Dawn of the Dead – 1978

Today’s selection is George Romero’s 1978 ‘Dawn of the Dead’ – another classic and a movie which I felt was very good, although some segments went on for longer than I felt absolutely necessary.

Dear George:

I admire your film-making ability and your grasp of all that makes zombie movies cool… but less social commentary and more shambling undead, please.

Love and kisses,

Me.

Dawn of the Dead opens with yet another Blonde Heroine, although this one isn’t wandering around any cemeteries, but leaning against a wall inside a television station, sleeping.

There’s no waiting around for the zombies this time as the title fades and she wakes to a loud, on-air argument and complete chaos. As the credits play over the shouting and carrying on among the station personnel, we cut to the televised argument about the zombies (or not, as the case may be) who are apparently rampaging in the streets as we speak.

Hence it following along after the horror that is ‘Night of the Living Dead’. Clever, that.

The station is in complete chaos. They’re shutting down the running of the emergency rescue stations as said stations are apparently being overrun by hordes of shambling undead. The on-air argument, which we’ve heard bits and pieces of between the swelling music, is raging between a Passionately Angry Man and a Cynical Television Interviewer.

Apparently all this has been going for three weeks, and the Passionately Angry Man is telling everyone to destroy the bodies before they get up again, and the Cynical Interviewer is chewing him out for his insane and radical views.

I am now offering odds as to how long it’ll be before the interviewer gets eaten. Any takers?

There is much shouting, arguing and carrying on amongst the station staff, including a question of the morality of running the out-of-date list of rescue stations, and chaos again prevails as half the staff grab their jackets and quit the station to get while the getting is good.

If I have one real beef with this movie it’s that I keep expecting some bearded bloke in a tweed jacket with leather bits sewn on over his elbows to pop up and tell me the social significance of some of the interactions and arguments – strangely enough, he sounds just like Ben Stein.

Bearded Bloke: The argument concerning the relative morality of continuing to show out-of-date emergency information so that people will remain tuned in to a particular news medium despite the hordes of *ahem* Shambling Undead outside their door, particularly when they are supposed to be rushing out to these aid stations instead of sitting at home in front of the tube while the neighbors run rampant through the streets and eat the paper boy, versus turning them off until correct information can be provided, shows us a graphic and poignant example of the desensitizing of the media to the plight of the common man.

I swear, I can hear these little monologues peppered throughout the movie; run-on sentences and all. If I have my way, you’ll hear them too.

Back to our movie in progress.

Despite an on-air interruption by the boss screaming at our Blonde Heroine (who was responsible for the decision to take the out-dated information off the air, thus earning herself bonus heroine points) everything is recovered and the previous argument between Passionately Angry Man and Cynical Interviewer rages on.

A favorite moment during the shouting match was when the Cynical Interviewer shouted indignantly to get the boss off the air because, “This is supposed to be a doggone television show,” much in the manner of an irate priest shouting at a juggling clown on a unicycle to get out of the funeral chapel because, “This is supposed to be a doggone solemn occasion!”

News flash, sunshine. The words ‘television show’ don’t hold a lot of weight when held up against the man-eating hordes outside.

Our Blonde Heroine is standing in a crowd of workers who start shouting at the interviewer and things dissolve into shouting and shoving and further abandonment of cameras and work duties, despite the fact that the Passionately Angry Man is reviewing all the totally common sense rules that we learned in the last movie.

Things I Learned from ‘Night of the Living Dead’.

1. Zombies will eat you.
2. Zombies cannot be reasoned with.
3. Zombies are extremely flammable.
4. Zombies need to have their heads shot/chopped off/staved in to be stopped and even then it’s best to set them on fire.
5. Never try to reason with a zombie.
6. Holing up in a deserted farm house is a sure recipe for disaster.
7. Never drive a truck while it’s on fire.
8. Getting bitten by a zombie = becoming a zombie.
9. In Soviet Russia, Zombie kills YOU.

A man enters the station and moves through the mob to mutter meaningfully into our Blond Heroine’s ear. Apparently a bunch of the employees are going to sneak out and steal the television station’s helicopter from the roof and escape. I dub the new arrival ‘Skeevy Pilot Guy’.

Whether they’re escaping the tyrannical boss or the undead which are presumably gathering outside is left up to the reader’s imagination. We’re at five minutes and twelve seconds and while civilization is apparently dissolving around us and the undead hordes are closing in, we have yet to actually see a single zombie.

