on August 1, 2008
Imagine. A clam peaceful morning. A promise of a new day. A promise of love, of hope, of joy and prosperity. A promise shattered. A new dream takes over . . .
Welcome to this brave new world, teaming with the hungering legions of the damned and demented. An inexplicable virus has taken over the barren husks of those who have died and has risen them as new beings - - - beings who must sate themselves on the gory, writhing remains of the living. And, in the soulless eyes of these macabre creatures, a new world takes form - - - a world filled with the wails of the tormented dying, a world drenched in the blood of innocents, a world where corruption and decay rule all, a world where hope has died and been buried. In this Stygian realm, the few survivors must make a new way of life, must lock themselves in a fortress of solitude for their physical safety. They must, regardless of the consequences, band together against the gruesome hordes that await their warm flesh. However, will the slow onset of mental imbalances, unrequited loneliness, and barren heartedness eat them alive before their loved ones do? Only time will tell. The clock is ticking. The dead are waiting. Step up to the gallows. . .
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A Film to Die for:
While the horror genre has long been home to the musings of the demented, Dawn of the Dead takes depression and loneliness to a whole new level creating a film that, simply put, is to die for. The aura is suitably, almost entrancingly, morbid as the film delves into not only the gory rampages of the newly turned, but on the all too real emotions experienced by the few survivors as they struggle to remain alive and, even harder, sane. While Dawn of the Dead is by no means a deep film, it does have that certain something, that inexplicable magic, that makes the viewer care. Yes, indeed, this is one those films that you will spend yelling at the screen, warning the unwitting characters to turn around, or not go down that creepy corridor, or even better, not to hover near those that have just died, indulging in long moments of anguish without remembering just what happens to the corpses of the infected victims. Yes, the characters lack that certain brain power, but, unlike most zombie flicks, it's believable. They reside in a world that rotates around death, not life. A world that overnight turned into a carnal house stacked with the bodies of those they once loved so it is acceptable, even believable, that the characters would have trouble grasping the ramifications of some of their actions, including their "daring" plan in the conclusion.
Of course, the best story in the world is only as good as its telling. How many times have we, the exalted viewers of America, been presented with an interesting movie concept that despite the ingenuity has failed on every level (Aeon Flux comes to mind). And, conversely, how many times have we been presented with a simple, unadorned story that for some reason spellbinds the entire audience (think of Paper Moon.) Dawn of the Dead most certainly falls into the later category. Like most George Romero films (with the exception of that travesty Land of the Dead) the acting is brilliant and emotional, the special effects are surprisingly (and sometimes upsettingly) realistic, and the entire aura of the movie from beginning to end is dismal yet somehow, strangely appealing. Dawn of the Dead creates a horrible world, yet the viewer will want to visit it again and again.
As the movie gains force, the conclusion rushes forward and although, as briefly mentioned above, the characters' daring scheme does present the viewer with major qualms, it is believable and even suitable. Unlike those "cliff hanger" movies that misconstrue intrigue with irritation and decide to end with no revelation or meaning Dawn of the Dead ends dramatically, poignantly, and memorably satisfying the viewer and rounding out the entire movie nicely, leaving no room for complaints or questions. Also, one word of advice, be sure and watch the ending credits because an important event is actually portrayed as the credits role. This is part of the conclusion and is highly important.
Extra Information and a Note to Potential Viewers:
The version of Dawn of the Dead that I viewed was the unrated director's cut (which I highly recommend). The film was originally rated R in theaters. Since this movie contains extreme gore, violence, bad language, and brief scenes of nudity, viewer discretion is advised (and yes, I got that from TV). For those who are interested in the actors/actresses these are some of the names of the outstanding cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, and Mekhi Phifer. Also, Dawn of the Dead boasts an excellent soundtrack especially the concluding song, so don't miss it!