Here’s Rich Hawkins back for his first HHR of 2013. And he’s taking a break from books, this week, to review George A. Romero’s classic movie, DAWN OF THE DEAD.
“When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth…”
Well, what is there to say about ‘Dawn of the Dead’ that hasn’t been said before, and by people more qualified than me? Probably nothing, but seeing as it is dark, cold and raining outside, I’m buzzing on Red Bull and I’ve just run out of salted peanuts, I’ll indulge myself and attempt to give a coherent opinion of this classic film.
Following the events of ‘Night of the Living Dead’ society is collapsing upon itself, and the world descends into chaos as the bodies of the dead return to ‘life’ to feast upon the living. Romero creates a great mood of panic and desperation in the opening minutes – I remember watching it for the first time when I was a young lad and being really scared simply because of the fear and creeping terror implied. And I knew what was coming.
I was hooked. The opening minutes still get me now.
At a television studio in Philadelphia, Stephen and his girlfriend Francine plan to steal the traffic helicopter to escape the city. They meet up with two SWAT operatives and flee the city via the helicopter, and eventually find a shopping mall.
You probably know what happens next.
This film has it all – exploding heads, evisceration and scenes of dismemberment. A zombie fanatic’s wet dream. There’s even a Hari Krishna zombie, which is equally terrifying and funny to me. The zombies are slow, slightly comical and almost laughable in some cases, but they’ll still bite your face off if you give them a chance. And even with the copious amounts of blood and flesh-ripping the film resonates with a veiled mockery of consumerism in 1970’s America; there are more levels to this film than an Xbox game, and it’s still relevant now. It was ground-breaking in its time, and is now viewed, rightly so, as one of the finest horror films ever made. Even its ambiguous ending where the survivors escape to an uncertain future is perfect, because in a world in which there are no more happy endings, simple survival is the only thing left to wish for.
But, to me, this film is terrifying not because of the zombies and gore, but because it shows how quickly everything – society and personal relationships – can fall apart.
And that will always stay with me. Along with John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, this is the film that introduced me to the horror genre.
Thank you, George Romero.
It’s just a shame he had to make ‘Survival of the Dead’, but I’ll leave it there…
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