Saturday, September 24, 2011

Living Dead, Person of Interest

I finally got to Donald's Living Dead recommendations, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead, and I can honestly say I enjoyed them all, a lot. Since the review I did last year clearly was not up to standard (according to a few people) I suppose I need to get a little nerdier with this one. Although I am glad I found that business about people (in the original) not communicating with each other; it's important.

Night of the Living Dead, 1968. Directed by George A. Romero

"A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse." (IMDB).

Since I have seen this before I was able to focus on things other than the actual events this time around, and in terms of production (1968) there were a lot of things I liked. I liked how it all felt like a creepy Twilight Zone, not just the black and white but the script, the actor's deliveries, and the music, too. It's one of those films that obviously is not terribly realistic by today's standards, but is successful nonetheless because it deals with bigger issues than just being stalked by zombies (although the zombie story also does fine on its own). What happens when scared human beings need to work together to solve a problem? Well, bad things, as it turns out. One is hysterical and later catatonic, one is level-headed, and another is just generally disagreeable. They form a plan, try to execute it, and are thwarted by bad luck. If this is how humanity performs in the face of a struggle, we don't need zombies to do us in, we'll doom ourselves.

Dawn of the Dead, 1978. Directed by George A. Romero.

"Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia SWAT team members, a traffic reporter, and his television-executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall." (IMDB).

So I hate to like a film only for its aesthetics, but I have to admit, pretty much anything could have happened during this and I would have liked it simply because it took place at a mall and had 70s hair. And there are other good things beside those, too of course, music, their clever little trick of altering the stairwell and walls in order to trick the zombies, car scooting around inside the mall, pitching dead zombie over the railing into the pond, etc. Let's not forget the little shopping sequence, either (did this influence Amy Heckerling in European Vacation when the Griswolds go on a shopping spree for new Italian fashions? It seemed very similar.) The makeup was obviously a little more sophisticated and the gore effects a bit more realistic, but it was more light-hearted than the original and I enjoyed that. I kind of think that this one is my favorite.

Day of the Dead, 1985. Directed by George A. Romero.

"A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies." (IMDB).

Wow. And this one was not at all what I was expecting. Extremely funny (and extremely hostile). Captain Rhodes? Um, just a second, psycho. What a freak! Joseph Pilato, incidentally was Dean Martin in Pulp Fiction, and I'm sure the brilliant QT, while casting for the lineup inside Jack Rabbit Slim's and having most assuredly seen this film, thought to himself, LET'S DO IT WITH CAPTAIN RHODES AS DEAN MARTIN!

The special effects in this one were actually really amazing. The brain and spine (ABSENT A SKULL) still connected to torso and limbs? Hands down my favorite thing in a horror movie, ever. I really dug the music, so stereotypically 80s synth, almost love-themey. And the whole concept of studying the zombies was a nice change. Why are they doing this? Can they be controlled? Nice work.


So this might not be the most thorough or official of reviews here, but I have to say, what I saw Thursday night was really, really excellent. I missed the first nineteen minutes as our DVR just suddenly stopped working, but regardless, once I started, the proverbial skirt was blown up. Damn.

The plot was all right, kind of felt like 24 (with The Passion's Jesus, Jim Caviezel as the new Bauer) and Michael Emerson as Ben Linus hunting bad guys, and all that is fine. But you want to know what sold me? There's a scene of a little standoff going on in the bottom floor of an apartment complex right near the elevator; one bad guy has an innocent hostage, Caviezel (who I'm just going to call THE JESUS) has his own bad guy hostage and they're both standing there with their hostages, waiting for the real target to come out of the elevator. The target has his young son with him, btw. Suspense builds as the two men with guns wait for the elevator to come down, there's a dial display at the top with numbers, one that looks strikingly like the same one used in "The After Hours" episode of The Twilight Zone (Marsha the Mannequin) which you know goddamned well JJ Abrams has seen, probably many times. During all this suspense the soundtrack is very similar to the one used in Snatch when Mickey (Brad Pitt) discovers his mother's trailer on fire or the Massive Attack song in GO, I don't know which but it's a very dark and effective accompaniment to what's happening in the scene. I'm kind of wishing now he would have used it in LOST during one of John Locke's bad ass scenes, but you know, can't have everything. The photography of shots was really excellent, too, extremely cinematic.

After reviewing the trailer below, I've decided
1. I am really quite excited for more of this show.
2. I didn't see any of the scenes with THE JESUS in his Grizzly Bear Jenkins hair and beard but seeing it just now leads me to believe that he is equal parts Jack Shephard and John Locke, so obviously my new BFF.

Check it out!

oh, and
3. Did you see that ski mask bit? Nobody fucks with THE JESUS.


Justin Garrett Blum said...

Always nice to see Jim Caviezel working. I can't recall ever seeing him in anything after Passion of the Christ, but I loved him in Count of Monte Cristo.

Hate on me if you will, but I enjoyed the Dawn of the Dead remake more than the original film. As to Day of the, I seem to recall watching that as a kid, and thinking it was pretty funny. I'm not sure I realized until much later that it was a bona fide sequel to Night of the Living Dead. Just thought it was some other zombie movie, since tonally it's so vastly different.

Anna said...

I haven't seen Count of Monte Cristo, maybe I should!
I would actually love to see the remake myself, of Dawn of the Dead. Donald will probably be the one doing the hating if anyone is . . .

was there someone famous in the remake?

Justin Garrett Blum said...

Well, I probably loved The Count of Monte Cristo more than most people.

Nobody too famous. Ving Rhames. That's about it.