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Dawn of the Dead

Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Ken Foree, Gaylen Ross, David Emge
Running time: 125 minutes
Rating: Un-rated

Story: The zombie epidemic is still growing and the living are feeling helpless. A small group of survivors take refuge in a mall, hoping to keep the dead at bay. They'll find that's not so easy.

Review: With 'Night of the Living Dead' director George A. Romero really made an impression and became one of the most prolific independent horror film directors of the 1970s. However, none of the films he made between 1970 and 1978 made a big impact. Sure 'The Crazies' and 'Martin' have gone on to have cult followings, but it wasn't until Romero made a sequel to his 1968 hit that he would hit it big again. It took 10 years, but judging by the overwhelming positive response I'm sure it was worth it. It's so rare that a sequel even equals it's predecessor, even rarer that it surpasses it and 'Dawn' does just that.

Where as the first film is a slower, more somber and creepy film, this first sequel is bigger, more violent, more visceral, and quicker in pace. In other words, it's like a more pumped up version of the original. Not that I'm saying it's a xerox copy, that it isn't, but at the same time certain things do carry over so that this doesn't feel too different. There's also the fact that it's in color, which feels surreal after watching the two films back to back. And the films compliment each other so well in that what happens in 'Dawn' is perfect progression after the events of 'Night.'

As in the original, the cinematography is stellar. Just about each shot is perfect. The score, done by the famous Italian group Goblin, is exciting and just plain cool. The performances are all very good. Instead of people who look like they belong on a runway, Romero has chosen everyday-looking people. And again Romero injects much intelligence into his writing. Like the first film this too has a bit of the old social commentary in it.

One of the flaws of the original was that there wasn't much depth to the characters. Not that I'm saying there's much more here, but this time the roles do have some more meat to them. As usual Romero is able to keep things unpredictable. Sure compared to the 2004 remake this film's pacing isn't as quick, but the film is still very well-paced. It never drags or goes to fast. Not that gore hadn't been seen before, but at the time 'Dawn' was most likely the bloodiest and goriest zombie film that had come and there's plenty of both.

To keep things from getting too serious, there is a bit of humor. For example, in the portion of the film with the bikers they make fools of the zombies by throwing pies in their faces. Though not extremely scary, the film does have a few frightening images and a feeling of doom in some scenes. And then there's the finale, which is when the blood and guts really flow. It's also quite an electrifying experience.

There really are few flaws, at least major ones. The biggest problem is that some things, like the fashion and mall decor, really date the film. Thankfully the next two films in the series didn't have this problem. The other thing is that the film runs on maybe just a little bit too long. I mean don't get me wrong, I'd rather see a 2 hour+ horror film than a 60 minute one, but maybe they could have shaved off a few minutes. Otherwise I really have nothing bad to say.

It's great when a director to makes a film that hits, but for them to make another that's an even bigger hit that's both in the same genre and is a sequel is tremendous and shows they're not a "one trick pony." Now onto, as it's so eloquently put in the trailer, "The darkest day of the horror the world has ever known...Day of the Dead!"

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