Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Directed by George A. Romero
Written by George A. Romero and Dario Argento

Seeing the 2004 remake prompted me to revisit the original Dawn of the Dead, which is a good deal savvier and more enjoyable on pretty much every level. Though the new one has some great gore and some real scares (mainly because its zombies are fuckin' fast), the original simply means more, and doesn't slouch on thrills, neither.

It's mostly a satire on consumerist society—mindless zombies descending on a mall, held at bay by the privileged few—and so the zombies here present no real threat to the anti-heroic lead characters, save that of infecting them. The survivors are able to easily run past and/or knock down the zombies here, so their power only becomes threatened once they start succumbing to greed.

Though its reputation is one of being a scary blood-feast, I think that image of it is perpetuated by folks who haven't seen it … the overriding tone is more akin to Network or even Mars Attacks!. Pure black comedy, with the additional benefit of having cool-ass zombies.

The entirely unlikeable team of survivors here are a TV anchorwoman (Gayleen Ross), her arrogant pilot boyfriend (David Emge) and two SWAT policemen (Scott Reinger and Ken Foree). Unilke the new one, which offers some reasons to actually care about the survivors, DOTD '78 makes no bones about who you're supposed to root for. Of course, I always root for zombies no matter what … I probably would even if the world did become infected with rampant zombification and the zombies were after me. For there is no greater blaze of glory with which to go out than being torn apart by brain-thirsty zombies.

The cinematography is sharp and compelling, the color schemes sarcastic yet appealing, the jokes are funny, and the performances are camp-free. The score (by Goblin) is outstanding, one of the few soundtracks that would actually be worthwhile to listen to independent of the film. A little slow-moving in parts, but so are zombies. Well, 70s zombies, anyway.

Review by La Fée