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Dawn of the Dead (2004)
I know, I know; how can I name Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead as one of my preferred Halloween movies to watch on All Hallows’ Eve? How can I give George A. Romero the shaft like that? Maybe I deserve to have my Horror Fan Card revoked.
Rom-Zom purists won’t agree with me since there’s at least one major fault with the updated version, which is,are fast. I could go for fresh zombies being as fast as they were just before crossing over, and there would have to be a decline in speed as they rot, but zombies that run like The Flash makes no sense.
Dawn of the Dead isn’t scary per se, but it’s just simply cool as hell. Let’s start at the beginning. The opening scene prior to the credits, in which Ana (Sarah Polley) returns home from work to her loving boyfriend and wakes in the morning to the neighbor girl standing in the doorway to their bedroom was played out so well that it actually felt plausible, not to mention intense. As you know, boyfriend gets bit, quickly turns to, attacks Ana, Ana escapes boyfriend and house, gets outside to find a neighborhood in chaos, gets in car after fumbling with keys, speeds out of suburbia.
Next on the cool aspect of this Dawn of the Dead: Ving Rhames. ‘Nuff said.
Next? Well that would have to be zombie baby. That’s right, a zombie was born in this film, something that the ’78 film should have done.
Last but not least, the raging, charging fat lady is unforgettable.
Oh, yeah, the film also takes place in Wisconsin, home of serial killers and me.
Directed by Tobe Hooper and written/produced by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist might possibly be one of the best haunting films to date, and has recently been somewhat winked at by Insidious (2010). For me, Poltergeist isn’t just one of the best haunting movies in existence, but it’s also one of the scariest horror movies ever.
There are many allegations associated with Poltergeist, including: Spielberg violating his contract with Universal to be the de facto(he was forbidden to direct any other film while working on E.T.), the use of real skeletons, and, of course, the famous Poltergeist Curse, which claims six lives throughout the franchise’s history. In a bit of hypocrisy, the film oddly used real skeletons instead of fake ones while at the same time condemning urban development for “moving the headstones” and “leaving the bodies.”
Poltergeist has a distinctly Spielberg feel to it, from the makeup effects to the pace of the film, which allows the audience to become a member of the family and to be slowly introduced to the hauntings before they get amped up. This pacing is a convention that’s missing from modern horror, modern cinema for that matter, which is why watching Poltergeist is always refreshing and fun.
For example, the Freelings are a relatively young family moving into a new home. We get to see Carole Anne lose a fish and request a bird. We see the new neighborhood and the activities of the kids. We get to see mom and dad reminisce about their younger years while smoking pot. We get to see a remote control fight with the next door neighbor. We get to see chairs slide across the floor and get stacked at random. We get to see Mrs. Freeling experiment with Carole Anne and then show off the trick to Mr. Freeling when he comes home. We get to see face melts, what it’s like to swim with corpses, killer trees, closet ghosts, and oh so much more.
Poltergeist might not be so scary by today’s graphic standards and the FX, though still amazing to those who appreciate them and their style, are a bit dated, but this film is still among the best. It’s timeless quality and the way in which it includes the viewer, makes Poltergeist a perfect popcorn movie for theseason.
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