Firstly i would like to thank everyone who actually gets to this blog to read it, it may not blow your socks off, but I've been wanting to write something like this for a while, and have finally decided to give it a go.Horror films have become a big part of my life, not in a sick or perverse way, but they have entertained me for years, some through their ability to deliver fear, and others through such imaginative perspectives on what our world could (if unrealistically) be capable of...
Dawn of the Dead
I know everyone has their own opinion on their favourite film, and i have too many to really pick just one, but my memory will always recognise George A Romero's 1978 film Dawn of the Dead as a first time i was introduced to such a fun, yet such a real image of what a global pandemic could possibly be like.
I know flesh eating zombies are a little far fetched, but i guess they are the elements that form the transition between the film being serious, and real to life.
As the trailer suggests "Imagine if you will, something has gone terribly wrong".
The film starts where Night of the living Dead left off, except there is no reference to the characters from the last film, Dawn of the Dead starts with another group of survivors, but the scale of the infection has grown, as the film launches you straight into the thick of the nightmare unravelling before your eyes.
The TV networks are struggling to keep it together, and are not doing very well in containing their emotions in light of the ever growing problems on the outside, with most of the rescue stations becoming inactive, the ratings hungry TV network boss is showing no remorse in leaving the knocked out stations posted to ensure people are still tuning in for help and advice, but knowingly sending them on a suicide mission.
Two members of the TV stations crew (Fran & Stephen) are plotting an escape via the news helicopter, before time runs out and they are stuck in the dangerous world that is becoming ever more deadly.
Meanwhile two SWAT teams have been dispatched into a gritty ghetto apartment block, to flush out and destroy the dead relatives of the remaining occupants that have been locked up in the basement of the building, refusing to comply with the SWAT teams, the living already held up in the apartment block open fire on the teams.
The dead are finally reached, and the doors are knocked in...
Floods of the dead spill out into the complex, giving the SWAT teams more to handle, needless to say, lives are lost, mostly in bloodthirsty gore, thanks to Tom Savini and his magical touches with the special effects (before the days when rubbish CGI was introduced).
Two members from either SWAT teams (Peter & Roger) unite to join Fran and Stephen in a bid to fly out of the big city, and head for somewhere less affected by the madness that has taken over most parts of the world.
Once in the air, the four main characters of the film, move onto a small town for fuel, where the local townsfolk are taking full advantage of brushing up on their shooting skills with the sudden influx of ghouls on their homeland.
They find a fuel pump out near some hangers, and take the opportunity to check for any additional materials, or supplies.
Roger is left to fill the helicopter, while the other three characters check out the area, its not long before they all bump into a few unwanted visitors...
Peter gets attacked by some local 'undead' children (which you can only see in the uncut version of the film) while Stephen (Aka 'Flyboy') and Fran bump into a couple of ghouls on their search. Thankfully they all manage to come away unscathed.
Roger is unaware of his attacker due to the noise of the chopper as he is refuelling, but thankfully (and in typical Savini fashion) the ghoul happens to be the perpetrator of his own demise, and happens to get a little too close to the propeller blades while climbing over some boxes in an attempt to get to Roger.
Just before you think its safe for Peter to relax, the best looking zombie in the film walks up to the door, and before Peter can even register the situation, hes also looking down the barrel of Flyboy's rifle in view beyond the ghoul. Peter leaps out the way as Flyboy opens fire with some awful shots (not really understanding the head shot rule!). Roger appears, and dispatches one single round from his assault rifle into the zombies cranium, bringing it to a swift stop.
The zombie that attacks Peter.
The characters take flight into the skies, after Flyboy gets a red ear from Peter about pointing guns at people, especially him, they eventually discover the Monroeville Mall which plays as the main backdrop for the rest of the film.
The rest I'm not going to ruin for anyone, as I'm starting to realise I'm just telling the film as opposed to telling you what i think about it. There you go, you have a taster.
What did i like about the film?
Firstly the great work, and effort that was put into the film, back when resources that are so readily available now, were probably more harder to get then. Yet Romero found ways to make it happen. Naturally he had more to play with on this film from the success of its predecessor NOTLD, which even today is a classic.
The filming inside the mall had to happen at night time naturally, which would have meant time was of the essence, and I'm sure the actors would have felt tired throughout the night making filming that slight amount more challenging.
Thirdly the gore, it wasn't till i bought the directors cut, that i realised how much i hadn't seen! Savini went mad on this film, and I'm sure it helped him into making effects for later films such as Friday the 13th and The Burning. The amount of fake blood that was splattered on those floors must have been a joy to clean up at the end of the day or night as the case may be.
The story itself unfolds in stages for me, you never really knew what was going to happen next, once the characters managed to lock down the mall, you had to ask what is going to be the next chapter? Are they going to move on in the future, or is this it?
Once Roger dies, you can feel the time is getting near where something is going to decide the fate for the remaining trio. You can feel the relationship between Flyboy and Fran starting to die, especially after she refuses his marriage proposal.
Peter seems lost without Roger, and the film does start to hit reality once again, that things are getting worse, regardless of the material world around the characters, especially when the TV broadcasts disappear, signalling that the end of civilisation is drawing closer.
Then out of nowhere, the story changes, when an army of looters attack the mall, leaving Peter and Flyboy to try their best efforts to save the world that they have made their own, when in reality it was stolen by them in the first place, ultimately the films final scenes show how greed becomes the downfall for the looters, and also Flyboy, who loses his life fighting to win back the Mall, in probably the goriest quarter of the film.
There was an alternative ending which was not used in the end, due to reasons unknown, but i feel it would have been better, in terms of closing off the stories of the characters.
Peter was meant to have shot himself in the head, in the hideout where the characters lived, and Fran was meant to put her head into the propeller blades, with the final credits rolling over the blades going round, till they slow to a halt showing that even had the two escaped, they would have run out of fuel, and probably died regardless.
The exploding head, that was going to be used in an alternative ending, when Fran was going to put her head into the propeller blades to end her life.
Thanks for reading guys, its nothing special but i just wanted to break the ice with a blog on a film i love, and i could have told so much more, but i would be here for weeks!
I will try to talk about another film in the near future.