Film Review: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

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Ten years after putting zombies in vogue with Night of the Living Dead, George Romero did it again, and with the same success. Never content to make a zombie movie that is just a zombie movie, Romero infuses Dawn with a statement on the soul-numbing effects of crass commercialism. It’s excellent fodder for college essays, but the message isn’t too overbearing. Dawn functions first and foremost as escapist fare, a kind I particularly enjoy. I mean, zombie apocalypse or no, how cool would it be to hole up in a giant mall?

Dawn also benefits from the same claustrophobia and documentary-style filmmaking Romero employed in the first film. On the downside, the makeup effects by Tom Savini are surprisingly mediocre. The zombies have blue skin, and the blood is a bright, unbelievable shade of magenta. You’d think sub par makeup would sink a zombie flick, but the movie is so compelling otherwise that fans and critics alike are more than happy to overlook any imperfections. I don’t mind the makeup, but I do have issues with the music. I like the original music composed by Goblin (of Dario Argento fame). But for the domestic release of the film, Romero replaced a lot of their work with generic stock music that doesn’t match in tone or style. Still, Dawn of the Dead succeeds in transporting me to a state of fear and isolation in a materialistic fantasy world, and I’ve never seen anything else quite like it.

Rating: 4.5/5 ★★★★½ 

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About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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