If you -Dial “Z” for Zombies-, the operator may end up connecting you with the -King of the Zombies- but learn to -Let Sleeping Corpses Lie-. Just hang up and listen to Zombie Master review Dawn of the Dead from 1978.
Hell is Full, and Zombie Master is here to be your bringer of light. As promised this review is Zombie Master’s number one all time favorite zombie movie, the classic 1978 George A. Romero version of Dawn of the Dead. We enter in on a very seventies red carpeted wall, and meet our first friend for the evening Fran sleeping against it. She is having a nightmare and is woken up by a sudden musical twang. After that we our simple title card saying Dawn of the Dead, overtop of her.
We see that the news room of WGON-TV (Yeah… W Gone…) is in chaos, and that everyone is making fun of the scientist who is stating that you have to take out the brain. No one wants to believe it sadly. Even today, I believe no one would be able to come to terms with the walking dead people would indeed let their own sentimentality become their undoing. We see Fran making a decision not wanting to send people to closed rescue stations. Yet, the producer says that they need to keep the list up no matter what. In the end the whole news crew pretty much abandons their post, which I would do too. It also seems that the natives are restless and are wanting blood, as they seem ready to lynch the scientist who’s just letting them know what is going on. (Kill the messenger anybody?)
We meet Stephen (Our second friend for the evening, and Fran’s boyfriend it would seem), he tells her to meet him and don’t be late. He is the helicopter pilot for the station and it would seem that they will be stealing it to get away from all of this. She is tentative, but a tech tells her to go ahead and go, the government will be taking over at midnight anyway… their job is done. So with that we move over to a tenement that is about to be raided by what I can only guess is the National Guard.
Now with the guard we meet Wooley an annoying racist who we learn quickly is a few beers short of a six pack… Like six short. We meet another one of our friends for this movie Roger. He’s talking to a new kid when the gang members pop out, the first shot goes right through the new kid’s head (Gotta love beginner’s luck). One interesting thing about this scene is that the kid that gets shot in the head in this is just credited as “Young Officer on roof” However, Roger asks his name he says Rod. Rod is the actor’s name. Anyway… Wooley at this point has gone nuts with the shotgun, killing pretty much anything that is moving and is not white. One of the gang members is supposed to be Puerto Rican… But, he looks more like a Klingon from the original Star Trek series than like a Puerto Rican… Wooley gets him in the back with his shotgun and he falls off the roof of the building. Going inside, Wooley shoots everyone and everything until Roger finally realizes he has lost his figging mind. He tries to tackle Wooley then goes for a piggy back ride ending in getting thrown off, Wooley getting one through the chest from Peter our fourth and final friend for the evening.
Going inside the apartments it is the havoc you would expect people not wanting to believe their friends, pimps, and other acquaintances are really dead. We see them fight it out and one incompetent guy who has three guns still somehow manages to get bit by a slow CRAWLING zombie. After he puts one in his skull, Roger cannot take it anymore and goes downstairs. With that, Roger and Peter finally meet properly. Then a priest with a wooden leg comes out saying that no one will fight anymore and he gave them the last rights. Going into the room he just left, they find what I would call “the keeping room” with about twenty zombies tied up and/or tossed into a pen. Peter takes out most of them, Roger coming up when Peter is having to reload. Roger offers for Peter to come with him as he is going with Fran and Stephen, we cut to them coming up to the helicopter in a police car all the introductions done we get moving on.
Moving up to the sky we find Stephen falling asleep at the helm and Peter has to wake up him up. Sleep and flying just might be a dangerous combination methinks. They pass over what I believe is supposed to be the original Night of the Living Dead, passing over a farmhouse and we watch rednecks partying, drinking, and shooting the undead YYYEeeeee!!! HAAA!!! Now those be some fun times! Finally they stop at a small airfield for gas, the short of it is Stephen almost kills Peter because he is a horrific shot.
