harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Dawn of the Dead (70s), Part II

Scene 16: In the coptor, Peter and Fran get acquainted and we find out that Fran and Stephen aren't just friends but they're a couple, too ("most of the time").

After sunrise, Stephen has fallen asleep at the controls until Peter jars him awake. Below them, they're flying over fields and forests and Roger realizes that the undead plague is everywhere. On the ground, army vehicles and "red necks" have gathered into zombie hunting parties. Those gathered are drinking beer and swapping tales and basically acting like the whole thing is a block party with bullets clearly not understanding that despite the zombies' slow gait and awkward manner (making them very easy targets, we'll have to admit) that this is really the end.

Commentary: And this scene provides a nice place to sequeway into how this movie relates to its predecessor. There seems to be a general feeling that the movie is a direct sequel to "Night..." but that has never really worked for me. I'd say ... given the amount of time between movies and the change of styles between then and now, that a direct sequel (timeline wise) just doesn't really work. This is more of a remake or as said nowadays 'a re-imagining' of "Night..." with a different 'message'. Where 'Night...' was about the social breakdowns occurring during the Civil Rights era and the inability of people to work together instead of attacking one another (a message carried over into the opening of this film, but now moving into the new message), this one is more concerned with consumerism and the environmental movement of the 70's. It is zombies as us as the ultimate consuming plague.

Scene 17: We leave the foursome to join the men on the ground (I do find this diversion completely unnecessary and again, it could have been replaced with more of our heroes confronting the undead or with angst over those they've left behind who are probably either dead or zombies, themselves. I appreciate the strong echo from Night of the Living Dead - but it just wasn't necessary).

Scene 18: Returning to our core-four, they've had to land at a small field airport in order to gas up the coptor. There is an ominous shot of a pair of handprints on a old windshield and a definite sense of abandonment.

Abandoned, except for the 'Franken-Zombie'....

Commentary: Oh, Franken-Zombie - we must speak of you for a moment. Remember at the very beginning of the review I said that some of the effects could hold up to anything today, but that the zombies tended to be simple greasepaint? Well, here is a zombie with a bit more - but I wish he wasn't. I can understand the effect they thought would be cool, and it might have been if they'd kept this guy largely offscreen - but they didn't....

Anyone see a problem with this guy's forehead? Yeah. A bit too obvious, isn't it. And it's all to set up a gag coming up in a moment - which isn't as cool as they thought, but would have been fine if only we didn't see so much of the fake head appliance, here.

Anyway - as Roger fills up the gas tank on the coptor, Stephen runs off to check the hangers for anything that will be useful as supplies. Peter does the same for the control office. Frankenforehead in the meanwhile is attracted by the sounds of the helicoptor landing and is wandering in Roger's general direction. Fran follows Stephen.

In the control office, Peter hears the sounds of rustling and voices behind another door and takes a defensive position. He fires a bullet through the door, which is heard by Stephen and Fran. They gather up a heavy hammer and head toward Peter. In the meanwhile, because the coptor hasn't been completely shut down - Roger doesn't hear anything - including the zombie rustling through the grass in his direction.

Stephen runs directly into the arms of a wandering zombie and begins to struggle for the heavy hammer. Fran stops in terror at the sudden life and death struggle (remember, this is the first encounter for either one of them with an actual zombie). She stands frozen as another zombie shuffles behind her!

He manages to grab his hammer and beat the brains in of the zombie attacker. They run.

In the meanwhile, Peter fires a few more bullets through the door. Frankenforehead continues his march toward the unsuspecting Roger as he's turned in the opposite direction.

Stephen sees Roger's danger and tries to warn him, but his shouts aren't heard over the coptor blades. He leaves Fran to dash for Roger's position.

In the meantime, the zombie crawls up onto a stack of crates, knocking one to the ground and finally drawing Roger's attention. It gives out a pitiful moan of need, but then stands up straight - right into the helicopter blade.

In the control office, Peter is taken by surprise when the door bursts open and two zombie-kids attack him (having been completely missed by the bullets he fired blindly through the door)....

One little shit manages to bite him, but thankfully, it doesn't tear through his swat uniform. He tosses the kids onto the office couch and opens fire on them.

In the meanwhile, there are more zombies coming out of the fields around the airstrip, drawn by the racket. Stephen wastes bullets trying to take one down, but it takes Roger to line up a head shot and he takes it down with a single squeeze of the trigger (in another nice 'blood flying from back of head' shot).

