Dawn of the Dead (review by Butch Miller)

Dawn of the Dead is one of the sacred cows in modern horror fandom, right up there with other Romero movies (Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, um, the Dead Zone, A Day in the Life, and some other things with times and death in the title), Psycho, the first two Halloween movies, and Tango and Cash. Well, less so Tango and Cash than the others, but I don’t see why — Stallone and Russell in the same movie should send a chill down even Robert Englund’s spine. Anyhow, since everyone is screwing with Psycho and Halloween and every other thing that a horror fan like myself maintains as a social institution, I figured I could give my honest opinion about Dawn of the Dead. And if you don’t help me, Crom, then to hell with you!
To put it briefly, the movie is about Hell being full and all the dead people come back to life, or can’t go to Hell when they die. Or something — read the back of the box if you don’t know, I mean, for crying out loud, this IS a classic. I wouldn’t sit here and give you a blow-by-blow of Hamlet or Wuthering Heights, now would I? No.
When I was about 15 or so, this movie was it. This, the Wall, and Lord of the Rings were the weekend midnight matinees where all the cool people hung out and partied. And back then, it was the ultimate of killer flicks.
Well, that’s been a while. I’d rather not say how long, you can do the math. And in those intervening years, much has changed. Music trends, hair styles, lingo, clothing. And those changes have hit this movie the same way ludicrously old age hit Bob Hope — hard enough to disfigure, but not hard enough to totally take him out. Not yet. (I’m hoping he hasn’t kicked off while I write this …)
Dated. That’s Dawn of the Dead in one word. Horribly dated, like a Horshak lunch-box or a pair of platform shoes. The idea is cool, still. The fighting is … well, fighting is fighting. This was 70’s fighting. The problem comes in the music, hair styles, lingo, and clothing.
But, personally, I think the hair styles, lingo and clothing are acceptable. The biggest problem is far and away the music. This sounds like the inspiration for the music at the end of an episode of the A-Team, where bullets are flying without hurting anyone and things are blowing up and Mr. T is freaking because they have to get in a chopper to escape. And it’s just too damn happy sounding. Horns in a major key always make me feel that way, but when you’re kicking zombie ass, the music shouldn’t make the audience feel like you can’t possibly lose.
Anyway. That’s all I have to say about it. It’s still a great flick, a classic which opened a lot of doors and kept a good thing going, and it still is kinda cool in spite of the horrid lingo and all. I give this jive turkey 3 1/2 yaks, you honkey.