Archive for 28 Days Later

31- Dawn of the Dead(1978)

Posted in The 50 Apocalyptic films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2014 by Duane Patrick

dawn-of-the-dead-1978.jpg  “What are they doing? Why do they come here”

“Some kind of instinct. Memory of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives.”

George A. Romero’s seminal horror film Dawn of the Dead, a classic of the genre since its release in 1978, has been imitated countless times in the past three decades – from The Evil Dead and Re-Animator to Return of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later…. As Adam Rockoff writes for the DVD, “Immediately after Dawn‘s 1978 release, its bastard offspring began to claw their way through the fresh earth and onto screens all around the world.” However, most of these films ignored the subtext of racism, media cynicism, societal decay, and perhaps most importantly, the scathing attack on consumerism that were so integral to Romero’s vision.

It can be argued this is the best of the zombie classics, and for my this is the ultimate of the zombie apocalyptic genre, And yes a modern viewer may well look at this movie and see flaws, the zombie make up for one, but what we see here is a progression in the genre, here we see the survival instincts of a few, and every child at one point has fanatsised about being locked in a store over night and being allowed to run riot.

Dawn of the Dead begins where Romero’s Night of the Living Dead ended ten years earlier (albeit allowing for the advancements in technology, filmmaking techniques and societal progression in the ensuing decade). Romero is not content with rehashing the first films plot, like so many modern-day sequels, he expands on the concept and establishes a universe for not only his franchise, but for the many films that would come afterward. Zombies have continued to multiply and feed on the living, and while they may have not completely taken over, the stage is set for a final showdown between the living and the undead.

Again with this movie, like Night of the Living Dead, I have the problem that so much has been written on this movie how do I bring anything new. What we can do is celebrate the film and realise its place in the genre, if this film had not been made would we have the apocalyptic films, zombie films, or tv series like The Walking Dead today? Absolutely not. Dawn of the Dead is one of the key films in this whole genre, and should be celebrated.

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In the movie we follow two SWAT cops who team up with a fleeing news helicopter pilot and his pregnant girlfriend, together the four of them occupy a shopping mall which the proceed to make their home. Romero takes a far more tongue in cheek approach here than in Night of the Living Dead but it only adds to the social commentary and enjoyment factors. The action is upscaled here too, and on-screen we have a great duo in Ken Foree and Scott H.Reiniger , their fearless and enthusiastic attitude towards zombie killing infects the film with an irrepressible sense of fun. Again without this on-screen attitude to zombie killing would we have Zombieland with its kill of the week?

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The jackpot “dream” of being holed up in a shopping mall from the hungry zombie hordes is short-lived for Dawn‘s four protagonists. Peter and Stephen “hold up” the Shopping Mall’s bank of its money, now rendered meaningless. Later, a hapless ghoul is found sat in a wish fountain, struggling to make sense of the coins spilling from his cupped hands. The quartet start the film dressed and ready for action in combat gear but by the end, they’re smothered in opulent fur coats and chewing on expensive (pilfered) cigars… Roger, who gets chomped early on, is left a soppy faced half-breed zombie grinning at videogames and slurring “…I’m goooonna tryyyy … not to come baaaack” and sadly doesn’t. Most significantly, in the artificial trappings of a romantic meal between young lovers Stephen and Fran, Romero slams the door on any notion of reality within the walls of the mall when Stephen’s half-hearted proposal of marriage is rebutted…

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 Romero’s consumerism metaphor in this movie, the mindless zombies wandering in a shopping mall, is probably even more relevant today than it was in 1978, a fact captured by that the mall it was filmed in was one of the worlds largest at the time, but looking at it now, it is no bigger than your average mall. . Consider that our current times are characterized by terrorism, wars, financial scandals, and economic and political turmoil. Romero’s apocalyptic vision looks more like prophecy than fiction.

Look past the zombie make up, and the strangely orange blood of this movie, and you will see one of the most important films of the apocalyptic genre, and a seminal film on this list, this was definitely the Dawn of the Dead.

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33 – 28 Days Later

Posted in The 50 Apocalyptic films with tags , , , , , , on December 2, 2013 by Duane Patrick

28-days-laterHave you got any plans, Jim?

Do you want us to find a cure and save the world or just fall in love and fuck?

Plans are pointless. Staying alive’s as good as it gets.