C’mon, George. Don’t let me down….

Cut to a scene of a man rappelling dramatically down the side of a building and a Grim Mustachio-ed Man behind a police car with flashing lights, shouting through a bullhorn. “Martinez, you know we’ve got this building surrounded!”

No, we haven’t accidentally wandered into a police procedural. Still a zombie movie. Honest.

Over to the left, we get to listen to a small group of what are supposedly National Guardsmen and are treated to a decidedly racist monologue by one of them as he gets up to “blow all their [insert pejorative of choice here] asses right off.”

Taking bets again, this time as to the lifespan of the Racist.

We have a moment of brotherly-type bonding between the two other men in the shelter of the same wall and it as at this point that the Bearded Bloke makes another unscheduled appearance.

Bearded Bloke: What we’re seeing here is that violence is never the answer and that authority needs to also have responsibility. By using armed agents of the government and showing that they also are flawed and human, this film is intimating that personal responsibility is the most important thing and, that when given a choice between what you are told is right and what you know is right, you should always follow your own moral compass.

Occasionally this movie seems to have imported its moral message from the 60s instead of the 70s.

There is bloodshed and tragedy and mad blasting on all sides.

We have now had ample opportunity to observe the fact that one of our guardsmen is the heroic, brotherly type, and that the Racist likes to go around blasting random innocent people just for kicks. There is the inevitable confrontation between the Guardsman and the Racist, which the Guardsman loses

The Racist (after going on a bloody rampage through the building) is shot by another guardsman, sensibly hidden behind his gas mask as he just walked up the stairs through a huge cloud of tear gas. The body falls into a room that a bystander was shouting not to open. Hence, at 9 minutes and 11 seconds, we see our first half-eaten, gory corpse and, fourteen seconds later, our first zombie.

Luckily the Guardsman and his two hapless companions are well armed and, apparently, inured to zombies. Not-so luckily, the youngest guy’s gun jams. Even more unluckily, the zombie was not the only one in the apartment. There is a wild struggle and much violence.

One of the zombies escapes and, despite looking three days dead, his wife goes racing up to him to embrace him, screaming his name. He promptly eats her, surprising no one save the wife, who seems just a bit shocked.

She must not watch much television.

The youngest guardsman got bitten in the tussle and, in the aftermath, sensibly blows his own head off, thus saving the rest of the cast some much-needed ammo.

Our Guardsman takes cover in what looks like a laundry room and is confronted by the guardsman who shot the Racist. A tentative camaraderie is formed between them with talk of desertion and a shared cigarette. The budding friendship between Our Guardsman and the Sensible One is interrupted by the arrival of a one-legged priest, who wants them to let him pass to go upstairs.

During the course of the conversation it is revealed that many people have died in the building recently and after the last rites were said over them, they were put in the basement. Our Guardsman is obviously envisioning zombie carnage as he and the Sensible One exchange meaningful glances. The other guardsmen, upstairs, are apparently taking part in one of those heroic last stands that movies of this sort engender as a matter of course.

The Sensible One and Our Guardsman go into the basement and find a scene of zombie dining and undead struggling lose from their makeshift shrouds. While Our Guardsman keeps an eye out, the Sensible one calmly blows zombie heads off. The army eventually arrives and leaves our pair to bond among the bodies as they clear up the rest of the building.

A scene change takes us to Skeevy Pilot Guy, who is waiting for the Blonde Heroine by the helicopter. It’s uncertain as to whether he just shot the guy who was supposed to be keeping an eye on the helicopter or whether the guy was a zombie… but either way, the pilot fella lives up to his designation in the first few scenes.

Skeevy Pilot Guy and the Blonde Heroine are met by Our Guardsman and the Sensible One by the helicopter. This, apparently, was the plan for desertion mentioned in the laundry room earlier. Our intrepid foursome steals the helicopter as the rest of the base takes their chance and deserts also.

As they fly across the country, the helicopter passes over army convoys, groups of vigilantes not unlike the one that shot Our Hero in the last flick, and various groupings of the shambling undead. There’s a hunting party atmosphere complete with lots of beer and competitive shooting. Unsurprisingly, it is strongly reminiscent of the closing scene from the last movie.

