Saturday, June 26, 2004
DAWN OF THE DEAD: ULTRA-LOVELY
by Reymundo Salao
The Guardian, June 26-27. 2004
When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth. That’s a really cool sounding tagline, especially if you have a creepy deep baritone voice to say it with. This is the tagline for the movie “DAWN OF THE DEAD” which is now (FINALLY!) showing in our local cinemas. This movie is actually a remake of the 1978 movie “Dawn of the Dead” which is actually part 2 of George Romero’s “Dead Trilogy” with “Night of the Living Dead” as its part 1 (1968), and “Day of the Dead” as part 3 (1985). In 1990, Tom Savini directed a very impressive remake of “Night of the Living Dead”. This is the version which has lately been shown over the cable TV movie channels. To the new eager fans of the Dead Saga, this film can be a good prologue to watching “Dawn…”
Rewinding back to 1995 when I first played The Resident Evil playstation game, my love for the zombie genre was reawakened, and ever since then, I have been looking for a copy of the 1978 movie “Dawn of the Dead,” that classic zombie film that I saw when I was still in my elementary years, which at the time, is THE best zombie movie made. The world of zombies is a perverse morbid wonderland, a world laid to waste by lumbering flesh-hungry walking corpses. I searched high and low, from all the old video shops that have survived the Betamax era, up to the new video shops and video stores, hoping I could find a re-release of it on VCD or DVD format. So far, DVD copies of it are sold in the US. I’ve also been scouring the Pirated DVD stalls where it is more reliable source, when looking for classics. Finally, when rumors came out that a “Dawn…” remake was going to be released, I went nuts! I was like bereserking out in excitement, but I was also afraid that the remake would only tarnish the reputation of the original. Just like that “Planet of the Apes” movie which COMPLETELY ruined the rep of the original. The original was superb, the remake was mosquito-manure.
What terrified me more was finding out that this “Dawn of the Dead” remake was made without the personal approval of George Romero, and that the scriptwriter was the same scriptwriter for the “Scooby Doo” movie. I was like WADAPAK?! The director was a nobody too, I mean, who’s ever heard of Zack Snyder?
But my paranoia was laid to rest when I saw the movie. IT WAS MARVELOUS. Well, not in a “blue-sky, butterflies in your stomach-kind-of-marvelous”… but more like chaotic-creepy-apocalyptic, bloody-gorey-morbid (something munching in your stomach), suspense-action-scare-feasting, panic-mayhem non-stop thrill-ride horror-drama! In a nutshell: a sh!tload of horror.
Getting right down to the details, this zombie movie goes directly into the mayhem without having a rather preachy prologue. In order to add to the sense of enigma, it is part of the Dead Trilogy not to give an exact explanation of how and why there are the zombies, except that of the closest logical explanation that it is some form of infection that is easily spread throughout the victims. In this remake, the zombies are a bit more hyperactive than the lumbering ones in the original. This makes sense because it would be more realistic for hyperactive zombies to decimate the Earth, than it is for the slow ones of the old movies. In our day and age, the military already have the science to quarantine such infections. In this movie, they can’t, because the zombies are fast and rabid, and have easily managed to turn cites into hell.
The storyline of this remake is indeed different from the original. But the idea of fortifying inside a mall for survival, remains. The film is so fast-paced that there is but little dull moments. And when the action and thrill slows down, it is replaced by interesting dialogues, attention-grabbing scenes, and a storyline that balances the eye-candy with a rich plotline of survival, human nature, and the drama of choosing the greater good in a time of chaos. “You can discover more about a man in an hour of plague, than in a year of conversation.” This is an old Greek proverb (duhh… was it Plato? Socrates?) that can be applied in this movie, Because we cannot deny that calamities may bring out either the best in us or the worst in us, reflected by the variation of well-developed characters. And to think that in a fast-paced movie, these characters were developed merely by their admirable acting.
Horror or non-horror fans will surely get a munch of good meat (get it?) out of “Dawn of the Dead.” You do not want to miss this apocalyptic zombie-fest. Right now, I am hoping that they will remake “Day of the Dead” as well. And I still am searching for a copy of the original 1978 version of “Dawn…” Got a copy? Pahulama ta bi!