George Romero's 1978 follow-up to his classic Night of the Living Dead is quite terrifying and gory (those zombies do like the taste of living flesh). But in its own way, it is just as comically satiric as the first film i... more »n its take on contemporary values. This time, we follow the fortunes of four people who lock themselves inside a shopping mall to get away from the marauding dead and who then immerse themselves in unabashed consumerism, taking what they want from an array of clothing and jewelry shops, making gourmet meals, etc. It is Romero's take on Louis XVI in the modern world: keep the starving masses at bay and crank up the insulated indulgence. Still, this is a horror film when all is said and done, and even some of Romero's best visual jokes (a Hare Krishna turned blue-skinned zombie) can make you sweat. --Tom Keogh« less
Wing J. Flanagan | Orlando, Florida United States | 02/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Zombie movies. Lots of "serious" types look down on them. That's a shame, because some of them are really first-rate films. Dawn of the Dead, the middle film of George Romero's "dead" trilogy, is a case in point. You want zombies, we got your zombies RIGHT HERE! You want blood? Guts? Flesh eating? Oh boy, does Dawn of the Dead ever deliver!And then it does something really unique - it also delivers drama, engaging characters with realistic delimmas, a smartly crafted story, and a heavy dose of dead-on social satire. And did I mention that it's just flat-out scary as hell, too?There is one scene in particular, toward the beginning, that still haunts me - twenty some-odd years after I first saw it. The National Guard has been called in to clear a tenament building. In the basement, they find a cage where the dead have been locked away. The simple, unsettling music of Goblin rises on the soundtrack, underscored by a heartbeat-like bass drum. There are the zombies, many in death shrouds, feasting on body parts. Guardsman Peter Washington (Ken Foree) steps into the nightmare with a pistol to dispatch the zombies with bullets to their heads. The whole thing takes on a surreal, hellish texture, like a Bosch painting. Foree's performance is striking - he is truly IN THE MOMENT, as they say, without a hint of the winking self-awareness we see in other genre flicks. If the dead really started coming back to feed on the living, this is exactly what it be like. This is the toll it would exact on people trying to grapple with the situation.Yet, in a way, Dawn of the Dead IS self-aware. It knows when to step back, too, and admit that it's playing with you. Another scene, of this sort, occurs when we see a group of rednecks hunting the shambling corpses as though they were deer. They sip coffee from thermoses, pass sandwiches around, and banter about their accuracy with their rifles. It's a very funny bit, in part because it's so deadpan. Those are just two favorite examples. There is much, much more to this film, and almost all of it works beautifully. Even the sometimes obviously low budget and gleeful use of library stock music doesn't hurt. Romero turns these limitations to his advantage, by making them serve as searing comments on mass media, consumerism, and pop culture. Performances by David Emge, Scott Reiniger, and Gaylen Ross are worthy of mention, too. They play real people in an extraordinary situation, rather than two-dimensional horror-movie characters.Dawn of the Dead schlock as high art - complex, funny, scary, and engaging. And thank goodness it's coming back to DVD, because it's one worth watching over and over again."
When there's no more room in Hell the Dead will hit the Mall
Dark Mechanicus JSG | Fortified Bunker, USSA | 02/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Shop 'til you drop" takes on literal form in "Dawn of the Dead", Splattermeister George Romero's 1978 magnum opus of the flesh-eating Living Dead. "Dawn" rightly deserves its title as the 'Mount Everest of Zombie Movies'.
The Zombie Apocalypse is all George Romero's fault! And if Grandmaster Romero let the Walking Dead out of their tombs with the groundbreaking "Night of the Living Dead", he gave the zombies the keys to the kingdom in this flick, which laid down all the rules for a Zombie Apocalypse and how to survive It---and, interestingly, managed to break many of them.
Rule #1: AIM FOR THE HEAD!: When "Dawn" opens up, Philadelphia is in its death throes, though the city doesn't know it yet.
The plague of flesh-eating monsters rising from their graves to devour the living has spread from the countryside to the big cities like a firestorm. The slightest scratch or bite causes infection, the infected die horribly, and then return to Life, hungry for the flesh of the living, a mindless Zombie.
Rule #2: THE CAVALRY AIN'T COMING. Things go down and go down hard in the housing project: faster than you can say "tastes like Chicken", SWAT troopers Peter (the great Ken Foree) and Roger (the underrated Scott Reiniger) get outta Dodge with traffic reporter/helicopter pilot Stephen (David Emge, hereafter known as "Flyboy") and Flyboy's girlfriend, Fran (Gaylen Ross).
When the Going gets Tough, the Tough go Shopping.
Rule #3:HE WHO GOES "YEEHAWW" HAS A HALF-LIFE MEASURED IN NANOSECONDS. Romero moves at a taut, brisk pace, letting the feeling of impending doom sink in, the sense of increasing wrongness, all underscored by the brooding, thudding, unearthly pulsing of the Goblin soundtrack.
What's interesting about "Dawn of the Dead" is just how much of a collaborative effort it really was: "Dawn" reprised the team that had helmed "Martin": Mike Gornick on the camera, Romero calling the shots, John Amplas (who played the young vampire Martin) running casting (and who gets gunned down as a rooftop gangsta in a quick cameo), and special spatter effects guru Tom Savini finally strutting his stuff (and getting in some quality screen time with a machete, to boot).
Some have criticized Romero & Crew for lacking artistry in their cinematography, but think about it: "Dawn" was still a low-budget family affair, and Romero's best work has always had an edgy, guerilla feel. But the new print is gorgeous, and clear up any questions about Romero's genius: there is some beautiful stuff here.
Take the scene with the helicopter lifting off against a dying Philadelphia skyline---with the lights in the floors of one skyscraper winking off, bottom to top, floor by floor. Or the nerve-jangling cat & mouse game between Flyboy and a zombie in a darkened engineering room. Or the sere beauty of a Mall parking lot overrun with the Dead hankering for that Blue-light special on human flesh, Aisle 9---all of this lends a brooding, sick, rotten atmosphere to "Dawn". It works in spades, and it's gorgeous, too.
Rule #4: THEY'RE DEAD, THEY'RE ALL MESSED UP. Yes, Romero laid down the "Rules" of the Zombie apocalypse. They move at a lumbering crawl, you put `em down with a blow or bullet to the head, they don't use tools, they're deadly but stupid, they can't learn. Purists judge a remake, or any Zombie flick, according to the rules of the Romero canon.
But take a look at "Dawn" and you'll find something interesting: Romero proceeds to violate---or toy with---nearly every rule about the Living Dead he put forth. You think turbo-zombies first showed up in "28 Days Later"? Not so: zombie kids in an abandoned airport charthouse charge at Ken Foree like they've got a Delorean in their tushses. Zombies can't use tools? Seems one of them finds a wrench very handy in breaking a truck window to take a chomp at Roger.
Rule #5: NO GUTS, NO GLORY. If you love "Dawn of the Dead", you *must* pick up Anchor Bay's lovingly assembled "Ultimate Edition". First off, the print is gloriously restored: the colors are so intense and the picture so clear that "Dawn" looks like it could have been shot yesterday---long gone are the days of cheapo full-screen VHS copies that made early versions of "Dawn" look like porn.
There are four DVDs, tricked out in red and black and handsomely mounted in a glossy package crammed with goodies (including the shot-for-shot comic---nothing special in itself, but a nice addition). You get commentaries with everyone, the original 'Making of' Documentary, a brand-new documentary made especially for this edition, even a creepy commercial for the Monroeville Mall.
The real treasure trove here is the ability to watch all three versions of the movie: the original US theatrical cut (the best, in terms of pacing and atmosphere), the Extended version (featuring a tense and effective stand-off at the Phillie docks), and the shorter European version. It's intriguing to compare how editing and music can radically alter a film: in the Euro version, we have much more of Goblin's soundtrack---but everything feels off, not nearly packing as much punch.
Rule #6:DON'T GET TRAPPED IN THE BASEMENT. Time has been kind to "Dawn of the Dead" and George Romero; justly so. "Dawn" is a deliciously wicked little jewel of a movie, one I can watch over and over again. The consumerist angle, done to death my movie critics, is a little much: Romero filmed the flick in the Monroeville Mall because it was cheap, not because he was making a scathing commentary about American consumerism.
Then again, maybe it is a movie about the extremes of Consumerism: the Zombies have risen again as the ultimate consumers, after all.
They now consume our Flesh.
As good as it gets.
M. Maloney | Savannah, GA United States | 08/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Its about time. What more can we say? Anchor Bay has decided to release its ultimate DVD edition of George A. Romero's epic Zombie film, Dawn of the Dead. Here are the specs.