It’s worth noting that the zombies in this movie wear way too much blue and green makeup. They look less like they’re decomposing and more like they were attacked by someone with a bucket of green paint.

Our Guardsman stays to fuel the chopper (while leaving it running – yay lack of common sense), while the other three explore. The Sensible One shoots at a clawing, scrabbling noise inside a closet as the zombies try to eat Skeevy Pilot Guy. The Blonde Heroine stands watches and dithers just a little too long as the zombies close in. This action loses her all her heroine points.

Rule One when trapped in a zombie movie – pay attention to your surroundings.

Our Guardsman wasn’t paying attention either and was almost jumped from behind by a zombie with Frankenstein’s Monster Square Head Syndrome. It climbed over the top of a wall of crates to get at him, however, and got the top of its head neatly chopped off… thus explaining the make-up department’s confusion about which horror movie they were actually preparing their actors for.

Meanwhile, the closet door opens and a pair of cute little zombie children leap out at the Sensible One. After a moment of shock and surprise, he lives up to his label and shoots them in the head.

I’ve never understood the characters that get all emotional about undead children. Big, small – it’s still going to eat your face. Refusing to kill it is only providing them with a free meal.

Outside, Skeevy Pilot Guy has retrieved a gun and is shooting at one of the zombies that jumped him earlier. He shoots it in the chest a few times before Our Guardsman knocks his rifle out of the way, takes aim, and shoots it in the head.

Back inside, the Sensible One is reloading when a bald zombie in the sort of plaid shirt that is often featured on the Red Green Show shows up and shambles toward him. Over its shoulder, he sees someone else and, sensibly, ducks. A few shots in the chest later, Our Guardsman again elbows Skeevy Pilot Guy out of the way and shoots it in the head.

Our Guardsman is quite the marksman.

Meanwhile, the Blonde Heroine manages to gain negative heroine points for weeping and sobbing instead of helping herself to a gun and doing something useful. What does George Romero have against blonde women, one wonders? Skeevy Pilot guy comes over to console her and is interrupted by the Sensible One, who comes up and chews him out for pointing a gun at him.

Rule Two – when shooting a zombie with a high powered rifle as it looms over someone else, be aware that bullets are designed to go through things, and your associate won’t appreciate being saved from the zombie only to be perforated by the instrument of your attempted rescue.

Back in the helicopter, they discuss trying to find a place with more fuel and perhaps avoiding big cities. The Sensible One points out that they can’t go anywhere manned as they’ve basically stolen the copter and deserted – or at least he and Our Guardsman have. The Blonde Heroine earns back a few of her heroine points by ranting a bit about needing food and water – stat. She does not, however, manage to out-sensible the Sensible One.

They find themselves flying over a shopping mall which is surrounded by shambling hordes and decide to land.

I really want a screen cap of the Sensible One and Our Guardsman posing on the roof with all their weapons. It is intensely heroic.

At any rate, we are treated to various shots of the mall interior, complete with wandering, vacant-eyed zombies. Business as usual, in fact. If it weren’t for the green skin, it’d be hard to tell them zombies from normal shoppers – well, that and the fact that the stores are all closed and boarded up.

Zombie mall walkers shamblers, it’s the latest craze…

Bearded Bloke: This is all part of a clever, ironic commentary on the death of true social morality due to an over-emphasis on the importance of physical possessions due to rampant consumerism.

A plan is formed by the Sensible One and Our Guardsman while Skeevy Pilot Guy and the Blonde Heroine trot along behind. The mall still has power, and Skeevy Pilot Guy pontificates for the Blonde Heroine as to why there are zombies at the mall.

Zombies at the Mall – sounds like your average B-horror flick to me.

“This was an important place in their lives,” he tells her.

I think I’d rather be dead.

Our intrepid foursome find a way off the roof by breaking a skylight and dropping into a store room full of supplies stockpiled by Civilian Defense. There’s only one way in or out other than the skylight, and they promptly fortify the place.

While Skeevy Pilot Guy sleeps and the Blonde Heroine turns her pretty little nose up at the Spam thoughtfully provided by probably long dead Civilian Defense workers, Our Guardsman and the Sensible One trade a conversation so loaded with significant glances and double-talk that I found myself wondering if I’d wandered into a somewhat sexually ambiguous buddy cop movie. These two were born to be partners in somewhat questionable crime.

