Dawn of the Dead

Dawn Of The Dead-directors cut, special collectors edition, LBX and digitally remastered. 2+ tapes 
AKA Zombie: Dawn Of The Dead 
USA, 1978 
Directed by George A Romero 

 Probably the best zombie film in history. What else could add even more to an already classic film? Unseen footage, LBX and the digitally remastering which allows you to enjoy the film even more. There is also a 2nd tape included, which has some previews including foreign ones of the film in its initial release (nothing special). NOTLD was a ground breaking horror film but this one really made sure that the message, gore and comedic qualities were kept intact.

 The story begins in a television studio where two men are discussing the zombie situation on live television. A young news lady (Gaylen Ross) is amid the chaos going on in the studio when her boyfriend, the weatherman (David Emge) arrives and tells her to be at a landing pad by a certain time to get picked up by a news helicopter he has stolen.

 After this we see a swat team engaged in a hostage situation in an apartment building. Lots of people and zombies are killed in this sequence and utter madness ensues causing a cop to go crazy and be shot by a fellow officer and another one to shoot himself in the head. Even before all this happens we see a veteran swat member (Scott Reiniger) who talks to a rookie and tells him to stay close, but the new cop is shot between the eyes before he can move.

 Lots of headshots (I mean lots) and flesh munching along with Savini's exploding head effects which he has used in The Prowler and Maniac as well (nothing can beat the exploding head in Scanners baby, nothing!). A couple of swat team members (Reiniger and Ken Foree) meet in the basement, Foree being the one who killed the crazy cop on a rampage upstairs. Reiniger mentions that a friend (Emge) has a helicopter and asks Foree if he wants to go. He accepts. After a brief encounter with a one-legged black priest and the killing of many zombies in the basement they both go AWOL.

 They all meet at the landing pad where a cut-out scene in the original involving some bandit cops (one who appears in Day Of The Dead, Joseph Pilato) who are also on the run, they wish each other luck. One of the cross-eyed cops asks the four if they have any cigarettes and they all reply no. When they get in the air they all take out smokes and indulge themselves, ha!

 The four (Emge, Foree, Ross and Reiniger) take-off and, from the air, they witness some unspeakable acts on the ground showing humans behaving just as bad or worse than the zombies. Rednecks and military treat the whole situation like a joke as they slaughter the walking corpses, treating it like a fun game. The four in the helicopter have to stop for a fuel up when they land in an abandoned air station strip where corpses attack them once again. One zombie has the top part of his head lopped off by the helicopter propeller (nice bit of FX there) and numerous zombies are shot, including some kid zombies. Another zombie is bashed with a hammer etc,.

 Foree and Emge clash over Emge's shitty shooting ability. They all take off again and spot a shopping mall, eventually making a decision to set down. Foree and Reiniger go in through a roof opening in the place (by bashing it in) and go on a little trip to scout out the place and to get some things from a couple of shops where they pick up things they need and/or want. For the next half an hour the folks secure the building and go on a number of shopping sprees to establish a place to live within the shopping complex.

 There are many zombies to be shot in the skull and Romero's depiction of this would make other zombie filmmakers bow their heads in shame. Reiniger and Foree block off all of the entrances to the shopping complex with big semi-trucks. They run over a couple of zombies (Reiniger hits one, splattering blood on his windshield, he then turns on the wipers and laughs) and shoot lots more. Reiniger starts to lose his marbles as Foree shoots a zombie about to get Reiniger and blood splatters all over Reiniger's face. Ross picks off a couple of the corpses but they eventually take a chunk out of Reiniger's leg. The only part I found stupid during this sequence was the fact that Emge has the helicopter hovering above all of the action, what's the point? He can't do anything to help and he's wasting valuable fuel.

 Once inside the crew starts to secure everything and get rid of the crowds of zombies, which they kill and put in a giant cooler (not shown in the original version). Once everything has been done, Reiniger turns into a zombie, the result of the bite he received and is dealt with by Foree and buried. Everything ends off with a gang of bikers (including Tom Savini) who lay siege to the shopping center and pummel a lot of zombies. Sledgehammerings, shootings, a well-placed knife in the throat and the classic machete-in-the-head gore bit which will ever-so-ever go down in horror film history.

 Emge, shot in the arm by the bikers, gets rushed in an elevator by zombies and is bitten all over, including his shoulder, neck and torso. Emge turns into a zombie while the bikers start to get overtaken by the zombies with help from Foree who wounds a couple of bikers. The zombies dine on the bikers, gut munching, stomach-ripping, and limb-dining, along with eviscerations etc,. Foree also kills Savini with a rifle. While the bikers are goners the zombies close in on Foree and Ross. Ross goes out to the helicopter to escape (Emge taught her how to fly the thing) while Foree stays behind to die. He quickly changes his mind and the two go off into the sunset with not much fuel left in the helicopter (thanks to Emge).

 The zombies in the mall are funny, they walk down escalators, get change out of the water fountain and just act zany. Who can forget the line "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth". The director's cut is a bonus, but there are no extra gore scenes just extra footage. Digitally remastering makes everything show up nice and clear to see and LBX allows you to see more of the film. A must-see horror classic. We now know where Rodriguez got the format titles for From Dusk Till Dawn. Lucio Fulci's Zombie 2AKAZombie followed and is also an excellent gore film even though unauthorized. Day Of The Dead was the real third installment and is also an excellent gore film. Savini's effects in this one are outstanding. The collector's edition is worth owning for sure.

 Rating: Five Skulls 
Richard J.Taylor

 

 

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