In the office, Peter is trying to deal with what he's just done (in commentary George says that actor Ken Foree really did have trouble pointing a gun at the kids), not noting until it's nearly too late for him that ANOTHER zombie has wandered in (this would be the zombie that is featured in all of the marketing materials, including the DVD cover). He sees over the zombie's shoulder that 'Flyboy' is lining up a shot and can barely dive out of the way before Stephen shoots him in his attempts to bring down the zombie. Stephen is a crap-shot. Once again, though, Roger is there to take it down with one bullet.

Stephen is seeing to Fran, who's upset and crying when Peter marches up to him, points his gun in his face as Fran pleads with him to stop...

"You never aim a gun at anyone, Mister! Scary... isn't it?"

Peter holds the moment just long enough for Stephen to crap his pants a little, before lowering his weapon, "Isn't it?" he emphasizes.

Commentary: One thing I want to mention at this point is the uneven tone of the movie between scary and nearly slapstick humor. I had always wished that there would be less 'funny bits' in "Dawn...." because much of the movie could really have used a bit more of an edge (and remember, I DO love this movie). The cigarette-seeking cop, the red neck shooting gallery, the Frankenforehead...  these things just managed to distract from the emotional horror we should feel at seeing our core-four put in danger. Now, however? Ever since buying and watching "Day of the Dead" several times, I can suddenly appreciate the lighter tone of this film. I also think that the effort to keep things from getting too dark helps us stay connected with our characters, because they remain so likable throughout and never devolve into a grim, cold unit - these are the folks that I'd want to try to ride out a global disaster with - whereas by the time of "Day...", we've lost any sense of gallows humor and those folks would be torturous to be stuck with.

Scene 19: Back aboard the chopper now, Flyboy is again struggling to stay awake. It is sometime in the middle of the night. They discuss their options with Roger telling them that they have to avoid the major cities or they may never get out again. Roger points out that it wasn't the zombies that nearly did him in - pointedly looking in Stephen's direction. Stephen's concern is that the coptor is running low on fuel again, meaning they're going to have to set down soon, and it needs to be where their sure to find aviator fuel.

The cramped quarters are getting to the lot of them as they all seem to be a bit on edge with one another - especially Stephen and Peter. Roger insists they have to stay to the sticks and also shoots down Stephen's idea of hitting some of the little airports along the river because they may still be manned. Stephen tells him if they are, they're probably just fellow scavengers, but Peter tells him that they can't afford to get caught with the chopper because it belongs to the news station and they're a long way from where 'traffic reports' would be a reason for them to have it.

It's Fran's turn to gripe over their less than well-planned escape: they don't have food, they don't have water, they don't know where to land and the radio is out in the chopper so they can't call anyone for assistance. She's also worried about Stephen because he keeps nodding off and he's the only one who knows how to fly.

Morning comes with a musical sting as the chopper flys over a shopping mall. In the lost below, zombies are slowly shuffling.

Commentary: This scene is hilarious these days because Stephen asks (about the mall), "What the hell is it?"

Yes, kids - once upon a time, the Mall was an entirely new concept and there were people who weren't used to seeing these sprawling complexes.

Stephen brings the chopper down for a landing on the mall roof so they can get some rest and look for supplies.

Scene 20: From the roof, Peter scans the lot below to see a growing number of zombies heading in the complex's direction. Stephen and Fran are worried about the growing army of dead out there, but Roger points out they can't get up to the roof.

Peter and Roger discuss the situation - although there are undead wandering within (Other people who seeked shelter where there was food?), most of the store gates are down so they shouldn't be in the store propers - Roger agrees with Peter they should check it out and see if they can find an entrance into one of the second story stores from the roof.

This is where we get the oft-repeated lines about the mall being an important place in people's lives (consumerism!) when Fran asks Stephen why he thinks they're coming there.

In the meanwhile, Peter and Roger are looking through all of the skylights. Roger sees an empty room that has been piled with Civil Defense rations - giving credence that this had probably been one of the evacuation centers. In addition, Peter points out they still have power in the mall.

They break into the room and lower themselves through a skylight. In the boxes are tins of Spam.

The room and the supplies are in a back portion of the mall and allows the foursome to eat and for Stephen to get some badly needed sleep.

