When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth. The tag line for Dawn of the Dead, the second in Romero's trilogy that began with Night of the Living Dead and ended with Day of the Dead (but watch this space as George is trying to raise the funding for another sequel). Dawn begins where Night left off. Chaos reigns supreme. Zombies are rising and searching for food. The police S.W.A.T team are called into the Philadelphia slums where sightings are at the highest. A bloody battle ensues, the police stream in guns blazing, zombies take chunks out of humans and citizens commit suicide to prevent themselves from becoming the living dead, and all this takes place in the opening 20 minutes. Before long a small group of survivors escape in a helicopter to a large shopping mall heavily infested with zombies. Seeing the value of the provisions available they land on the roof and set up a hideout making frequent raids into the stores below in order to steal provisions to survive. It is not long however before a motorcycle gang spot them and try to move in on their turf, and they must fight not only the zombies but the bikers in order to survive.
Now I know that the Living Dead trilogy has a huge fan base, and I am going to state here and now that I have never seen any of them prior to reviewing this disc, so I am about to anger thousands with this next statement. Dawn of the Dead is awful. I watched the movie twice for the purpose of this review, and a third time after researching the movies. I just didn't get it. As a horror movie it doesn't cut the mustard. Horror movies should scare you shouldn't they? Well it doesn't. Sure, there is plenty of gore and some gruesome zombie deaths. My particular favourite is the scalping by helicopter scene, but there is nothing scary about it, indeed it is quite funny. Large parts of the film turn into slapstick. It's hard enough to be scared by “monsters” that are little more than clumsy, slow moving morons, but when the biker gang raids the shopping mall at the end of the movie they attack the zombies with custard pies. I have read essays stating that Romero intended for all three movies to be social satires, with nods towards racism and commercialism. The end of society is literally and metaphorically consumed by commercialism. Bo**ocks! This sounds like a pseudo-intellectual argument for what is ultimately little more than a gratuitous, low budget gore fest. This is a perfectly good reason to make a movie and resorting to rationalisation on the basis of commercialism is like the lamb lying down with the lion. Especially when Romero spends large portions of the director's commentary complaining at how little money he received from his involvement. No, in my view Dawn of the Dead is spaghetti horror, and pretty average at best
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