Peter has to kill two children (Which must have been pretty horrific and shocking… back then… Now it has been over used for dramatic effect.) Roger almost gets eaten by a zombie, but in a moment that is still pretty awesome even now the zombie steps up on a box and it’s off with his head!
Everyone is getting tired and they happen upon a mall. Now one interesting thing to me is that they say, “it is one of those big indoor malls”. Which to us in this era is so common place, but I hazard to guess that they were not as common back then because of this line. They land on top of what in reality is the Monroeville Mall located just outside of Pittsburg, PA., and I have to give a shout out real quick to Rose the only person I know who’s actually been there. Anyway… I Which I will add some links to the mall in the show notes. Going over the top of the roof, they find a civil defense room filled with supplies and boxes. Another piece of trivia is that this room was built for the movie and never really existed in the mall.
Once they get inside, Fran complains about the spam. Roger makes the point that no one brought a can opener and Spam comes with its own key. Which is a really good survival point, must remember to put some Spam in the survival supplies… *pause* and a can opener… heh… Going ahead, Roger and Peter decide that there is just too much stuff in the mall for them not to check it out. While Stephen sleeps the two go about waltzing downstairs, they find the keys to the kingdom, and head on out. With them gone Fran wakes up Stephen, he takes the gun… leaving her defenseless… as she is wanting to go on the roof and leave the other two. Once he has left, Fran almost gets eaten by a Hare Krishna zombie, and I just have to mention that I own the action figure of the Hare Krishna zombie. *laughing tone* Hey, I did say it was my favorite zombie movie after all. *end laughing tone* I will post a picture of it up on the post as well. Anyway… Back to the movie. Stephen goes about almost getting eaten because of his incompetence, but finally gets to the other two men. They make it back to the lair, and he is from this point on and for the rest of the movie Flyboy.
(Shout Out – http://draculabites.com/)
Continuing on, they find out that Fran is three or four months pregnant. Peter tells them he knows how to perform an abortion if they want. That was a highly controversial thing then even more than now, and that was a pretty bold thing to put in a movie at that time. Another thing I love is how Fran smokes throughout the whole movie, even though she’s pregnant. Anyway… Fran puts her foot down saying she will not play den mother, that she wants a vote, that she shouldn’t be left without a gun, and also that she wants to learn to fly the helicopter just in case anything happens to Flyboy (I think all smart things). One of the things I love about this movie also is she is a pretty strong female lead. After getting rested and their bellies full, they come up with the idea of going and getting trucks in order to block off the doors. Also… not a bad idea.
HOWEVER, as they do Roger suddenly starts acting like a loon, laughing hysterically, hooting, hollering, and pretty much screaming as they are outside getting the trucks. What does screaming do boys and girls? *children’s voice* Attract zombies! *End Children’s Voice* The thing is, it is honestly out of character from EVERYTHING Roger has done before this point. This has ALWAYS bothered me… ALWAYS! Every single time I watch it. They get the first truck joking around about how tall Peter is… Your Zombie Master can say these jokes are understandable having met Ken Foree who plays Peter. He is built like a linebacker and FIGGING Tall!! Going on… Roger gets worse and worse laughing and just losing it until Peter has to pull him back to reality. Yet… as was inevitable Roger gets bit on the arm and then the leg. They do get all the trucks in place. Then everybody comes out including Fran to clean the dead out of the place. After which we get one of the best and last really happy sequences of the movie with them all shopping. I love this sequence. There is so much fun about this from the arcade scene where we see them playing the original Star Trek arcade game (which if I remember right was the first Star Trek arcade game ever made) as well Roger in this even though I am always sad watching it he is great humor and comic relief. Closing off this wonderful sequence is THE scene of the movie, and one of THE greatest and most memorable scenes of all time in ANY zombie movie. All four of them standing in the finest of clothes looking out over the balcony then the greatest zombie movie line of all time. “When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”.
