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October 15, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #8 - Dawn of the Dead

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness  Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad  Number 46 - Hellraiser  Number 45 - The Fog  Number 44 - Creature From the Black Lagoon  Number 43 - Zombie  Number 42 - Tales from the Crypt  Number 41 - Bubba Ho-Tep  Number 40 - Phantom of the Paradise  Number 39 - Dog Soldiers Number 38 - Pontypool  Number 37 - Dark Water  Number 36 - Army of Darkness Number 35 - The Legend of Hell House  Number 34 - Poltergeist  Number 33 - The Abominable Dr. Phibes  Number 32 - The Phantom of the Opera  Number 31 - The House of the Devil   Number 30 - Evil Dead II  Number 29 - Dead of Night  Number 28 - Carnival of Souls  Number 27 - Nosferatu  Number 26 - Candyman  Number 25 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre  Number 24 - Horror of Dracula  Number 23 - The Wicker Man  Number 22 - Suspiria  Number 21 - The Omen  Number 20 - Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told  Number 19 - Rosemary's Baby  Number 18 - The Devil Rides Out  Number 17 - The Blob  Number 16 - Gremlins  Number 15 - Targets  Number 14 - Fright Night   Number 13 - Frankenstein  Number 12 - Alien  Number 11 - The Shining  Number 10 - An American Werewolf in London  Number 9 - The Thing
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.

1 comment:

Kev D. said...

HOLY SHIT! Finally someone else who isn't big on "Day"... I thought I was the only one. To be honest Bub just pisses me off more than anything else. The beginning of the end, to me.

Awesome post. List keeps getting better and better.