HMM Day 15 – Dawn of The Dead

Are you a prepper? Do you even know what a prepper is? Let me go ahead and tell you. A prepper is a person that prepares for the end of the world. Well, more or less. While people like us are “busy” watching horror movies and delighting in the carnage. While we purchase new trinkets for our homes or shop toys for our kids on Christmas. These prepper people are getting ready. “Getting ready for what?” you ask. That my friend is where the mystery of the prepper remains.

A prepper is a person that prepares for cataclysmic events either by environmental disaster or civil and social unrest. So think of every crazy end of the world scenario. Floods, earthquakes, nuclear war, anarchy and the Amish uprising. Robots taking over like the Terminator. Alien invasion like in Independence Day or global warming turning everything into one scorched planet. Sea levels will rise, crops will burn and most people will kill each other in the pandemonium. Real wrath of God kind of stuff like Ray said in Ghostbusters.

These people spend a good chunk of their time and money in purchasing items like food, weapons and various provisions so that when all the shit goes down; they will have things to survive on. So while you and I are eating our babies, these people are living high on the hog on pinto beans. Survivalism became a trend in the 60’s when nuclear war was scaring the hell out of people. So people bought fall out shelters and dug bunkers in their backyards. But the trend continued far up into the 80’s when the threat of nuclear war was growing more and more intense.

I remember this one time, me and my girlfriend. Well we were playing a few computer games. One of them being just your run of the mill game called Global Thermal Nuclear War. What we ended up doing is we actually hacked into the NORAD mainframe. Man, it was tough. We had to go to this mountain named after a native tribe… Chay-something. Chay… Chor-something… Chanay… Chanaynay Mountain! That’s right it was named after Martin Lawrences cross dressing character. So we went to Chanaynay Mountain and had to meet with US Generals, loads of FBI people and even President Ronald Reagan was there on the phone! The computer almost caused a nuclear war between the big USA and the Soviets! Man was I embarrassed because everyone was pissed at me. That’s red on a record know one wants to have. Imagine trying to interview for a job and the ass hole manager looks at your resume. “Well son, everything looks good except… hmmm you almost caused an atomic war about five years ago.” The guy just looks at you like you had a dick for a nose.

But survival is important and preppers do what they do because… they believe its better to be ready than not. It’s actually a noble idea. They aren’t hurting anyone and as far as I’m concerned are smarter than most of us. People keep saying the world is ending in twelve years any ways so I guess the crazy dude in the wife beater collecting the worlds largest supply of cream corn isn’t so crazy after all.

But when it comes to survival, how would you survive a zombie apocalypse? I’m sure preppers take zombies into consideration. I mean, if you watch 28 Days Later, then that scenario sounds pretty possible doesn’t it? So yea, when it comes to zombies… there is some glimmer of possibility in it. But still when it comes to the zombies, when it finally all does happen. FINGERS CROSSED! Where is the first place that you would go? Do you think you would even go anywhere? These are important questions and one I think is best illustrated in Dawn of The Dead!

Dawn of The Dead is a 1978 zombie horror film directed by legend George A. Romero. It stars Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, David Emge and Tom Savini. The movie is a direct sequel to 1968’s Night of The Living Dead and it was proceeded by 1985’s Day of The Dead. One day George Romero was visiting the Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, PA. About twenty minutes east of Pittsburgh. While trying out various foreign beard creams, he thought “Wow, a mall sucks! Let’s have zombies infest it.” So he teamed up with a new guy you may have heard of named Tom Savini and the rest was cinematic flesh eating history. Although Romero would go on and direct three more films that were in the “dead” series, these first three are wildly accepted as one trilogy. The movie received positive reviews from critiques and became the seminal movie for most future zombie films.

The Story

The zombie infestation has started! All society is collapsing and government is strictly enforcing authoritarian control over few groups of people still harboring the living dead. As a sweep of an apartment complex goes bad, two National Guardsmen named Peter and Roger meet up with Stephen and his pregnant girlfriend name Francine in an abandoned mall. With the survivors living within the shopping fortress, the zombies are slim pickings. But there are worser things than zombies.

The Usual Gist

So here is the scene. You’re talking with your coworkers. Most of them are a bunch of AMC’ers. Which means these are simple people that only know the horror movies that are played one hundred times a day during the month of October. Their idea of horror is limited. The topic of zombie movies comes up and you ask “Have you guys ever seen Dawn of The Dead?” A couple of them shake their heads no, but one guy, his name is Doug.

He gets all excited and says “HELL YEA! I’ve seen that movie! It’s awesome how those people are held up in the mall.” You get all excited cause finally someone you can relate to. So you say “Cool, what was your favorite part?”

The guy replies back “Why the part when the zombie baby is born! And that Steve guy is hilarious!”

You look at Doug and wonder how this dude keeps a job. No wonder his wife left him. “No no no, that was the remake. What about the original film! You know, the real Dawn of The Dead?” you say.

Doug just looks at you with a stupid face. “Wait, there’s a remake of Dawn of the Dead? Did it come out last year? Oh boy, did Zack Snyder do that? I love him!” he says.

“No no no you Philistine! Dawn of the Dead, you know the one with zombie baby and fast running zombies, boom boom and with an ocean in the middle of Wisconsin where there is a tropical island? That is the remake from 2004. The original is from 1978!” you preach to Doug like he needed Jesus or something.

“Ohhhh, no. I didn’t see that. But I did like Army of The Dead! Is that a sequel to the 2004 movie?” Doug says. Later that night you bury various pieces of Dougs corpse in your backyard.

A Little Confusing

That scene above is probably pretty accurate for most hard core horror fans. Especially the part about burying a corpse in your backyard. People do get the original film mixed up with the 2004 remake. But I get it and see why people love the remake. It is on a higher and more expensive budget while the original is definitely cheaper and less styled. Still, the original film accomplished things that the remake fails to do. This is because Zack Snyder is a shitty director.

With that said, it is understandable people don’t know much about it. Dawn of the Dead is one of those films you can’t find on any streaming service. At least any that I know of. Fortunately some awesome angel has put it up on youtube in a low resolution video! But the to find the DVD is gonna cost you. I saw one DVD that was around seventy five bucks! So instead watch it for free. Zombie Geogre Romero won’t mind.

A Different Time

I think Dawn of The Dead and the remake are important examples of how making movies has changed. The original film represents a time when a movie was in control of a creator and weren’t subjugated to corporate control or… social justice market research. Romero wanted to make the movie he wanted and did it without trying to appeal to a special crowd or some CEO. For this reason Romero set out and created the template of all zombie films.

Now, Night of the Living Dead may be the movie that casted the mold for your modern zombie and also the theme that humans are the real problem. But Dawn of the Dead set the stage for zombie films to take place in strange and new locations. Also, they aren’t isolated incidents. The zombie infestation has gone more global and the movie shows how it effects society.

Crumbling Society

We see the very beginning of this film open up in pure chaos at a news network. Everyone is arguing about what to do with zombies and talking about abandoning their posts as the media. Then we get a scene where the National Guard is going into mostly impoverished neighborhoods and exterminating the dead. They’re even killing living people as well. Society is in utter chaos and even the military has absolutely no order.

I love this because it’s not a simple “society is gone” kind of delivery. The zombie stuff is a slow and steady issue that proposes definite problematic situations for us all. It’s way more realistic. We see the survivors in the mall watching a news broadcast where two people are arguing about what to do with the zombies. Everyone is just super pissed off with this guy that is demanding answers to the zombie infestation. This is one of the coolest scenes because as they’re discussing this the guy is saying how we must remain rationalized and repeats over and over again how we got to “remain logical.” All this is happening while Peter is seeing his friend Roger re-animate into a flesh eater. He looks strained in having to shoot zombie Roger as he is hearing this guy talk on the tv about being logical. It shows that things aren’t that simple and that irrational heads won’t prevail. But then the biker gang shows up and terrorizes our group and there we have our irrational society on full display!

The bikers come in to get all the good stuff from the mall and Stephen gets super pissed that they’re taking everything, especially the money. So a shoot out begins and thus comes the downfall of the malls security. In this we get a clearer understanding of the films view on consumerism. Even in the midst of a dystopian society with very little survivors, people cling to the material possessions. The mere fact that the group initially goes to the mall is an indicator to consumerism. If you were going to seek refuge against the zombie horde, you would go to a pharmacy or a weapons depot. Even a grocery store would be better. But a mall? What the actual fuck is in a mall that would help you last against zombie hordes?

Even when the survivors seem like the mall is a good place with everything they could want, the mood is only temporary. Soon they start feeling isolated and obvious tension arises between them all. The glory of living with all the material possession you could ask for is not enough to make anyone happy. The video games will lose their entertaining value and there’s only so much clothing that you can wear. The best shot of this depressive isolation is displayed when Stephen is shown sleeping in bed with a mannequin. At least I think it’s a mannequin. It doesn’t look like his actual girlfriend Fran.

He’s so bored with his new existence that he can’t enjoy the touch of the woman he claims to love. But then later we see Fran putting on a shit load of make up that would make Buffalo Bill blush. She stares longingly into the mirror and flashes a gun next to face. Implying her thoughts of suicide. The entire themes of consumerism and isolation gives us reason to like the zombies more than the humans.

You see I’ve always seen the zombies in these movies as a cleansing of humanity. We kill over stupid causes. We’re selfish and materialistic like this movie suggests. The only reason the zombies come in and eat people is due to our own selfish desire for stuff. The zombies are just the cure folks!

Head Shots

While the gore in this movie is Tom Savini’s most rookie style, it is still a great stuff. Sure the zombies look kind of green or blue but there are loads of head shots along with some great flesh eating scenes. For the most part everything is mildly tame until the last part of the film. People are popping zombie heads left and right and the effects are well done for such a low blood budget shot. It’s near the end when the inevitable zombie horde rushes in, does the gore go full throttle. No wonder this movie would propel Savini into higher level of status.

Everything about this movie makes it feel more genuine and fun. You can tell they shot this and enjoyed every minute of it. You have to love the bike gang lead by Savini himself. He’s a crazy guy that kills zombies with unrelenting fervor. Who wouldn’t love cutting zombie flesh eaters while riding on a motorcycles sidecar? And those are the things that make this movie great. Absurd things happen and it makes you chuckle!

Favorite Scene

If you were to ask me what is the best thing about Dawn of The Dead. The very one thing that makes it such an awesome movie then it would be this! When the bikers enter the mall and shit is going bad for them. One guy decides this would be an ideal time to get his blood pressure checked. Of course he’s wearing a mariachi hat and doesn’t care that the zombies are surrounding him. He must be the special guy in the bike gang. But he dies and it rules!

Man I love this movie. It’s so simple and low budget but offers more insight than the majority of zombie films today. The scenes of isolation are conveyed so strong that you see the mall as more a prison. The zombies are there as a vehicle. Just coming along as an unstoppable wave to be a cleanser to our terrible ways. Maybe as a lesson, the zombies are meant to remind us what is to come if we continue on destructive paths. While Night of The Living Dead illustrates this through the themes of race and getting along. Dawn of the Dead does so through the means of materialism.

Romero uses the zombies in just the right amount to give us enough horror to coincide with the commentary. The gore, the action and the atmosphere while the marching dead music plays on is brilliant and impressing. It’s why I love this movie and consider it one of the best zombie films ever made. I’d like to think that to this day the Monroeville mall is still home to a zombie horde. That is why I have chosen 1978’s Dawn of The Dead for day fifteen of my Horror Movie Marathon.

Hey! Thanks for reading my posts! How is your horror season going? If you’ve been following along for my marathon then that is great. Now, maybe you would like to add some more horror movies to your day. Well guess the fuck what! I have other other posts readily available for you to check out from other day fifteen marathons! Go ahead and check them out below.

Or maybe you’re a new follower and would like to get quick access to the other posts we’ve covered thus far for this marathon. Well here is an easy way to catch up. Give these links a check and have a happy horror season!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Probably my favourite zombie movie of all time. Great blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nscovell says:

      Thanks! It’s amazing how romero could make a way more compelling zombie film film on such little budget. Very little camera or color styles. He just has a camera and relied on the natural mall lighting.

      Liked by 1 person

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