Anyway, they make a fast plan and go dashing off while the Blonde Heroine tells them they’re nuts. She’s not wrong. The Sensible One gives her a gun and some fast instructions and he and Our Guardsman go trotting off to do some extremely violent mall-crawling.

Everything’s looking good as Our Guardsman and the Sensible One find a mall security office and a huge set of keys as well as a pair of walkie-talkies and some convenient maps. Our Guardsman quietly switches on all the systems, giving us canned music in order to enjoy the full ‘mall experience’ as well as escalators to conveniently send the zombies up and down in a humorous fashion.

These guys definitely shamble, and the Sensible One and Our Guardsman nip through the hordes like a pair of slalom champions. They get into the large department store they’d wanted access to and lock the zombies out. Our Guardsman definitely enjoys the whole zombie-killing thing just a little bit too much for my peace of mind.

In the meantime, the Blonde Heroine loses patience with waiting and wakes Skeevy Pilot Guy. With typical supporting character idiocy, he decides to take the single remaining gun and go after our friendly neighbor psychopaths, who are currently cheerfully looting the large department store they’ve gained access to with much whooping and shouting and running around.

It’s to his credit that he’s the one to tell the Blonde Heroine that they can’t simply leave their companions to be eaten by zombies – not that there’s much danger of that. I’d be more worried about protecting the zombies from them.

This is one of the few zombie movies wherein I actually enjoy the main characters, instead of spending the entire movie counting the seconds until the more annoying ones get themselves eaten.

The zombies have slowly been shambling upstairs to the door our protagonists had originally gained access through, so our guys take the internal escalator downstairs and make much noise and trouble, attracting all the zombies downstairs again in order to clear the upstairs doorway so they can go racing back without any real difficulty.

Meanwhile, Skeevy Pilot Guy is wandering the back hallways and accesses in their wake and attracting the attention of various zombies quietly shambling in the dark. This is, understandably enough, not a good thing.

Skeevy Pilot Guy is still a lousy shot, and amidst bullet-wasting ricochets, the zombies shamble ever closer. There is much running about wildly in the dark and blasting at shadows amidst the darkness and the boilers. Just as he gets a bead on a zombie, he runs out of bullets for the pistol he stole from the security office. Much tension and further scrambling about in the dark follows before he makes it to the main mall and is assaulted by zombies before meeting up with the Sensible One.

Let it be noted here that my favorite zombie in the entire thing is the Hare Krishna who shambles around during most of the major zombie scenes, all wide-eyed, skinny and looking mostly harmless.

Skeevy Pilot Guy having been thus rescued and swept into the department store to take cover with his companions… a zombie repairman they’d missed manages to get the drop on Our Guardsman. There is a long, chilling struggle before Our Guardsman manages to grab a screwdriver from the zombie’s belt and drive it through his ear and into his brain.

Yay gore!

At any rate, a repeat of earlier tactics is in order, much noise on the ground floor to attract the zombies so they can run back upstairs and out the second floor exit. There is much whooping it up and carrying on.

Meanwhile, Our Heroine has lost patience with all men and is stalking around and, what’s this? The Hare Krishna zombie is poking around quietly and opening doors.

Skeevy Pilot Guy shows himself to be much more resourceful and much less skeevy as he produces the plans he stole from the security office and has been hauling around. There’s apparently a better way to sneak back upstairs so that the zombies don’t follow them ‘home’ so to speak.

We will pause for a shot of the Hare Krishna zombie fumbling about in the back hallways from whence our protagonists came. Might it be [gasp] too late to keep the zombies from finding their hideout?

[insert dramatic musical flourish here]

The guys discover a way up through the elevator shaft and engage in traditional, manly movie behavior to reach the air ducts.

Meanwhile, the Blonde Heroine discovers that the stairwell has a zombie in it, complete with attractive orange robes. I doubt he’s here to help her raise her consciousness, however. Plus, he’s pretty strong for a bald, skinny, glasses-wearing bloke with a tambourine.

She earns back all her heroine points a few extra by keeping her cool and managing to find some flares and light them (as Skeevy Pilot Guy took the only gun), fending off the Hare Krishna zombie until the guys arrive. They don’t shoot it, not wanting to attract more zombies, but club it to death and toss the body outside. She loses ten in the aftermath, however, for bursting into tears and clinging to Skeevy Pilot Guy as if he’s her last, best hope in the world.

