Dawn of the Dead
Director: George Romero
The quintessential zombie flick that mixes gore, black comedy and social commentary, to mixed results. Despite the 10 year lag in release dates from the first film Night of the Living Dead, this one picks up pretty much right after the outbreak of zombie hordes occurs. And it's a hell of a lot gorier than the first.
Starting off in the panic seen through the eyes of a television station trying to keep the public informed, it's obvious that modern society is crumbling. It's beyond the scope of normal human comprehension, and it's starting to sink in even for those who see the world through the glass teat. The copter pilot, his girlfriend from the station, and some associated friends take flight, trying to get away from the madness. Trouble is, it's everywhere. But they manage to find refuge in a shopping mall, and do their best to turn it into some kind of deranged normalcy (and good thing it's back when a gun shop was still part of the mall clientele). But despite the facade they build around them, chaos and zombies still have a way of shattering the cocoon they've built up around themselves.
This is truly the second chapter of the (for now) trilogy by Romero. It has some nicely done "reality" situations mixed in with the rest. As much as I like the film, it still comes off as pretty dated. The ghetto scenario and consumerism digs are nice touches, but are a bit out of place. I guess I'm a bit tainted, as I did watch the recently-done remake and enjoyed that pretty well from what I can remember. Only a couple of beers and its looming DVD release will tell for sure. But this is still a good zombie flick to catch, especially if you drink every time a zombie takes a headshot. Plus Tom Savini not only does the creature effects but even has a small acting role as well.
Great Scene: From a personal standpoint, it's kinda amusing to watch the opening sequence at the television station because, well, it's all really fucked up, and even though I didn't work in the industry in the late 70's, seems like it's pretty spot on (like the producer frantically screaming at everyone to get back to their stations while wondering how the hell he can run all the equipment himself).
DVD Notes: While cashing in on the recent remake of the film, Anchor Bay did put out a good "Special Edition" of the U.S. theatrical release in early 2004 with some nice extras and exceptionally cool menus. It includes commentary with director George Romero, Tom Savini, AD Chris Romero, and moderated by Perry Martin (yet to be listened to, sorry, ran out of time here), TV spots (!), radio spots, trailers, and a nice little collection of posters and newspaper adverts from its initial release. Also included is a decent bio on Romero and a comic book "preview" which is pretty fuckin lame considering all it shows is a 2-color cover shot, but Steve "30 Days of Night" Niles is involved, so it may be kinda cool. If all this isn't enough for you, the good folks at Anchor Bay are planning on putting out a 4-disc (holy fuckballer!) edition toward the end of 2004. Go nuts. I dare you.