November 25th, 2004

Conan the King (Conan the Barbarian)

Grrr. Argh...

Okay, the last thing I really wanted to do after the whole Night of the Living Dead affair last week was to see another damn zombie movie, but I have to say that this was a fantastic execution of a pretty damn cheeky move.

Remaking a George A. Romero zombie film is a pretty tall order, and I don't think that Tom Savini was all that successful with his redo of Night of the Living Dead, which lacked much of the rawness that made the original so successful. This version of Dawn of the Dead concentrates on making very interesting characters, and the cast is uniformly outstanding, with some very understated but naturalistic turns by Sarah Polley, Ving "Marsellus fuckin' Wallace" Rhames (Quentin, make another movie with this guy, he's awesome), Jake Weber (the only really good part of U-571) Mekhi Phifer and, shock of all shocks, an amazingly moving turn by Max Headroom himself, Matt Frewer. Some of the gore effects are a bit unnerving, but nothing on the order of how gross that scene in the original NOTLD is (you know the one I mean), and while the social commentary from the original is a bit muted in James Gunn's screenplay, it is still there, and there are little moments when it makes some comments of its own. It is, on the whole, some pretty damn good dramatic storytelling on the part of director Zach Snyder.

One can definitely see the influence of 28 Days Later here, although these are slightly more restrained in comparison to the adrenaline-charged deadites from that film. The way in which Snyder and Gunn combine the Romero dramatics with Danny Boyle's physicality is great, and the slickness of this new film never felt too forced to me. In fact, Matthew F. Leonetti's supersaturated 'scope frame (the Super 35 image looks great on DVD, but I expect that it looked like most Super 35 films do in the theater... like sandpaper) is one of the film's best assets.

Now, I have to somehow get to sleep. Promise me if they bite me, you'll do me in before I change?
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    Jeez! Nothing at the moment! I have to listen for zombies!
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Conan the King (Conan the Barbarian)

Well, hell.

When my mother asked if I knew where everything was, I told her I did. Harrumph. I had some really outdated information... waitaminute... was that a zombie? Damn it, I knew watching that movie was a bad idea... ;-)
Conan the King (Conan the Barbarian)

A Thanksgiving Zombie Post!!! How's that for original!?!

Well, the morning after I can say that Dawn of the Dead remains an unqualified success.

Okay, it's not just DOTD, it's DOTD in conjunction with that recent, so effective viewing of NOTLD that have sort of given me zombie overload. In general, movies don't really have the power to scare me anymore. I can be shocked, but that is not the same thing, and while good shocks can be a lot of fun to watch (most thrillers are based on them), the movies that really scare me, such as Alien and the original version of The Haunting, do so by being conceptually frightening to me. Just as the brain is the biggest erogenous zone, so is the brain the best fear center. One of the main reasons why I don't think gore has the same effect today as it did in the original NOTLD, even today, is because what is horrifying about that scene is what it is about, not what you are seeing. The ultra-stylization that has occured in horror movies today actually has the effect of minimizing the implications of violence while reveling in the spectacle of it. NOTLD still works because of its rawness, and while its zombies are slow, they are relentless and en mass. The new DOTD manages to evoke a similar sense of desperation (in some ways, I think, better than the original DOTD, which puts one in a similar headspace. I am not saying that the new DOTD is as effective as the original NOTLD, but the combination of the two was... well, let's just say that it left me with some sore nerves.

No, I didn't have nightmares (I don't usually anyway), but some of those idle waking up thoughts were just not pleasant (they involved contigency plans in case my family all turned out to be zombies this morning).
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    exhausted zombied out
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