DAWN OF THE DEAD/DAY OF THE DEAD. A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
DAWN OF THE DEAD. 1978. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY GEORGE A. ROMERO AND DARIO ARGENTO. MUSIC BY ‘GOBLIN’ AND DARIO ARGENTO. MAKE-UP AND SPECIAL EFFECTS BY TOM SAVINI. STARRING KEN FOREE, SCOTT REINIGER, DAVID EMGE AND GAYLEN ROSS.
DAY OF THE DEAD. 1985. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY GEORGE A. ROMERO. MUSIC BY JOHN HARRISON. MAKE-UP AND SPECIAL EFFECTS BY TOM SAVINI. STARRING LORI CARDILLE, JOSEPH PILATO AND SHERMAN HOWARD.
I learned two important things about zombies and zombie apocalypses from this pair of brilliant sequels to one of the most iconic horror films of all time, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. One, a shopping mall is a terrific place to hide out when there’s no more room in hell and the dead are walking the earth. Didn’t I put that poetically, horror fans…? Snigger. Secondly, a zombie can be trained to shave, read Stephen King horror novels and listen to music on headphones if you systematically feed him savoury chunks of your fallen comrades out of a slop bucket. Sweet…
Seriously, watching these two films back-to-back is the most fun I’ve had since beginning my much-documented horror odyssey a couple of years ago. They’re fast-paced with good storylines and the music is fantastic, especially in DAWN. Also, the make-up and special effects are personally handled by Tom Savini, for whom DAWN was the first film on which he worked as an effects artist.
The zombies in DAY are uglier and more advanced than the ones in DAWN, a direct result, I suppose, of advances in special effects that took place in the intervening seven years. I think I prefer the ones in DAWN, though, even though they’re less sophisticated. There’s just something cuddly about them. I wasn’t scared of them in the slightest, which suited me down to the ground as the lifelong fear of the living dead which I’ve been trying valiantly to conquer has caused me many a sleepless night. I’m not kidding. I still have nightmares about Michael Jackson’s THRILLER video!
DAWN OF THE DEAD sees four survivors hiding out in a shopping mall while outside the zombie apocalypse rages all around them. They’re spectacularly well-set-up and comfy in their new home. They’ve got food from the supermarkets, guns ‘n’ ammo from the hunting shops, fur coats, make-up and jewellery from the department stores and all the booze they can chug-a-lug. No wonder they don’t make any attempts to leave the mall for most of the film. They’re all as snug as bugs in rugs.
They hardly have any trouble with the zombies, who are not very proactive and who shuffle about the mall aimlessly in an obvious parody of real shoppers. My personal favourite is Hare Krishna Zombie. He even has his little tambourine still attached! These zombies are so slow-witted that the four humans seem to be able to zip around the mall unmolested every time they fancy a packet of fags or something. It made me feel more positive about a possible real-life zombie apocalypse happening here in Ireland. If zombies are that easy to escape and outwit, we should all be grand.
I genuinely think that this is one of the cleverest and funniest horror films I’ve ever seen. It has a lot to say about pointless consumerism and the end scene with an overhead view of the zombies shuffling about to upbeat music is just hilarious. This film has so much warmth and heart in it, despite being a film about zombies, that it actually left me with a nice fuzzy feeling in my midsection. DAY OF THE DEAD is a much colder, darker film, but it’s still top-notch stuff.
DAY sees a bunch of military personnel and a group of scientists uneasily holed-up side-by-side in a military facility in Florida while outside rages… You guessed it. The Zombie Apocalypse. The scientists are working desperately to find a solution to the zombie pandemic by dissecting the zombies they manage to capture. It’s unbelievably gory stuff. There’s blood and guts all over the shop as ‘Dr. Frankenstein’ in particular does the most revolting things to the Un-Dead, who clearly do not have a union leader or they’d never put up with such shoddy treatment. If you like a good old gore-fest to go with your bedtime cocoa, then this film ought to do the trick, no bother.
Any-hoo, the military personnel, led by the psychotic Captain Henry ‘I must have a really small weiner or else why would I throw my weight around with such an unnecessary degree of force?’ Rhodes, have a real problem with the medical experiments on the zombies. The scientists aren’t solving the problem fast enough for the soldiers’ liking, for one thing.
The soldiers are even more unhappy when they find out that their dead buddies are being fed to the lab zombies as ‘rewards.’ When the s**t hits the fan, neither soldier nor scientist is safe, either from the zombies or from each other. It’s all incredibly bloodthirsty stuff. The special effects are mind-bogglingly good and Bub The Zombie deserves a special Zombie Oscar. He kicks ass…!
I’m sad that I’ll never again get to watch these movies for the first time. I have my memories, though. And the box-set. And I’m taking the precaution of putting together a Zombie Apocalypse Kit just in case the day ever comes. I’ve got my fur-coat, a wheelbarrow and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Well, if it’s good enough for them…!
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY