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Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Well, I am pleasantly surprised. I honestly went into this movie expecting nothing at all, besides maybe a boring zombie flick. Let me uniformly state that I have been reformed. As of now, I like zombie movies.

Now, this movie has managed what only very few horror movies manage to do - it kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole time, and sometimes, my jaw just dropped.

Now, I guess everyone knows the premise of the movie (even I did, and I had never seen the original): During a zombie outbreak of magnificent magnitute, a group of survivors hides in a mall. Doesn't sound too interesting, mh? Well, that's what I thought as well.


From the beginning on, Dawn of the Dead keeps a fast pacing - not too fast, mind you, and I really enjoyed it. There are hardly minutes in which nothing happens - fast, tight, and good. I am refraining from making a quickie-joke now.
Also, the introductory scenes - when everything is still "normal", that is, without the living dead running around - provide a very good contrast to the terror that follows. Especially since you know exactly that all hell is going to break lose, if you have ever seen a horror movie. I was gleefully thinking "enjoy your last peaceful hours... you won't have any for a long time."

I will never be able again to see that without instantly thinking of this:

AWESOME! It's the End of Days! I love it.

And I want to reiterate again that running zombies are just so much better than slow, shambling zombies. I don't care how many of them are running around, if I can out"run" them with a leisurely pace, I just don't feel threatened. Running zombies, however... creepy as hell. And the noises they make are awesome and just all around perfect.

Also, it's the small details that really enhanced the movie-experience for me.

Greater Milwaukee Area - YOU'RE SO FUCKED.

And now... the opening credits start, complete with Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around". Awesome. I already am hooked on the movie, and it hasn't even started properly.

Also, I am apparently psychic when it comes to horror flicks. The second I saw the pregnant woman I was wondering how the baby would be affected by an infection. Because that's stuff I am thinking about. Far too much, some might say.

As soon as our survivors have arrived in the mall and cleansed it from zombies, the movie starts to show the side that I consider to be its main strength: The emotional impact of their situation is superbly played by the actors. Even the annoying characters were portrayed really good. Blame it on my usual fare of indies and obscure B-Movies, but the acting was superb all the way through.

Dawn of the Dead really managed to capture the social dynamics of our group of survivors par excellence. In a world where there is nothing but your own survival, humans become what they essentially are: Wolves at each one another's throats. Add to that the ever-present feeling of distrust and the dynamics of power, and you're in for a ride through the darkness of what humans are willing to do to survive in rough times. And I guess a zombie apocalypse counts as "rough times"...

And I want to add that I have a soft spot for Ken Foree. He delivered the classic lines that pretty much everyone knows with an eerie intensity. You all know what I'm talking about.

"When there's no more room in Hell, the Dead will walk the Earth."

And oh, Andy. Andy is stranded alone in his gun store across the mall's zombie-infested parking lot. And when I say "zombie-infested" I mean "fucking hell, that's...OMG...".
I got to love Andy. The genuinely oppressive mood of the movie actually gets a bit of a lighter touch through that guy (and he's one hell of a shot as well). I had to laugh out loud when he and Kenneth, the police seargeant, played chess. It was a much needed moment of lightheartedness, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Things start to get downhill from there. Another group of survivors of humanity's collapse before the zombie apocalypse arrive - one of them an extremely ugly woman who is so obviously dying that I had to wonder why anyone would care to do anything else than mercykilling her. Well, of course that fat lady was infected - and our "heroes" (I use the term reluctantly) finally find out how the epidemic spreads.

Again, it's the small details that made this movie shine for me. After the fat woman dies, no one knows her name. You'll know what I'm talking of when you see it.

Also, the zombie-shooting with Andy was awesome. "Burt Reynolds!" I was giggling uncontrollably.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but a few more points: The first use of fire against the zombies down in the underground parking garage was unsettling and really powerful, in every way this can be taken.

Of course, I shouldn't forget the pregnancy. If you're anything like me, you'll know that a pregnant woman in a horror flick is pretty much game. Unless it's one of those tame PC-movies. Dawn of the Dead gives us exactly what we expected from the beginning: Zombie pregnancy! At which point I have to confess that I didn't manage to keep my suspension of disbelief up. I mean, look at this:

Does that look like anything else than a zombie baby to you? No? Well, that's what I thought. The question is... how long have they been trapped in the mall? We don't get to know how long it is, but judging from the fact that Andy was trapped alone in his gun store across the parking lot, not THAT long, because even a gun-toting awesome guy like Andy can't possibly have had that much food stored in his house.

So, the question is... when did the baby die? And as it doesn't look as if it died only when its mother finally went to heaven or something like that... shouldn't it have tried to get out of the womb or eat its way out? I am still pondering that.

Anyways, the pregnancy really made me squirm uncomfortably. There's something about bloated bellies that just makes me feel slightly sick.

Now those were the pros.


The blood was too bright and looked clearly fake. It never appears to dry on people's faces/arms/wounds/whatever either, and the consistency is a bit too... squishy and fluid.

Also, there were three characters that just annoyed the shit out of me. One was Andre, a young black man (and, incidentally, batshit insane and father-to-be of zombie-baby), the other one his stupid Russian wife, and the teenage girl (who really doesn't look like a teenager - I look more like a teenager then her, and I'm 24).

Those are pretty much the only negative points I can bring up... asides from a few WTF?!-moments.

First - how the fuck does the zombified neighbour girl get into the house? Don't people in the US lock their doors? That was a big WTF? for me.

Another point was the utter obliviousness of the characters to horror movies. I mean, granted, it would have taken some of the tension away if they had figured out that the ...people, and I use the term loosely, they are up to are zombies. But good Gods, at least ONE person should have mentioned something like zombies. Movies don't happen in a cultural vacuum... Also, good plain logic? If someone who only has one arm left and looks pretty much dead runs at you with frighteningly high speed, I'd figure to shoot them somewhere else than in the leg. Like in the head. Or maybe I have watched to many movies or am far too interested into undead things that go bump in the night.

Also, where did crazy "I'm going to be a daddy!"-guy get his ammo from? The guy generally cracked me up, in a negative way. With his stupid wife.

"We need to go to the hospital!" - HELLLOOOOOOOOO?! ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?!

But yeah, those were the only things that pissed me off a bit, and they were obviously outweighed by the sheer awesomeness that is the remake of Dawn of the Dead.

A truly nerve-wrecking hell of a ride, with a superb soundtrack and score. And make sure you sit through the credits! This movie deserves bonus points for severed zombie head and lots of more zombie goodness. Gory enough to satisfy gorehounds, and it delves right into the mayhem, destruction, brutality and hopelessness that such a Dawn of the Dead would produce.


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