The second part of George A. Romero’s Living Dead series finds four survivors taking up refuge in an abandoned mall after the zombie outbreak seen in Night of the Living Dead reaches epidemic proportions.
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While it is a female of the media and a minority police figure that resolve to "fight" to stay alive, not becoming part of the zombie "body," I can't forget the fact that they retain a "mind" that remains divorced from the 'body' of the masses. Departing the symbolic mall without a solution for reverence towards the dead suggests to me these two maintain a strange privilege they are neither able to escape nor bridge.
This was my favorite movie for a long time, and it made people think there was something wrong with me. I thought of this dystopia as being a different kind of utopia. You don't have to go to work. You don't have to wonder what your life will be like. You have tons of ammo. You kill a bunch of zombies, and then you have a whole mall to yourself! How cool is that?
Not the most subtle movie: if you're ever in doubt that the zombie apocalypse is a metaphor for consumerism, a character will look you straight in the camera and say so. But this conceptual coup is what makes it a classic, rebounding wildly between slapstick and shock, goofiness and terror, and always maintaining faith that a horror movie can have something to say. By all laws of logic it shouldn't work. But it does.
I often forget how fun, hilarious and horrific Dawn of the Dead is. It's also clever and almost perfect. It gives Night of the Living Dead a run for its money but its pretty damn hard to top the original. So many great parts and smart as well.
So many years since I first saw it, and even the most ridiculous moments (like Savini's stunt work when flying through the air like a joyful movie acrobat) are still lovely, morbidly beautiful and chock-full of visionary force.
This is THE defining Zombie film, at least for me anyway, with its powerful opening scene (which feels like the middle of the film) and mix of horror, irony and claustrophobia throughout. I loved this film as a teenager, without having an inkling of half of the messages embedded within it and the more I watch it, the more I get out of it.
Not only Dawn of the Dead but Dawn of a new kind of Zombie film...