Movie Review: Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
Dawn of the dead is a classic horror movie that proudly resembles the idea of how reality can be ignored for a short period of time before it all comes crashing down out of nowhere. I respect this movie for this message and that alone. I will openly criticize this movie because I found myself disappointed by its horrid special effects which can somewhat be excused by the small budget it had, but it does not excuse the terrible acting where the main actors openly don’t try when fighting off the zombies and defending themselves during the first half of the movie
So I started the movie with faint curiosity of whether or not it would live up to the hype surrounding it, or the faint nostalgia in my mind from when I watched the movie a few years back. But before I actually watched this movie I figured that I should quickly check why it was so loved by the public and that’s when I got the idea. It’s excused for it’s shitty acting and laughable special effects because of its story and the message within that.
The four main actors consists of: Two newly acquainted police officers, Peter and Roger, and two News channel staff members, Stephen and Francine, who are in a romantic relationship. The officers meet up with Stephen and Francine because apparently Roger is acquainted with the Stephen and they are actually friends yet the only sign of said friendship is at the beginning where Roger asks Stephen if he is okay after almost being robbed and maybe even killed. So that’s a great friendship right there.
The main characters have great development and I applaud the director & writer George Romero who I can proudly say did a great job in writing the screenplay, but did a horrible job when it came to motivating the actors into trying a bit more during the actual scenes.
So you may be wondering what I mean by them not trying. The actors do great at dialogue and creating a bond/romance between each other throughout the movie, their relationship feels completely natural and so are conversations shared between them. The issue comes down to the action scenes where the characters for a good first half of the movie aren’t using their guns while fighting off zombies, the problem with this is that they don’t during the actual fighting scenes. The main male actors, Peter, Roger and Stephen, are the only ones who actually deal with zombies during the movie unless you want to count Francine’s hilarious zombie fighting scene where she makes scared facial expressions as she dangles from the ladder leading to the roof. So during the actual fighting scenes the male actors would only go halfway with their punches before stopping so that and the extra (Zombie) can throw himself backwards in a terrible falling motion that couldn’t be any faker even if they tried. There are cases where they would actually pull a punch and you can see it swing and miss the extra by around ten centimeters so the fact that it’s fake is embarrassingly obvious. The only thing that I can honestly say about this though is that if George was trying to suck his viewers into the movie and entice them with the acting then he failed with blatant displays of it being fake. Other horror movies that I can actually deem to be better, they successfully entice the viewers and suck them into the movie, to the point of the viewer actually feeling horror and shock for the characters loses. But in Dawn Of The Dead all I felt was a shrug or me muttering to myself “That made no sense…”
In regards to the what I meant by the “That made no sense” comment. I’m referencing the idiot biker who tries to get his blood pressure tested while his friends are being shot at and then mauled by zombie, and at the same time a large crowd of zombies are surrounding him. Or Stephen not shooting himself after he got bit and instead just sitting there while he slowly dies like an idiot.
Regarding Stephen death, it made no sense. He was bit because the zombies were able to open the elevator doors using their temporary genius intelligence. This could've easily have been avoided by him locking the elevator with his keys or pressing the down/up button and going to another floor but apparently Stephen was too concerned with his one armed pull ups.
(A personal message to my man, Stephen fucking Andrews.)
Stephen, you’re the fucking man! I’d let those muscly arms grope me any day!
PS. I don’t mind that you run like a retarded chimp.
End Of Spoilers!
This movie has more than a few faults in it, especially for a classic. The movies is filled with idiotic action scenes where according to Dawn of the Dead physics, a sledgehammer is capable of downing a zombie for 7 seconds while only having to use the speed and strength of a ten year old. So any ten year old’s out there, you are A-OK in the Dawn of the Dead franchise. While we’re addressing the zombie shit show let's discuss the faltering muscle movements of the zombies and on-and-off again intelligence that only occurs whenever it’s convenient to the plot.
