16 October 2012

October 16th

Dawn of the Dead (2004) directed by Zack Snyder
Like Night of the Living Dead, one of those rare horror remakes that does not suck.  Me, I wouldn't say this one is better than the 1978 original, but I can understand folks who may differ.  It depends on what you want out of a movie, really.  For me, the original's main appeal is that it has something -- several things -- to say about the human condition and our culture.  In this new one, I don't really think it has much to say.  It's an action movie at heart and is primarily interested in providing thrill after thrill for the audience.  And it does a good job at that.  This is one of the most exciting zombie movies out there.

I still hate fast zombies.  The deceptive danger of slow zombies is part of their appeal as a monster.  It's always fun to watch characters realize that the lumbering dead aren't as big of a pushover as they think.  That bickering in a farmhouse until so many have surrounded them that it's impossible to escape was perhaps a mistake.  With fast zombies, well, gee whiz, of course they're dangerous.  There's no grim discovery necessary here when even one of them will run at you in a full sprint and tackle you like a football player.  Plus, there's really no point in making them reanimated corpses.  Might as well go the 28 Days Later route and making it living people infected with super-rabies.  It doesn't change anything.

I like that this remake is kind of a remake of Romero's entire trilogy.  While the setting is grabbed from Dawn, we get the news reports from Night (with Savini and Foree cameos!) and the ending -- sort of -- from Day.  I'd also throw out there that mallcop CJ starts out walking in Cooper's shoes and tough Ana feels like remake Barbara.

However, I never feel like they use the mall setting as well as they could.  The place felt like a home in the original, and we knew its width and breadth by the time the film ending.  Here, I feel like the mall only consists of a couple of stores and a coffee kiosk.  The place lacks character.  Outside of one little montage, Snyder seems completely disinterested in showing the characters enjoying their home and exploring the treasures it contains.  Part of the appeal of the "living in a mall in the apocalypse" idea is that it means suddenly inheriting all of this "stuff" to play with; to run wild in a public space in a way impossible before; to essentially make a bad-ass fort like when you were a kid.  I don't know.  I don't see horror fans making pilgrimages to Thornhill Square Shopping Center like they do (and I did) to the Monroeville Mall.  It's just not the same.

Watched: blu-ray from Universal.

The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed
Special Report: We Interrupt this Program!

The Walking Dead 2.04: "Cherokee Rose" directed by Bill Gierhart
I love the scene in which they pull the walker out of the well.  It such a normal farm-type thing -- coming together to fish a critter out of the well -- but made so much more complicated because it's a zombie down there.  That sort of sums up the world they're living in: pre-industrial, but a far bigger pain in the ass due to the millions of dead people running around.  I suspect, also, this episode is the template for the rest of the season: there's one nice set piece with a zombie or two in it, and the rest of the episode is spent with characters talking to each other.  Given their TV show budget and the source material -- which often has large breaks of non-zombie character stuff -- this shouldn't be a surprise.  Hopefully, the character stuff doesn't become too soap-opera-y, which is a real danger given these characters and their situation (pregnancy, love triangle and lies, oh my!).

The Walking Dead 2.05: "Cupacabra" directed by Guy Ferland
The helicopters dropping napalm on Atlanta in the flashback: great, great apocalyptic visual.  Seeing something like that would break any ideas that life could ever be normal again.

Gotta say, I'm pretty sick of the search for Sophia.  The episode attempts to ask some good questions -- utilitarian Shane wants to stop the search and move on and Rick disagrees -- but I find myself just getting angry with the kid for wasting everyone's time.  She'd better have a good excuse for leaving the hiding place Rick put her in!

Hey, Merle's back!  Oh, it's just a lame delusion that only movie people seem to get when they need inspiration.  I want one-handed Merle for real, dammit!


  1. You're kinder to Dawn of the Dead's remake than I am. I was pretty much annoyed by everything, up from the characterization of the stupid assholes we follow throughout most of the film, down to the justification of going to to mall in the first place ('We're going to the mall' is the line, right? And that's it?). Maybe I liked, conceptually, the husband keeping his zombie wife and newborn alive, in secret. And the opening credits. I know I completely checked out of it when they sent the dog out into the rotting horde and all the zombies ignore it. WHAAAT

  2. "We're going to the mall" is kinda clever. The two groups met and discovered each direction was a no-go, but the mall happened to be right over the hill. What do people do when they don't know what else to do? "Eh, let's go the mall."

    I'm willing to accept zombies aren't interested in puppies, kind of like how alligators don't give a crap about birds landing on them. But, the girl going after the dog... no. Lame.

    Love the interaction with Andy. Being stuck in these little islands of building surrounded by a sea of zombies, having to communicate with whiteboards. Very cool.