We’re gonna rename Skeevy Pilot Guy to Fly Boy, as that’s what the Sensible One calls him, and he’s managed to shake the skeeviness like dust from his stylish fly boy boots.

The guys seem to have decided that they’re on safari and are having a grand old time being guys all together – and it comes out that the Blonde Heroine is carrying FlyBoy’s child. There is some minor drama over this, but as it has nothing to do with the zombies, we’ll ignore it.

We’re treated to a great deal of footage of zombies shambling to and fro and messing around in the mall to a voice-over of a television announcer in a cheesy black plastic eyepatch. It’s kind of fun to watch the zombies try to figure out why the various store mannequins don’t appear to be edible.

These zombies aren’t as smart as the ones in the original ‘Night of the Living Dead’ on the whole – our dear, departed Hare Krishna guy aside.

As the Blonde Heroine watches television and listens to the theories, the guys hatch a crackpot plan to seal the entrances to the mall with some nearby semi trucks and trailers. When they come back from the roof with their plan, she puts her pretty blonde foot down and demands equal treatment. Fly Boy registers an objection, but the Sensible One tells her that she’ll get equal consideration just as soon as she learns how to handle a gun and kick zombie ass properly. Till then, she has to sit tight.

She scores bonus heroine points for insisting that all four of them take flying lessons from Fly Boy so if anything happens to him, they can still escape. She then raises the bar for future zombie heroines by also getting a gun and stating that she will learn how to use it.

Full points.

Fly Boy plays spotter from the air while Our Guardsman and the Sensible One hotwire some of the trucks and put their plan into motion. There is much shambling action from the zombies while the boys play with the radios and continue to act like a pair of murderous little boys. The Blonde Heroine has taken her gun up to the roof to watch.

Our Guardsman is acting like a thrill-riding teenager as they drop off the first truck and he leaps into the Sensible One’s truck and they take off to pick up another one, but the zombies are closing in. As Our Guardsman works on the next truck, they attack. Fly Boy can see what’s happening, but can’t get Our Guardsman’s attention as his truck is surrounded.

The Sensible One rides to the rescue and there are many dramatics and a great deal of gore. Our Guardsman rocks. The Sensible One is beginning to lose patience with his somewhat morbid sense of humor and fondness for bloodshed, however.

The helicopter flies, the trucks rumble, the zombies shamble and, occasionally, go ‘squish’. In the midst of the insanity, Our Guardsman takes one risk too many and is bitten. Twice.

There’s no lesson like an object lesson, I suppose.

More guns and ammo are obtained by further sneaking about through the air shafts and breaking into a store that caters to hunting enthusiasts. They find all sorts of marvelous guns and things that go boom.

This next scene has to be one of my favorites.

As Our Guardsman was bitten rather savagely in the leg, he’s not terribly mobile. The Blonde Heroine, Fly Boy and the Sensible One have loaded themselves up for bear and pop Our Guardsman into the small pushcart they were using to move supplies stolen from the department store near the beginning. All four of them go racing through the mall and back into the department store… or rather the Blonde Heroine and Fly Boy do. The Sensible One pushes the cart while Our Guardsman shoots zombies.

The plan of the day is for the men to lock and weld closed the doors to the mall (now helpfully blockaded by trucks) and destroy all the zombies in the mall while the Blond Heroine guards their escape route. The decision is made to take one of the cars on display in the court and hotwire and drive through the ground floor, killing everything in their wake.

There is much violence and drama as this scheme is put into effect. Also, while Our Guardsman was crawling into the car he was again assaulted by a zombie and suffers further damage to his leg.

In the meantime, the Blonde Heroine is standing behind the heavy glass security doors of the department store, looking at a zombie nun.

Bearded Bloke: The emphasis on undead religious figures shows the emptiness of….

Me: Shut up. Please. Or I’ll make what the zombies would do to you seem merciful.

The car, which appears to be a Volkswagen Jetta, is successfully hot-wired and the men set out to secure their new home; Fly Boy making himself comfortable in the open hatch-back while the Sensible One rides shotgun. Literally. They drive madly through the corridors of the mall, shooting as they go.

Our Guardsman may be the actively insane one, but the Sensible One is creepy in an entirely calm and collected way that I find deeply disturbing. He’d be the one in a more conventional movie who’d shove one of the others off the sledge to slow down the wolves as they fled across the snow – and he’d be oh-so-very collected and rational about it, too.

