I've never been a huge fan of zombie films- well I enjoy them I just wouldn't call myself an aficionado. My knowledge on zombie films is limited so I'm by no means an expert but I do find that zombie films carry with them one of the most thought provoking themes or motifs or issues or whatever the hell they are called these days. As I've said before in my Night of the Living Dead review, zombies are us- and we are pitted against a less attractive, less desirable form of ourselves in hopes of staying alive. This "other side" is seldom talked about or named but extremely dangerous and underrated in it's possibilities of destruction. Ok ok you got me I'm just talking gibberish. What I really mean to say is that zombies are probably the most interesting bad guys in any horror movie period.
Dawn of the Dead picks up more or less where Night of the Living Dead left off-ignore the slight change in decade. The epidemic has spread- we find that larger cities are having a harder time dealing with the outbreak- you know more people more confined spaces sort of thing. We meet 4 characters who have fled from their homelands and after an unsuccessful getaway to Canada, find themselves holed up in a shopping mall. This is their story. *SVU music*
I love Dawn of the Dead because every single thing that the characters do while in the mall is pretty much exactly what I would do. I really couldn't think of a better place to be- which of course has to do with that whole consumerism thing but whatever I like my consumer goods so stuff it. The idea of the zombie returning to the mall because it is a piece of their past life that will never go away is hilarious and sort of disturbing at the same time. I love how the mall basically goes on with it's everyday life despite the zombie outbreak. Shopper's alerts, elevator music, it's all so delightful! It's kind of a nice cheery way to get Ben's death out of your head from Night of the Living Dead. Sure there is an impending doom pounding on each of the character's heads- but at least they can play tennis!
Tom Savini's makeup effects are unconquerable- I love the screwdriver in the ear, the knife chop on the face, the zombies ripping apart that motorcyclist and just the overall look of the zombies. Although Tom may not have been pleased with the blue color the zombies turned out to be I can pretty much say that I completely dig it. I love that each zombie has a personality and a look. My favorite zombie will always be the Hare Krishna zombie
Isn't he just a delight? Which than of course begs the important question; who's your favorite zombie? Actually I'd have to give an honorable mention to the baseball zombie because he seems to still have some emotional bonds intact which I can understand- I mean who wants to get bit by a zombie while playing baseball? Nobody.
But what I'm really here to talk about today is the supporting members of the cast that many of you may have forgotten. I'm talking of course about the mannequins. As much as I hate those Old Navy commercials, they have taught us that mannequins may have a soul or a heart after all. So it is my belief that the mannequins were probably treated pretty poorly and did not receive any benefits or compensations for their roles. Even the zombie extras got 20 bucks and t-shirt- but all the mannequins got was a change of clothes and maybe a limb screwed back on- if that! Most of them probably got thrown in the trash actually...pity pity. So I've put together a nice compilation of the unsung heroes, the mannequins of the mall.
Whoops that's not a mannequin- it's Francine! The resemblance is pretty remarkable though. It's cool... whenever I'm bored I dress up as a trashy hooker too- no worries.
Well that's that- and now I hope you pay more attention to their screen time- which they have an awful lot of....probably something to do with the juxtaposition of zombies- or undead humans against mannequins- or fake humans made to be desirable versions of ourselves- or SOMETHING who knows.
Other things to ruminate on; the kick ass character of Francine- who worried me in the beginning but really grew on me- thank goodness for the women's movement (move over Barbra). How creepy and unsettling that scene in the tenement at the beginning is...the basement with the zombies- some still wrapped in sheets or body bags and bah- possibly one of the more creepier scenes I've ever seen. I guess there are grocery stores in malls now? Sweet. The possible alternate ending of both Peter and Francine's suicide and how that changes our overall perspective of the film. And finally my personal favorite- the very obvious fact that the real threat is ourselves. The motorcyclists are way scarier and more devastating than those pesky zombies. And plus they ruined EVERYTHING.
Buy Dawn of the Dead at Horror Movie Empire