Dawn Of The Dead (1978)

(On DVD, March 2007) Nervous nellies who think that remakes destroy the original work can relax a little: I’m one of those weird people who have seen the Zack Snyder remake before the original Dawn Of The Dead, I can reassure everyone that the original remains unspoiled and enjoyable on its own term: It’s a tight and terrific horror film that shares a premise with the remake but almost none of the plot. The satirical intent is certain clearer here than in the 2004 version: The idea of the mall both as a fortress and a gathering point is amusing, and the very idea of running around a mall for weeks on end smacks of wish-fulfilment. But the horror scenes also work well, and the mounting dread of the zombie apocalypse going outside the mall is frightening enough. Decades later, some pieces aren’t as successful: the introduction takes up too much time, the truck-running sequence is flabby and the character balance feels wrong. (All of which were improved in the remake.) Still, Dawn Of The Dead remains a pretty enjoyable film even today, and there aren’t a lot of films from 1978 who can still claim that.

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