(Shout Out – http://www.herebezombies.com/)
Slipping forward, the happiness is drained out as Roger gets worse and worse while they keep having to move forward, boarding up the walk area making it look like it doesn’t exist and other such things. Roger dies and comes back all blue faced zombie, and Peter has to take him out. After awhile they get into a routine, and yet the natives are restless. In my not so humble opinion, it would seem for the situation that they could be a lot worse off certainly. After which we get a few more scenes with them having dinner and Peter drinking at Roger’s grave.
We see Fran and Flyboy in bed, looking like… well… let’s just say you have to wonder if Flyboy had erectile dysfunction. Afterward we see Fran looking wonderful in her Farrah Fawcett hairdo and Studio 54 make-up. We hear the loud speaker announce you can get free candy if you buy enough stuff. We see them back upstairs, with Fran laying out four plates while Peter and Flyboy drink and play cards. Seems she kinda became den mother anyway, but not for long shortly after she asks “What have we done to ourselves!” I would say that you’ve got yourself a SAFE place to stay for awhile. What is wrong with that?!?!? After the little tantrum, Flyboy finally teaches Fran how to fly the helicopter. However it draws the attention of a roving bicker.
Heading for destruction we see the biker gang decide that they want to loot the mall. One interesting thing of note is that various bikers in this were part of The Pagans Motorcycle Club. Anyway… Moving forward, the Bikers break in and wreak havoc, and hilarity ensues with them using the zombies like it is vaudeville. Pies in the face, seltzer and the whole bit… Flyboy shoots one of the bikers in his biggest act of stupidity, then he goes about shooting more, Peter is smart and says just let them take the mall. Which ends up with Flyboy on top of the elevator getting shot in the arm, then getting down to get the radio. Peter goes back to Fran and we sadly see Flyboy trying to get back up to the top of the elevator when the door opens and he gets the chew toy treatment…
Once back upstairs, Peter continues to wait for Flyboy where as Fran is ready to leave him. We see the zombies open the elevator doors, and when it opens the Flyboy zombie looks at them like guys… um yeah… I’m one of you. DUUUh. He goes about tearing down the wall him and Peter built, coming home and Peter takes him out. Peter tells Fran he is going to stay but in one last dramatic moment decides to not kill himself. One interesting thing of note is that the original script, Peter was supposed to kill himself and Fran was supposed to as well putting her head up into the Helicopter blades. He fights his way through the zombie horde and him and Fran fly off into the sunrise.
Well, my final thoughts. Obviously, since this IS your Zombie Master’s number one favorite zombie movie of all time I think it is absolutely amazing. Another thing is that for almost EVERY actor this was their second role which makes it all the more impressive. Yet, I still have some complaints. First of all, Roger’s sudden insanity should have been done more slowly it should NOT have just been hey! Where’re outside now. You know what fresh air does to me… it makes me soooo crazy! The second thing is one small little film flub, but still it is not like I have much to complain about here. There is a zombie at the beginning of their time in the mall that takes Roger’s gun and keeps a hold of it. Now, when they cleaned out the mall this walker would have been one of the ones killed… Yet… he shows up in the final scene. Funny enough when Peter sees him he looks just as shocked to see him as I was. Overall the buildup, the pacing, and everything else about this movie *pause* are amazing. Other than the ending, and that’s just my pet peeve with Romero endings that I will get into some other time. I consider this, the Masterpiece of zombie movies, one of the biggest things to me that sets it apart from other zombie movies is that one LIKES all of the main characters, unlike most zombie movies where you just want to see them get a little more than nibbled on. This one is one of the only ones where every time I watch it, I want them ALL to live. Add to that all the great lines such what Peter says: “When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth”. *short pause* Well, I guess we’re all in trouble because Hell is Full!
Annnnnnnnnnnd Fade to Black.
Know when you are outnumbered, Always watch out for crazy scented air, Never get too comfortable ANYwhere, and Remember Horror Never DIES!
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