Dawn of the Dead [1978]

Instead of playing Ultimate last night, I ended up re-watching Dawn of the Dead – inspired no doubt by the chatter on NZRaG about Zombie LARPs. This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for my time when cutting a night, but I can’t think of it as a waste of time.

I’ve seen this movie before, more than once. In my mind it is the genre definition; much more so than Night of the Living Dead or Day of the Dead, which are both arguably better movies. And vastly vastly more important to me personally than the Return of the Living Dead series, though that has its merits too.

I was struck on this last watching that there is a greater sense of inevitability than I’d previously found. This time around, it seemed to me that none of the characters could escape their fate, that each had a kind of destiny pre-figured by their nature and their history.

In particular, the arrival of rival “looters” and “bad guys” in the form of the biker gang loomed over the whole first part of the film. Peter’s description and perception of himself and his comrades as being thieves, and his warnings of other humans was a doom-laden prophecy, ringing in my ears at each occasion.

I have many times said that in the Zombie apocalypse, what you need to worry about is not the Zombies. You need to worry about the other people. If the movies tell me anything, it’s that you must recognize the truth of the apocalypse early if you’re to survive, and then beyond that you need to watch the other survivors closely. The Zombies are just the mechanism that you either use to kill yourself, or other people use to kill you.

This is something that doesn’t always come through that strongly in the games of Zombie Cinema that I’ve played. Typically in those games the characters flail ineffectually at each other before the zombies lurch suddenly onto the scene.

The chatter on NZRaG and re-watching this movie has rekindled the desire to run a con scenario about Zombies – one focused on character. I’ve had this thought before and never gotten anywhere concrete.

Which also reminds me – I must get around to watching Diary of the Dead.

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One Response to Dawn of the Dead [1978]

  1. mundens says:

    The recent re-boot of The Day of the Triffids now showing on TV1 (i think) has exactly the same lesson. Once you’ve recognized the threat, it’s the other survivors that are the danger.

    In the case of Triffids at first the other survivors won’t recognize the threat and thus put the lead characters in danger. Then when they do, they try to use the triffids to dispose of the lead character.

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