DISC 1: The origian unrated director's cut. NOT THE EXTENDED EDITION, which is not truly Romero's director's cut. This disc includes commentary with George Romero, Tom Savini, and Chris Romero along with Theatrical trailers and radio spots.
DISC 2: The extended edition, often mistaken for a 'director's cut.' This disc includes an additional 12 minutes of glorious footage. Also includes commentary by producer Richard Rubinstein, who also helmed the recent Dawn of the Dead remake. The disc has a commercial for the Monroville Mall and a memorabilia gallery.
DISC 3: The Dario Argento cut. This version of the film has less humor and more drama, released in Europe with additional music from Goblin. This version includes commentary by all four stars of the film.
DISC 4: This disc contains several documentaries including the all new THE DEAD WALK (75 min) and the classic DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD; a feature-length documentary shot during the making of Dawn of the Dead. This disc also includes home movies from the set and a tour of the Monroeville Mall with actor Ken Foree.
Buy this DVD set, you won't be sorry. Even if you haven't seen the film, for any zombie fan, this is a must own.
Dawn of the dead fan? This is what you have been waiting for
A. Nowak | Fort Collins, CO United States | 06/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hey all, Dawn of the dead is coming out in a 4 disc special edition. Before I tell you the features i'm going to tell you what I though about the movie. It's a classic. The movie had good special effects and a great story line. This movie and the other Night and Day will remain classics throughout history. Overall i give this movie 5/5. The story is a group of swat officers take refuge in a shopping mall during a zombie epidemic. The differnece is in this one from the new one is they could leave at will. They had a helicopter and everything! I'd be in paradise if i was them. I won't ruin the rest but it was a good movie, now here are the special features.
Disc One: Theatrical Cut with an anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.85:1), DD5.1 and 2.0, DTS 5.1 Surround, audio commentary (George A. Romero, Tom Savini and Chris Romero, moderated by Perry Martin), George A. Romero biography, poster & advertising gallery, comic book preview, trailers, TV and radio spots.
Disc Two: Extended Cut with an anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.85:1), DD Mono, audio commentary (Richard P. Rubinstein with Perry Martin), Monroeville Mall commercial, memorabilia gallery and production stills galleries.
Disc Three: European "Zombie" Cut with an anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.85:1), DD5.1 and 2.0, audio commentary (David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger and Gaylen Ross), Dario Argento biography, international lobby card gallery, international poster & advertising gallery, international pressbook gallery, home video & soundtrack artwork gallery, international trailers and UK TV spots.
Disc Four: "The Dead Will Walk" all-new 75-minute documentary (featuring interviews with Claudio and Dario Argento, Pat and Tony Buba, Zilla Clinton, David Crawford, David Early, David Emge, Ken Foree, Michael Gornick, John Harrison, Clayton Hill, Sharon Ceccatti-Hill, Jim Krut, Leonard Lies, Scott H. Reiniger, George and Chris Romero, Gaylen Ross, Tom Savini and Claudio Simonetti), "Document of the Dead" documentary by Roy Frumkes, On-set home movie footage (with audio commentary by zombie extra Robert Langer) and a Monroeville Mall tour with George A. Romero.
Great special features HUH? :) i hope you buy this dvd and add to your collection. I also hope they do this with night and day also."
J. Inman | Lodi, California United States | 09/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was fortunate to stumble across the "Ultimate Edition" today at a local retailer, 2 days ahead of scheduled release! You have all seen it so I don't need to go into detail. The first disc is the exact same as the Divimax edition, same special features and everything. Disc 2 is the "Extended Version" which is basically the same thing but with an additional 12 minutes of footage integrated into the film. The new scenes don't add anything but it is always nice to see new footage. Disc 3 is the "European Version" which runs at about 117 minutes. Some scenes are shortened and some are lengthened and it features some different musical cues by Goblin. There is also a nice commentary track featuring all four major cast members. Disc four is a treat! I features a new 75 minute documentary with interviews featuring cast and crew. There is also a 90 minute original documentary filmed during the production of the film. Also included is a short "home movie" shot by a zombie extra during filming. The icing on the cake is a recently recorded tour of the mall, with tour guide Ken Foree! He takes a large group of fans through the mall and tells them what happened where. David Emge and other cast and crew join Ken on the tour.
By the way, the "alternate ending" was never filmed so, no, you will not find it here...or anywhere else."