Just because it’s the sensible option doesn’t mean it’s particularly palatable. Or, you know, human.

Eventually, the undead within the mall will shamble no longer. There is a long, sobering moment when everyone stops and stares at the bodies.

Myself, I would have been dancing around and singing with slightly inappropriate glee, but that may just be me.

Returning to their hidden lair, the Sensible One decides that, despite the fact that the zombies have all been dispatched (as far as they know), they need to board up that back stairway to make absolutely sure that no more Hare Krishnas come a’callin’, dead or otherwise.

Our Guardsman isn’t doing very well, to put it bluntly. Worse, he knows it. There is drama brewing.

Time passes, construction efforts go forward, morning sickness on the part of our Blond Heroine is exhibited, the decision to dispose of all the corpses lying around the mall for health reasons is discussed, etc.

I could have lived without the scenes of the storage of the dead bodies in one of the huge refrigerator units amongst all the foodstuffs, however. It was almost made up for by Fly Boy and the Sensible One cheerfully robbing the bank and mugging for the security cameras, however.

Bearded Bloke: The disintegrating relationships are highlighted as life and death are brought into sharp focus. The symbolism of a dying man against the travails of a pregnant woman are indicative of –

[appears, gently swinging an axe]

Bearded Bloke [hastily]: – something that really isn’t all that important right now.

Now that the mall is officially free of bodies, dead and undead, there is much cheerful shopping and shenanigans, even from Our Guardsman, who is now in somewhat horrendous plaid pajamas and a robe as they wheel him cheerfully through the various stores.

Bearded Bloke [muttering]: Rampant consumerism and self-indulgence in the face of a culture and society destroyed –

[Brief commercial break as the lights go out and various wet, squishing noises and disturbing thuds and crunches are heard.]

Moving on, we will pause to appreciate the Sensible One in his fur jacket with a rifle slung over his shoulder, talking about Voodoo beliefs and the infamous line, “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”

Despite medication and continued efforts, Our Guardsman is fading fast – also loudly.

Rule Three – if a zombie bites you? Amputate. Try not to get bitten in the neck, hmm?

We have a quiet, painful scene between Our Guardsman and the Sensible One. For once, the Sensible One is getting just a bit wrought up. It’s all very touching and more than slightly disturbing.

Some of the television stations are still broadcasting, and we are treated to a philosophical argument of sorts between yet another cynical interviewer and the man with the shiny black plastic eye patch. It’s a sign of how much things have deteriorated that they are swearing and drinking on air – not to mention discussing actually feeding the zombies.

To this amusing little background, we discover that Our Guardsman has died, and the Sensible One is drinking, watching the blanket-covered form with a pistol in one hand.

Interestingly enough, when the gunshot sounds, it is Fly Boy who appears most upset. The Blonde Heroine takes it more or less in stride… and they bury Our Guardsman in a small grotto next to one of the fountains.

Life goes on inside the mall, a shallow travesty of the happy lives they had before the dead began to walk, living out their days –

Okay, so the Bearded Bloke got to me.

While Fly Boy and the Blonde Heroine have a four star meal and Fly Boy actually proposes, the Sensible One goes out and drinks at Our Guardsman’s grave.

There is much interpersonal drama and angst. Again, there are no actual zombies involved, so we’ll skip right over that – although it’s interesting to note that as the Blonde Heroine’s pregnancy progresses, she’s still more often than not seen with a glass of wine in one hand and/or smoking.

And the dead are STILL coming to the mall.

It’s extremely surreal to watch their little store room apartment becoming more and more home-like (well, if your home were decorated solely with guns and 70s kitsch), with the added touch of multiple televisions that are always on but show nothing now but static.

Amidst the angst and drama, Fly Boy teaches the Blonde Heroine to fly (or at least how to take off and land) and they are observed by some unsavory characters with guns and binoculars.

Let me pause to point out that the creepy guy who pulls out his switchblade and then combs his mustache with it as it turns out to be one of those damn switch-combs, adds nothing to the movie.

Bearded Bloke [newly risen from the dead]: Aaaauuuuuuggghhhh.

Me: Yes, well, the underlying theme of these movies has always been that at least the zombies don’t eat each… other….

Excuse me for a moment.

[ A second brief commercial break as the lights go out and further wet, squishing noises and disturbing thuds and crunches are heard.]

