Friday, October 05, 2007

THE FIFTH DAY OF HALLOWEEN. For today's Halloween movie pick, I decided to go with a DIFFERENT kind of zombie than yesterday's Val Lewton version: George A. Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD.
Now while 1968's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is still Romero's best "Dead" movie, "DAWN" is right close behind nipping at it's heels (and intestines, natch). After a decade, Romero decided to follow up with this classic dead film which combines some pretty visceral horror with comedy and some more social commentary about the rampant consumerism which would only become MORE rampant as the 70's segued into the 80's and beyond. I mean, what could be better than setting a flesh-chomping zombie movie inside a shopping mall?!?!?! That's right -- nothing. While the acting of stars Ken Foree, David Emge, Gaylen Ross and Scott H. Reiniger will never win any awards, there's something about their performance which rings absolutely true and perfect for this film. Then, of course, you have the groundbreaking special effects by Tom Savini. Oh, and don't forget that fantastic theme music by Goblin and Dario Argento.
Some favourite moments? Well, there are so many in this film. From the first opening shot of a red shag-carpeted wall (you GOTTA love the 70's) and the hysteria inside the TV news studio (with George Romero and his wife acting cameos) and the insane televised debate. Then there's the "refueling the helicopter" scene which features Ken Foree machine-gunning some zombie kids, the famed "helicopter zombie" getting the top of his head sheared off by helicopter blades, that superb shot of the "lumberjack jacket-wearing bald zombie" walking into the doorway to surprise Ken Foree. Of course, then we get to the Monroeville Mall in Pennsylvania - - I'd say this entire REST OF THE MOVIE can be considered one giant best moment! The wild shopping sprees by our four principal cast members interspersed with shooting zombies in the head are simply enormous fun. And who would've thought that SO many extras playing living dead zombies could be SO memorable -- the nurse zombie, the escalator zombie, the screwdriver zombie, the Hari Krishna zombie (!), the nun zombie, the fat guy in the bathing suit zombie. . .the list is as endless as the living dead horde swarming around the Mall waiting to devour someone's entrails. Then there's one of the best zombie portrayals in the history of cinema by David Emge! Combine all this with one of the best movie poster come-on lines since "Beware the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet": "When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth!"
As far as horror movies go, it's kinda hard to top this one. And what's even BETTER is the "Ultimate Edition" DVD which features 4 discs: the U.S. Released Version (which can be considered the director's cut), the Expanded Version, the European version and finally the 4th disc which features simply one of the best documentaries ever made on a horror film. The box set is a little pricey but, if ever something was worth EVERY PENNY. . .
So what better way to get into the Halloween spirit than to take a walk on the Mall side with George Romero and his Living Dead horde.

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