Dawn of the Dead
(1978, Dir. by George A. Romero.)
Why It's Here:
I could sit here and argue that Dawn of the Dead is one of the least horror movie horror movies out there. We're talking about a movie that runs about 50 minutes longer than the average film of the genre and might not feature a single "jump scare" that would send a teenage girl soaring through the air. But it also has to be the bleakest vision of our world ever filmed. Four people, one mall that represents our old behaviors, and the kind of shambling terrors that modern TV shows wish they could create. With top notch special effects and biting social commentary, it's pretty much a perfect film - that just happens to have zombies in it.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
The opening scenes in Dawn of the Dead are a lot different than what you see in most horror movies. A normal life? A simple life? A false sense of hope? Nope, you won't find any of those things here. Instead, we walk into a chaotic news room where people seem to have written off any hope for society and a run down tenement in which dead bodies and undead bodies are everywhere. Within the first five minutes, we know for a fact that we've walked into a situation where there is no happy ending.
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
I'm gonna tell you a secret. I don't really like Day of the Dead. Yes, Romero's third Dead film continues the complete dread that we get in this one, but all the cinematic aspects - from the acting to the direction to the script - feel wrong to me. A lot of people disagree with me, so maybe you want to put that one next to this one. Me, I'd probably say you could watch the 2004 remake alongside it. It loses some of the pathos of the original, but is a fast-paced blast with strong characters and plenty of gore.
What It Means To Me:
Dawn of the Dead has always been one of my favorite films of any genre, because it packs an apocalyptic edge that is unmatched in most of cinema. It's fascinating in its bleakness, but it's also thoroughly entertaining and a bit humorous and there's even that Goblin musical score. Oh! That Goblin musical score. Man, I love that Goblin musical score. So good.