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DAWN OF THE DEAD (1979)
By Steve Biodrowski (unless otherwise noted)
February 26, 2000
Once the property of low-budget voodoo pictures, the zombie film was reinvented by George Romero with his 1968 B&W classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (#17 on the Top 100 list). Drawing on several sources, most notably Richard Matheson's novel I AM LEGEND, Romero blended Matheson's vampires with the hypnotized Caribbean islander genre and gave us reanimated, flesh-eating monsters, composed of neighbors, friends and family. For its sequel, DAWN OF THE DEAD, Romero furthered his concept of the zombies as a replacement society by dropping them into the cathedral of American consumerism: the local shopping mall. Successfully intertwining horror and social commentary, DOTD follows four disparate characters as they traverse the Pennsylvania countryside in search of a safe, zombie-free haven. Through their plight we learn that even in the face of such overwhelming terror, old shopping habits die hard. Managing to scare, shock, stun, and amuse its audience with the absurdities of our world as it comes to a whimpering end, DOTD masterfully employs a documentary style coupled with gruesome, over-the-top effects, which demonstrate that horror, with a little bit of thought and imagination, can be more than just cheap scares and thrills.