Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

IMDb plot summary: Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.
Directed by George A. Romeo. Starring David Emge, Kem Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, and Gaylen Ross.

(Mild spoilers about the ending plot.)

I saw the remake of this movie earlier this year, and I saw the original Night of the Living Dead several years ago. I really enjoyed them both. This one is a little further down on the scale, though it does a few things that I thought were very interesting. I like that it takes place over a decent period of time. You get the sense that these characters live in this mall for several months (guessing by the pregnant woman's progress, anyway), and that's something I haven't seen in a lot of zombie flicks. You see how they adapt from normal lives to "well, I guess we live in a mall with zombies now" and how they try to keep themselves sane in the process.

I also REALLY enjoy the mall setting. I think of malls as busy, energetic, fast-paced places, and seeing it mostly empty aside from a few wandering zombies is extremely creepy to me, like a ghost town. The zombies in the remake were faster -- really, everything about that movie was faster -- and while I liked that too, I enjoyed that this was a distinctly different tone.

That being said... the movie went on FOREVER. Apparently there are a few different cuts of it, but the one I watched was 2 hours and 19 minutes, and good chunks of that were just... not interesting to me. For example, even though it worked as a plot device to set the final scene in motion, I was not interested at all in the 20-minute biker gang attack. This movie is too slow to match the fun action-y pace of the 2004 remake, but nor does it build a suspenseful atmosphere as successfully as Night of the Living Dead.

I hoped I'd like this a bit more than I did. There are some good things going on here, and I liked it OK overall, but I really do prefer the others I've seen in the series.

3 stars.

Flickchart: #851 out of 2195, below Now You See Me and above Peter Pan (1960).

(What's the picture? Well, I'm doing a new thing where, whenever I can, I end the review with a screenshot of my favorite moment in the movie -- often my favorite moment visually, but sometimes just my favorite scene or favorite character. I've been doing this in a Facebook album and thought I could incorporate it into my reviews as well. Hopefully this will remind me to actually take the screenshot more often.)

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