Lists are great. They inspire discussion, create arguments, and tend to spiral off into fun new lists. When you do a list about the “BEST” of anything it goes from being fun to becoming a hotbed for arguments. There’s no such thing as a definitive list but I’ve decided to pull from my rather extensive life of film watching and put it to good use.
This is not the “film critic’s top 100” list. There’s no guarantee Citizen Kane or The Bicycle Thief will be in the top echelon or even on the list. This is the 100 movies I would put my name on as my top 100. If I died tomorrow this would represent the 100 films I find most vital, special, or ones that bonded to whatever it is that makes me me. I’m not including documentaries, though that might make for a nice supplemental list.
The first 80 will be in no particular order. The last 20 will be in very particular order. One a day, you have my word.
#56 – Dawn of the Dead
Why is it here:
This movie is the gift that keeps on giving.
It can be watched as a phenomenal and powerful horror movie, the best zombie film ever made and one of the transitional films as the 70’s horror gave way to the excesses of the 80’s. It can be viewed as a cautionary tale and mirror held to society. It can be viewed as a wacked out head trip, thanks in no small part to the many things George A. Romero delivered in the way of ultraviolence and darkly comic imagery. There’s a cynicism and bleakness here that gives the film a coating of viscosity that allows the more extreme moments to have that documentary-esque numbness to it but also allow the viewer to digest everything in a way that allows the film to entertain first and then inspire thought long after the running time has passed.
It’s a classic on every level and though the quite good remake has more style it lacks the meat and forethought of the original, but it’s nice to see both having deserving lives.
But this is the real shit. A must own and I dare you not to go to the mall and not see parallels galore even today.
Moments to savor:
Bikers vs. Zombies. Helicopter decap. Goblin and Dario Argento adding playfulness to the arcane through music. That exploding head. Ken Foree becomes a leading man.
High, especially compared and contrasted with the remake. And because it becomes more and more prescient as time goes on.
Me and a friend dubbed over this movie countless times in the early 90’s, making up dialogue for the zombies and all sorts of strange running jokes and it became a thing among our circle of friends at the time. Unfortunately the quality of those VHS tapes is obliterated and so much of the vulgar and offensive material is impossible to share. But it made this movie almost mythic for us.