As the other three sit around pretty bored, Peter mentions how much stuff is downstairs that they could really put to use. Roger smiles and agrees. They decide that the zombies in the main mall are spread out enough that they should be able to perform 'hit and run' on the stores - an idea that Fran can't believe they're suggesting. They blow off her concern.

Peter gives Fran a rifle and warns her that the trigger squeezes easily and that it'll kick so she needs to be ready for that....

Scene 21: Roger and Peter head down the stairwell and into a long, dark hallway (obviously the employee's only section of the mall). Going through a doorway at the end of the hall leads them into the electical and water systems of the shopping complex. In an office, they find keys to the stores and walkie-talkies that will come in handy. Roger turns on all of the power into the mall proper, including the overhead muszak to hide their noise and the water fountains.

Commentary: This part is another 'comedy' thing as we see the undead bungling around as escalators start up and so on. This is why a lot of people just aren't afraid of a zombie apocalypse, because scenes like this just make it seem like the living-dead are clownish, slow, stupid, and clumsy. I can't decide if this was deliberate - in order to put the audience in the frame of mind that there isn't any serious threat to the characters - or if it was done deliberately to give our characters an excuse to start being complacent and less careful later. Or, if it's just supposed to be a tension breaker - any or all of these, I'd rather that the zombies not be turned into the comedy relief characters like we'll see here and again later when a motorcycle gang attacks. I suspect that it was to both make the audience and the characters forget that they really are in danger if they don't watch what they're doing - despite the zombies' inherent liabilities as monsters.

I might as well mention here, too, so I don't have to later that one of the problems with "Dawn of the Dead" involves the budget for extras. On DVD, it is far more apparent, but I have to think that even at the theatre, the audience may have noticed the same zombies appearing over and over: guy in sweater vest, nurse, nun, fat guy with no shirt... that is because the zombies were filled by volunteers who could show up as needed to fill out the ranks. One of the problems is that it plays havoc with continuity - you'll notice if you re-watch the movie the way I have over and over that the same zombies pop up outside, then inside, then they're also outside again... you'll just have to overlook it, or wonder if this particular area has on abundance of twins, triplets and quadruplets clustered....

Scene 22: In the hideaway office, Fran awakens and complains to Stephen about what the guys are up to (I'm complaining too, but only because the mall music is terribly annoying). In the mall proper, Roger and Peter make their dash toward one of the general stores - kicking lots of zombie ass on their way through (which just further damages - or further cleverly misdirects the audience - about the actual threat the zombies represent).

Stephen admires their guts and grabs the rifle from Fran (to her annoyance) and rushes to help them out which isn't the reaction she was looking for.

In the mall, there is some angst and Peter fumbles with the keys and then the door for the shop they're trying to enter as the zombie army closes in. They finally get in, but one of the zombies gets stuck in the door. Roger yanks him in, losing one of the rifles in the process.

Meanwhile, Stephen and Fran hear the gunshots and Fran strenously objects to Stephen going "out there". Stephen refuses Fran's pleading that they go up to the roof - telling her he won't leave the other guys "down there".

Commentary: A lot of Stephen's need to 'help' the other guys, I get the impression, is his need to 'stack up' to them. From the earlier scenes with the shooting at zombies, I have the impression that Stephen admires Roger (and by extension Peter) for their 'macho-ness' that comes with being SWAT. He spends a lot of the movie trying to do what they do and not quite being good at it.

Scene 23: Peter and Roger, having gotten the store door closed to the zombies in the mall proper, are riding high on adrenaline. They joke and laugh about 'going shopping'.

Commentary: Notice too during this short sequence, that we're actually getting some foreshadowing... Roger immediately wastes time looking at men's clothes. Peter on the other hand is thinking about what they need, including a radio or tv to get news about what is happening out in the world. Roger will takes things less and less seriously - especially the zombies themselves - while Peter, even when he's joking around, never forgets the circumstances they're in....

Scene 24: While the two SWAT members are gathering useful supplies - Stephen has made it into the operations room they had passed through, trying to retrace their steps.

Peter and Roger are in a two story store (these used to be common among the 'anchor' stores before times got leaner - usually Sears, or JP Penny's would be two story stores). They use a wheelbarrel Peter found to wheel their purloined goods to the door they entered (where the zombies are still clawing at the glass door) and then return to the first floor. Banging on that door and hooping and hollering draws the attention of the zombies upstairs, thinning out the crowd they'll have to wheel through to get the goods back to the tucked away stairwell and the room where Fran is now waiting.