It’s a lucky thing that our remaining trio kept the short-wave radio they found in the security office, as the unsavory characters outside decide to attempt to communicate and it is forcibly brought home to the audience that these are bad people.

The motorcycle gang overtones were a bit much, I felt.

The Sensible One and Fly Boy get set to defend themselves from the small army which is invading while the Blonde Heroine keeps her pregnant self quietly alert in their hidden apartment.

Violence, explosions, hand grenades… I’m extremely disappointed in the performance of the zombies during the initial invasion by the raiders. Motorcycle engines rev and people drive wildly through the mall.

The Sensible One points out almost cheerfully that they’ve neglected to close the doors behind them and a few thousand zombies will nicely take the heat off of our trio of survivors.

The mall slowly fills up with zombies and the new arrivals make a huge mess and wander around hitting zombies in the face with pies and playing with seltzer water. They rob, steal and vandalize at will until Fly Boy gets territorial and starts shooting because they’re messing up his mall.

The Sensible One is not amused.

There is further carnage and vandalism as well as escalating violence. Fly Boy eventually gets away from the invaders, but when the Sensible One makes a break for it, the intruders follow him. Fly Boy is shot and the zombies begin to get the upper hand over the intruders. Darwin at work, frankly.

The Sensible One goes to Fly Boy’s rescue, but not in time. Fly Boy gets eaten.

This is probably the only movie where you won’t find me waving my ‘Go Zombies’ pennant, although Fly Boy did more or less ask for it. I like these characters, and it makes me sad when the zombies pick one off.

The intruders have gone, but the mall is once again zombie-infested and our intrepid foursome is down to two.

While the zombies dine al fresco and shamble through the mall to a disturbingly cheerful tune on the mall’s piped in music, the Blonde Heroine encourages the Sensible One to leave. Zombie Fly Boy staggers around with a gun amongst the other undead and all in all it’s quite the party atmosphere, if you overlook the nature of the snacks.

Zombie Fly Boy has apparently retained at least some memories and shambles back to where the stairwell entrance used to be and starts clawing at the false wall they built. The Sensible One tells the Blonde Heroine to climb up to the roof and take off.

The Sensible One has decided to stay. It is uncertain as to whether he just doesn’t want to go on hiding in a set of storerooms while the undead take over the world or whether he just doesn’t want to leave Our Guardsman’s grave unattended. He’s a guy, they don’t tend to articulate these things.

At any rate, he sends the Blonde Heroine up to the roof and quietly retreats to the bedroom. The Blonde Heroine, showing true heroic colors at last, waits for him till the last possible moment, helicopter running ready to take off at a moment’s notice.

The Sensible One prepares to commit suicide but, as the zombies break in, apparently decides that he’s just not the suicidal type, punches a few out and makes a break for the roof where the Blonde Heroine (who has finally and completely lived up to her designation)is just taking off. He leaps inside and they’re off!

… of course, they’re still low on fuel and have no supplies…

But they fly off into the sunrise to a crescendo of cheerful music anyway, into a future full of shambling undead and the pressing need to find an OB/GYN who hasn’t ended up as the answer to one of his patient’s more interesting food cravings.

Roll credits over scenes from a mall full of zombies to the most perky, bubbly, irritating music I think I’ve ever heard in my life.

Apparently, the original screenplay had the two survivors committing gory suicide and I think I would have been somewhat irate had they stuck with that ending. ‘Night of the Living Dead’ had the ending where everyone died, and it was both unsettling and powerful. To end the sequel with two deaths would’ve been mildly depressing, but it would’ve lacked the emotional impact of the first movie.

Finding that your struggle and triumph would come to naught is one thing, but suicide when there’s a working helicopter right there is something else. Overall, I’m pleased that they went with a slightly cheerier ending.

The valuable moral lesson that I took away from all this? Hell is a mall full of zombies.

– Truth

About Popcorn Mice

Hi. We're the Urban Amazon and her sidekick, Truth. This blog is dedicated to recap and commentary of various movies in a hopefully humorous fashion. Said movies are mostly of the horror/action/adventure/science fiction and fantasy genres, as that's where our interests lie. Our efforts will, hopefully, amuse and entertain.
This entry was posted in 1978, Hot Serial, It's the Apocalpyse, and I Brought Zombies!, The Shambling Undead. Bookmark the permalink.

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