Before 2002, the ‘zombie film’ had reached the self deprecating joke stage, the flesh-eating monster that Romero had given us, had now become a mumbling slow-moving joke figure looking to digest ‘brains’. Director Danny Boyle, and screenwriter Alex Garland here not only reinvigorated the zombie movie, but also the actual monster, with the now running jumping sprinting zombie hordes that would crash through windows, with the infection Rage.

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28 Days Later is not just a typical horror film, in fact if you look closer it is not a horror movie at all, we have two very clear messages in this film, how fragile even 21st century civilization is and how our society looks at women in this modern age.

Similarly to The Omega Man, 28 Days Later relies on a powerful use of mise-en-scène to convey feelings of isolation, abandonment, and despair to the audience.  Framing and composition have an enormous impact on the way the characters in 28 Days Later are viewed. In a recurrent succession of tight and loosely framed shots, characters are placed into positions of insignificance and vulnerability, completely at the mercy of their surroundings. This is clearly evident in the second scene of the film. Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens in a hospital to find nothing but empty halls and rooms, completely devoid of all forms of life. In a high-angle shot, we perceive Jim as helpless and exposed, wired with tubes and apparatuses. A close-up of Jim’s face reveals his perplexity and malnourished.  Upon exiting the hospital, a series of bird’s eye and long shots envision a desolated London, all the while portraying Jim alone in a desolated city.

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One of the most provocative shots in the film was the last shot of the second scene. The camera starts at eye level, overlooking a gigantic board of missing people flyers. It then quickly zooms in toward one specific missing child, invoking a sense of uneasiness and grief within the viewer. This shot directly played on the mind of the viewer, bringing back those same images we had seen so recently before in New York after the World Trade Center attack.

After we have now seen the new improved ‘zombies can run now’, the film quickly moves on to depict humans as always, are the actual evil in the film, especially in apocalyptic movies. Many of these films will include an obligatory scene in which a female character (sometimes the heroine, but it rarely matters) is nearly raped by one out-of-control male in order to be saved by another, thus exhibiting the moral and physical superiority of our hero and savior over all the other men around him.

Christopher Eccelston’s Major Henry West appears to be the leader of the last outpost of civilised humanity in Britain, having sent out a radio message encouraging survivors to join him and his men in the safety of their northern retreat. When Hannah, Selena, and Jim arrive, they are initially welcomed, but the Major quickly informs them of the real reason for the radio signal.

“Eight days ago, I found Jones with his gun in his mouth. He said he was going to kill himself because there was no future. What could I say to him? We fight off the infected or we wait until they starve to death… and then what? What do nine men do except wait to die themselves? I moved us from the blockade, and I set the radio broadcasting, and I promised them women. Because women mean a future.”

Monstrous is the only way to describe the behavior of West’s men. They separate Jim from Selene and adolescent Hannah, making it clear they have no problems sexually assaulting both of the females. They taunt them and even make their victims dress up in preparation for their rapes.

Yes, the women escape their attackers, and yes, Jim saves the day.

But consider for a moment. The Major who has orchestrated the entire thing, this panderer of rapists, isn’t just any man. He is the last representative of the government. He is a highly trained professional soldier who has sworn to protect the people of Britain. He is order in the face of chaos. And because his men want sex, he deprives the only women he believes are left alive of their right to say no. He reduces them to the role of toys.

He doesn’t even order his men to spare young Hannah (Megan Burns was about 14 when the movie was filmed). In fact, he does nothing to rein in his men, regardless of the outright brutality they seem to be looking forward to inflicting on the women.
What we have here is a film that discusses the way our society hangs on a knife  edge, held together on threads, but not only that how as a society we view women, What Boyle points out, is that however far we think we’ve come as a society in relation to women’s rights, we are still too frighteningly close to having made no progress whatsoever. If men want sex, women will be made to provide it. It’s not a particularly well hidden message in the film. This is the real horror of the film

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28 Days Later, was a box office success, it had a budget of £5 million, and made £6.1 million in the UK, before being a surprise hit in the United States, taking in $45 million with a limited screen release, it has a legacy that we still see today, it reinvented the zombie genre, and we got films like the Dawn of the Dead remake, Shaun of the Dead, and the opening of the TV series The Walking Dead definitely tips its sheriff’s hat to 28 days later. 28 Days later is a genre defining important film that deserves a place on this list. If you have never seen it, go watch it, its worth a second watch to look past the zombie movie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jck5mb9lt54

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