Stephen has made it to the operations office where he stops to check things out. He finds a pistol in a desk and the book of schematics to the whole mall they may be useful. What he doesn't notice, and we do if we're looking - is that in the
background out of the office window is somebody shuffling in the shadows.

Roger, in the meanwhile, is on the second floor keeping an eye out for when it's relatively clear of undead activity, while on the first floor, Peter acts as 'bait' to keep the zombies gather there interested in getting in and waiting for Roger to walkie-talkie that it's clear.

In the electrical/plumbing section, Stephen is walking toward the main mall, unknowingly being stalked by a security-guard zombie.

Scene 25: Stephen finally sees that he isn't alone and putting down his rifle and schematic book, he draws the pistol and goes after the zombie-guard. But in the dark, maze like machinery, he quickly loses sight of where the flesh eater is at. Worse, he starts firing at every shadow and noise, sending bullets ricocheting off of the pipes and conduits, threatening to end up shooting himself on accident.

In the (according to Stephen's schematic) JC Penney's (told ya!) Roger and Peter hear the gunshots from Stephen and immediately worry that "flyboy" has gotten himself into danger, which he has.

Stephen finally wanders into a position to get a point blank shot at the security-zombie, but of course, he's run out of bullets because of all of his wild firing. He gets an "oh, shit" look on his face and quickly back pedals....

In the mall proper, Peter and Roger have to move things along a little faster than they anticipated so they can get the wheelbarrel in position to get upstairs and then return to the mall and try to pinpoint where Stephen's gunshots are coming from before he ends up zombied.

Stephen meanwhile is in a panic trying to figure out where the zombie is located, but with all of the machines and pipes and panels and gauges, he's lost track of him again. He finally stops beside a panel and starts reloading the pistol from the office (why there was a pistol in the control office is anyone's guess). Security-zombie naturally lunges from around the panel and grabs at him - causing him to drop the box of bullets.

He falls to the ground, cornered against some piping - and starts firing blank chambers at the zombie in sheer desperation....

Luckily for him, he was able to get one round into the pistol before he was attacked and it manages to be a head shot, saving his ass.

Scene 26: Peter runs through the second floor hallway with his wheelbarrel of booty, but as he comes to the hallway that leads to the door that will lead to the hallway that will lead to the stairwell that will lead up to the storage room (I mention all of this for a very specific reason coming up) a zombie grabs him from around the corner and immediately goes into to bite him in the throat (where the hell is Roger?).

In the meantime, Stephen, who hasn't run into any more difficulty finds the door leading out into the hallway that leads to the second floor of the mall - when he opens the door, two zombies grab at him!

Stephen wrestles with the two undead, as a third shuffles up - boxing him into the dead end of the hallway. He looks for Roger and Peter - but Peter has his own problem.

He lines up a shot with his rifle, but Peter doesn't need the help - as he scoops up his zombie foe and throws him over the balcony (ouch - dummy shot!). In the meantime, Stephen uses the stock of the rifle to butt one of his attackers away and goes for the door that he had come through, but Peter shouts at him to run his way instead. If he goes down the hallway beyond, he'll lead them after him to the storage room (well, you know, if they manage to keep up with him through the maze of industrial pipes...).

Stephen makes a run for it toward Peter and makes it - they both run toward the stores, leading the zombies out of the hallway - except for one... the famous Hari-Krishna zombie. He, for no apparent reason, decides to head down through the door and down the hallway beyond, retracing (at random apparently) the exact path toward the hidden storage room so it can menace the now unarmed Fran.

Scene 27: Back in the store - hi, Roger - our three guys decide to pull the same trick... lead the zombies back down to the first floor, so that the second floor will be relatively clear. Then they can slip through that doorway and back to the storage room with the zombies none the wiser and with no reason (except random chance, one supposes) for them to follow.

As they're running through the store, a zombie who was there unseen has wandered into their path however - he lunges out at Roger and tackles him to the floor....

Commentary: This is an exceptionally clumsy scene that gives the impression the zombie was doing a mannikan impression until Roger just so happens to run by (ignoring Stephen and Peter who was ahead of him). Director Romero is aware of this and explains on his commentary track that the reason is that in a few minutes, Roger loses his tool belt between scenes from different days of shooting. George had to film and insert this scene to cover that continuity error.