So in Dawn of the Dead, the zombies are incapable of lifting their hands or using any physical strength. They’re like relatives whenever they go in for the hug “Should I hug him or should I just stop before I’m in too deep …Oh shit he didn’t like it!!! ABORT! ABORT! CODE RED, GUYS!!” This movie just made me face-palm with its zombies because they cannot move during one scene but in others they regain all their energy and turn into Bruce Lee with their astonishing speed that makes you think “Congratulations Zombies! Did you take Cocaine or Meth before this scene because you seem to be wearing white face and suddenly have the energy of a panther?!” There are constant scenes like these where for example: The zombies gain the ability to open elevators, one zombie gains super strength, and another hides and waits for the main character. But when it’s actually unimportant for the story the zombies can’t even move their own head or hold the guy still without being literally shrugged off like a child.
Are these zombies or children?! Wait! Maybe there’s a secret message here…Maybe, this movie is a metaphor for how kids are energetic for like 5 seconds until they don’t want to be so then they are lazy…So….We should kill them!!! I’m kidding, by the way. So any officers in the area don’t arrest me for making a fucking joke, please.
By the way, the 1st and 3rd joke are pretty god-damn funny.
The first half of this movie overall though was pretty poor, and I felt it added to a list of faults that could of have been fixed or avoided altogether if George Romero simply wrote it better or directed the scene differently.
The zombies were incapable of moving at a logical speed and their bodies magically gained speed or their hands suddenly got strong enough to break skin whenever that was necessary for the scene at hand, but from what I’ve seen the characters could have a five course meal in the middle of a crowd of zombies and then follow it up with a forty minutes of rough sex on top of the dinner table before eventually having to matrix punch the zombie from half a meter away before continuing said sex scene for another hour or two.
The movie doesn’t rely on good writing or a realistic standard, it requires the ‘It’s a movie!’ excuse followed by a bad script in certain scenes. It’s petty of George Romero and from what I can tell his filmography shows that he is capable of so much more yet he restricted his directing in this movie with cop-outs and lack of work in certain scenes like zombies becoming intelligent or strong out of nowhere.
The second half of the movie captured my attention though because it actually started showing an emotional aspect and used the emotional connections built through-out the first half of the movie to establish a sense of dread and sadness with the deaths of their loved ones and the sudden loss of something that they had working so hard to build and secure. It showed the characters reluctance at giving up what they loved, and sadly this lead to their spiraling demise. I can applaud the movie for this and it definitely earned my respect for that along with an actual clap from me… clap clap… Now let’s hesitantly shit on this movie even more.
The main actors did a great job at portraying emotion in their required scenes, which is something that most actors cannot do. I’m looking at you Mary! Why didn’t you go with him?! You emotionless pain in the ass!
I applaud these actors for that, because later on Bikers come into the mix and these bikers deserve a fucking award for being incapable of acting! So according to the writing of this following scene, the Bikers can resist the damage of bullets, but they still bleed because…movie. They can get shot yet not die or retain any damage, but if them getting shot was for “Fuck yeah! Die Bikers!!” reasoning then they’ll brush off bullets but instead get brutally eaten by Zombies.
The special effects are something that I almost forgot to mention, but now that I think about it, it needs a paragraph because holy shit were they bad. So every fan of this movie will say “It’s old!” or “Look at the small budget!” but that is no excuse for the fucking complexion of these zombies, it was so bad that it was actually hilarious. The white and black zombies look like they’re all fake albinos that were on their way to the latest Albino Convention but sadly they got killed and now they all look like idiots doing White Face, the very opposite of Black Face.
Sadly though this White face was done horribly. Their attempt at making the zombies look like they were dead people was in reality people having simply rubbed white cream or some white makeup on the person’s face. What the fuck special effects guy! I’m feeling triggered and teary eyed here for that because my white brethren should be represented with the highest grade of White face, or Albino face as I like to call it. Out of outrage for this clear insult to us, superior white men (Joke), I’ll ignore the red paint being used as a hilarious, cringe worthy substitute for blood.
Overall this movie was a fun watch because it pulls at the heartstrings while making you laugh with its over the top head explosions, Albino face zombies who got lost on their way to the local Albino convention, and the half-assed swing-and-miss punches that cause hilarious reactions that almost made me cry in laughter as the extras just spread out their arms and jumped back like idiots on a crucifix. I would definitely recommend this movie as a comedy and a good psychological movie. But don’t get your hopes up.
- Video: 6/10
- Audio: 6/10
- Acting: 5/10
- Story: 8/10
- Writing: 5/10
- Overall Score: 6/10