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Dawn of the Dead Reviews

One of the key horror films of the 1970s (a particularly fecund period for the genre), George Romero's apocalyptic followup to his classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) abandons easy scare tactics in favor of a darkly satirical assault on bourgeois culture, traditional notions of masculinity, and rampant consumerism. Zesty contributions from cinematographer Michael Gornick and special makeup effects mastermind Tom Savini help make this feel like a brightly colored action comic book peppered with gruesome (but not gratuitous) violence. Celebrated Italian horror maestro Dario Argento (SUSPIRIA, DEEP RED) co-produced and provided the lively rock score with his band, Goblin. Though all of the performances are at least adequate, this is not an actor's movie. Believe it or not, this is a film about ideas as well as gore. Nonetheless, this is strong medicine and not for all tastes In DAWN the recently dead are still returning to life and eating the flesh of the living but the phenomena has spread to nationwide if not worldwide proportions. A brutal police assault on a minority housing project that occurs early in the film expands upon the conclusion of NIGHT. We see that in the eyes of the law, there is little difference between political radicals, innocent bystanders of color, and carnivorous zombies. Ross, an employee of a local television station, and her boyfriend Emge, a traffic helicopter pilot, decide to try to escape the madness in a helicopter accompanied by two SWAT team cops, Reiniger and Foree. They eventually land atop a shopping mall. Once they clear out the zombies, the four decide to remain in this shoppers' paradise where they get to live out their wildest consumer fantasies until they are forced to defend themselves from marauding bikers who want to crash their party. Romero's films tend to be left of center in outlook: ethnically and sexually integrated, pro-feminist, gay-friendly, anti-macho, and skeptical about capitalism, they represent a progressive aspect of the genre. His "living dead" movies are among the Pittsburgh-based auteur's most personal efforts. So terrifying in their initial incarnation, the zombies in DAWN have become rather pathetic (though still very dangerous) eating machines. Nuns, clowns, and Hare Krishnas number among their ranks as they return to the mall they loved in life. "They are us," one of the characters wryly observes. This independently produced low budget film ($1.5 million) went on to become one of the most profitable "indies" in film history. DAY OF THE DEAD, ostensibly the conclusion of the DEAD series, followed in 1985.