Anyway, Peter tries to line up a shot of the zombie's head while Roger wrestles with it, trying not to get bitten. The zombie was a maintenance man, and Roger is able to snatch a screwdriver from his belt and jam it into his ear and through the brain, saving himself from a very close call.

Drawing the zombies back to the first floor entrance to the JC Penny's gives Stephen a chance to feel inclusion with his SWAT companions and they share a laugh at the undead.

Scene 28: In the meantime, it has been quite awhile since the gunshots, so Fran is naturally being driven frantic with worry over what is or has happened. We see the Hare Krishna zombie has made it to the darkened, bare hallway.

Scene 29: In the store, Peter complains that they may not be able to clear enough of the undead from the second floor quietly or quickly enough to get to the door they need without being followed and leading them all right to them where they've hidden out. Roger is getting antsy and wants to get their stuff loaded and get out of there - but Peter broaches the idea of not being in such a hurry to leave at all. He points out that they have all of the supplies they need if they stay where they are. He also points out that if they can get to the storage room without the undead catching on to where they went, they'll have time to look for information on what is happening outside. Stephen gets to show that grabbing the mall schematic was a wise idea - he points out that there is duct work above them if they can figure out how to access it.

With the Hare Krishna, it is wandering (again, why?) through the hallway heading in Fran's direction.

In the JC Penny - the guys find an elevator shaft they can use to access the ductwork above their heads and ergo get around the mall without alerting the zombies as to their location.

Scene 30: While the boys are dealing with a hatch over the ductwork, Fran hears sounds coming from below. Fran calls out for Stephen from the stairwell - but we see that he and the other guys are currently crawling through the ceiling....

Fran sees a glimpse of the zombie's head and rushes back into the storage room, where she pushes boxes in front of the door (boxes which are awfully light looking for being filled with cans of spam, by the way). The zombie continues its random wandering up the stairs....

As the guys are making their way to, and lowering themselves into the short, dead end hallway that leads to the door, that leads to the hallway to the electrical/plumbing room, that leads to another hallway that leads to the stairwell that goes up to the storage room, the Hare Kirshna is pushing open the door despite Fran's efforts to keep him out.

Commentary: So, can we see how ridiculous it is that the zombie managed to find its way to Fran's location in the first place? It's also funny how strong that scrawny zombie is despite muscles that should be rotting away (another general problem with zombies as monsters, we can acknowledge). I have to overlook a lot of flaws, I'll admit, but since I love this movie - I will....

Frannie looks desperately for anything she can use as a weapon, while the zombie shuffles its way hungrily toward her. Despite her terror, she's able to keep her head and finding road flares, lights one up. The zombies prove to have an instinctual fear of fire (still - this was an effective means of holding them off in "Night of...." as well).

In the meantime, the guys' attempt to quietly make their way out of the mall proper is successful and they head back, not realizing that Fran is in a fight for her life.

The zombie is able to knock the flare from Fran's hand just as it goes out anyway and she leaps for the ladder that leads up to the roof. It grabs at her flailing legs as she tries to kick it away enough to climb to safety....

Commentary: These intercut scenes are filled with a lot of tension and I love them - but the timeline is a bit compressed. Unless Fran has been kicking and flailing for the last fifteen minutes (instead of say, climbing) there just isn't any way the guys would have gotten back to the room fast enough to save her. I think that Romero lost track of the established long, convoluted path taken earlier to get between the mall and this room through the industrial area (or they were filmed out of order so he didn't catch just how improbable the zombie getting to Fran actually is).

Anyway, the guys are able to reach Fran - but they can't shoot the zombie because of the noise drawing more zombie's attentions (adding evidence to my supposition that no one remembered there are noisy electrical generators between where they are and where the zombies are located). They're able to wrestle the thing away from them and bash its brains in.

Scene 31: In the aftermath of Fran's close call, she's lying on the floor in a side room and smoking. She has a look of despair on her face (due to Stephen's talk of 'having it made' in the mall earlier - we'll find out that they had a plan, and she's still in favor of following it). In the main room, the guys are trying to get some sort of signal from the portable TV they've grabbed, eating and drinking Jack Daniels (my kinda folk).

The station is only transmitting a pattern test - but the radio has information about people not trying to hole up alone in their homes. Peter asks about Fran because she looked ill to him.

