although it’s certainly ok and Ken Foree is a powerful presence – but Romero’s ear for realistic, economic dialogue and his urgent editing keeps things ticking along nicely.

The mall is a brilliant location, not just for the satirical possibilities it offers Romero, but also for creating some clever, unsettling imagery. The director frequently cuts away to show zombies falling over on escalators, playing dead-eyed with now useless dollars, scrabbling hopelessly at the windows of shops. The piped muzak becomes horribly sinister, as does the disembodied ‘special offer’ voice that blares forth from the mall’s tannoys at random intervals. And as Stephen, Fran, Roger and Peter discover, the novelty of having as many of society’s desirable goods as they could ever want wears off pretty quick when there’s nothing on TV, nowhere to spend money and no one to appreciate expensive clothes and jewellery.

The film’s true star is, or course, Tom Savini, who provides a limitlessly inventive assault of day-glo splatter effects. They’re all here – screwdrivers through the ear, rotorblade scalpings, gunshot head explosions, machete decapitations and mass gut-munching, all executed with good-natured zest by director and make-up guru. Naturally, not all of our intrepid quartet make it out alive, but those that do are rewarded with a reasonably upbeat ending.

Dawn of the Dead exists in three distinct versions. The longest, 140-minute cut available on Anchor Bay UK’s Region 2 disc is labelled the ‘director’s cut’, but it’s not really – it’s the version Romero took to Cannes in 1978, and features only a little of Goblin’s excellent score (replaced with library music), plus extended dramatic scenes. The true director’s cut is the 126-minute US theatrical edit, which is tighter and uses more of Goblin’s music, while the version titled ‘Zombi’ is the Continental cut overseen by Dario Argento, which runs for 110 minutes, putting the emphasis on action. In any form however, Dawn of the Dead remains one of the finest horror films in modern cinema.
Reviewer: Daniel Auty

 

This review has been viewed 22644 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

George A. Romero  (1940 - )

American writer/director and one of the most influential figures in modern horror cinema, whose ability to write strong scripts and characters match his penchant for gory chills. The Pittsburgh native began his career directing adverts before making Night of the Living Dead in 1968. This bleak, scary classic ushered in a new era of horror film-making, but Romero struggled initially to follow it up - There's Always Vanilla is a little-seen romantic drama, and Jack's Wife was butchered by its distributor. The Crazies was a flop but still an exciting slice of sci-fi horror, and while the dark vampire drama Martin again made little money but got Romero some of the best reviews of his career and remains the director's personal favourite.

In 1978 Romero returned to what he knew best, and Dawn of the Dead quickly became a massive international hit. Dawn's success allowed Romero to make the more personal Knightriders, and he teamed up with Stephen King to direct the horror anthology Creepshow. The intense, underrated Day of the Dead, spooky Monkey Shines and half of the Poe-adaptation Two Evil Eyes followed. The Dark Half, based on Stephen King's novel, was Romero's last film for nine years, and he returned in 2000 with the strange Bruiser. A fourth Dead film, Land of the Dead, was released in 2005, and lower budgeted fifth and sixth instalments rounded off the decade.

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: