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Sunday, October 08, 2006


Directed by George Romero

I'm ashamed to say that I've never been to Pittsburgh but it's on my list of future vacation spots. George Romero and Tom Savini are the two big reasons why. They both hail from this fine city built on steel and it was their combined talents that made "Dawn of the Dead" the great movie that it is. The two actually met in high school and Savini would've been on board for the original "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) if he hadn't been called away by Vietnam. His experience in that war as a combat photographer gave him the chilling first hand experience with real gore and human death that would inform his innovative special effects. He would contribute his talents to a bunch of films including the brainless splatter fest "Friday the 13th" (1980) but "Dawn of the Dead" is the best. In David J. Skal's essential history of 20th Century horror "The Monster Show" he eloquently links the Vietnam experience with the visceral new brand of cinema that followed, "Horror films of the seventies and eighties began exhibiting symptoms remarkably similar to some of those suffered by victims of post-traumatic stress syndrome: startle reactions, paranoia, endless scenes of guerilla-like stalking, and, like traumatic flashbacks, endlessly repeated images of nightmare assaults on the human body, especially it's sudden and explosive destruction". "Dawn of the Dead" has some memorable mayhem. A group of four humans barricade themselves inside a mall to keep a growing number of ravenous zombies at bay but the hungry dead eventually spill inside while battling a crazed group of bikers and the violence escalates into a true bloodbath. This is an intelligent and troubling work co-produced by Dario Argento that has lost none of it's power. "Day of the Dead" followed in 1985 and continued to document the zombie apocalypse in an increasingly bleak fashion.


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