Dawn of the Dead
(1978)











Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 2 Hours and 19 Minutes


Reviewer: Erik
Grade: A

Mention to someone that you like horror films and chances are, they'll roll their eyes. And, to some extent, who could blame them? We've had countless killers wiping out legions of co-eds, campers, party-hearty types, etc. A lot of blood has been shed, usually in movies with basically no plot, almost always not a shred of decent acting, and usually in a by-the-numbers fashion that concentrates more on gore than actually scaring the audience.

"Dawn Of The Dead", the greatest horror movie ever made, doesn't forget that a horror movie doesn't have to stoop so low in order to set the mood. Yes, it's gory, especially in the ending sequence. But it's not all gore. The opening passages introduce us to the plague that's turning the dead into the undead, hungry for human flesh. We see police officers re-killing people they've killed just minutes earlier. We see rednecks popping zombies and chugging beer. We see television reports about the plague, and religious types declaring war on the undead. George Romero is smart enough to set the stage with these things instead of endless gore.

The movie turns into a battle for survival, as a group of people settle inside a shopping mall to protect themselves from the zombie army waiting outside. In a nice realistic touch, the group eliminates the zombies inside, then grow bored by the hour, and much of the middle part of the movie concentrates on the small talk and chatter that goes on within the group. But when a renegade biker group decides to invade the mall, it opens the doors for the final battle, as hundreds of zombies make their way indoors, slowly but surely finding their way to their next meal.

The final battle is gross, yes. Particularly graphic and gory. And yet, I didn't mind. In a way, this really is a war movie. There's more action than scares, and as in any battle, things could get pretty disgusting in the end. Don't hold the violence against the film simply for being a horror movie. It's necessary, at least to some extent.

Sometimes, a horror movie can be effective just by atmosphere and the classic man-against-monster scenario. The makers of "Dawn Of The Dead" realized that. Too bad other horror movie makers don't.