Stephen shares that it isn't just her nerves - she's also pregnant, adding to her sense of vulnerability. The guys talk about what this means to their plans of staying put, not realizing that Fran is listening in to them talking about her. Peter asks Stephen if he wants to keep the baby - he tells him he knows how to abort it, if he wants... he makes the mistake of not verbally defending the pregnancy, which causes Fran distress. He does shake his head 'no', but of course, Fran doesn't know that.

He turns in, to find Fran sitting against the wall. They sit apart for a moment and Fran asks resentfully if they've made all their decisions. She asks him if he wants to abort the baby, but he turns the question back on her instead of answering.

In the main room, Peter and Roger continue talking about guarding in shifts so they're not taken by any surprises. Peter points out that it isn't just the zombies they have to worry about - and the chopper is very conspicuous on the roof.

In the meanwhile, we find out why Fran is so upset about staying at the mall - their plans were to run to Canada and she's convinced that there is safety waiting there. She's also resentful that the 'men-folk' are busy making plans without any interest in her opinion on the matter - but Stephen points out they thought she was asleep - it isn't that they're ignoring her opinion (although since they sort of agree 3 to 1 - they kind of are). He tells her jokingly that she was the one who wanted to 'set up house' but she's not in a jovial mood.

Commentary: Between this comment, Stephen's ambivalent tone of voice when revealing she was pregnant and Fran's "most of the time" comment when Peter asked about whether they were a couple in the chopper earlier, it is obvious that Fran worries also about Stephen's commitment, which appears to have been an ongoing source of tension for them pre-Apocalypse.

Scene 32: Early the next morning, more zombies are coming in from outside through he unsecured doors. That isn't tenable if they're going to be staying. But right now, our focus is on a voice over talking about the current state of the nation... in fact of the world. The voiceover describes the undead as having no reasoning ability (this isn't strictly true) but that they do seem to have memories of their previous lives and seemed to be performing tasks to no purpose related to their former existences (like going to the mall - we also see them punching buttons on registers - playing with ice pucks and other activities seemingly out of some habit when there isn't food taking up their attention).

The voice over also insists that they cannot and must not be considered human. He urges the public to not think of them as friends or family members in dealing with them (see 'Night of the Living Dead' where in both Barbara and Helen Cooper die because they can't bring themselves to seperate who their loved one used to be from the shambling revenants they've become). The gentleman on the television (at some sort of news conference judging by the watermelon-watermelon noises coming from offscreen) insists in no uncertain terms that the dead must be destroyed - whether animated or not, which apparently many are having a hard time facing (see the talk show host arguing with his guest in the very first scenes and the tenement residents).

As Fran wanders out to the sounds of the television, Peter, Stephen and Roger are on the roof.

Scene 33: They come up with a plan to deal with the problem of more and more undead wandering freely into the mall - the solution? Drive semi trailers in front of the outdoor entrances to stop their egress and then deal with the ones that are currently wandering around indoors. With power, they have fresh water still being pumped in, supplies such a tools and clothes, and with restaurants inside - walk in freezers with meat and vegetables available. It seems like they've lucked into the perfect place to hold tight until the authorities get the situation in hand, or the plague burns itself out and whatever is causing the undead to rise has ended.

Fran is still pissed that they've decided on a plan that affects her, but haven't bothered to ask for her opinion.

She sarcastically asks if she can say something. She tells them that she's sorry that the were told about her pregnancy, but that she doesn't want to be treated any differently then the guys are treating each other. She insists she wants to be included in any planning and that she wants to be informed of what is going on. Peter tells her that is fair and she asks about what they're up to.

He tells her that they're going out - and if she wants to be included in any runs outside of their hideout, she'll have to learn how to handle herself. She here makes a very good point, despite Stephen's irritation: she insists that she be trained on the use of the copter, in case anything happens to him so they aren't stranded. She also tells them that she won't be left without a gun, again.

Commentary: Stephen is being a real ass in this whole scene and I can't figure out exactly why. I can only think it has to do with her not playing the 'girl' role and insisting that she 'butt into' the man-work. It can be hard to remember that women weren't always carrying guns and doing whatever men are doing as a matter of course. It may also have to do with Stephen just wanting her to take it easy and let them worry about things while she concentrates on the baby. I'm not sure - but he sure is angered when she insists on having a gun....

Scene 34: Outdoors, the guys put their plan into effect. Stephen keeps a watchful eye from the sky, while Peter and Roger handle parking the semi-truck trailers so that they're blocking the doorways. In the meantime, Peter also notices that the sounds of the engines revving is drawing out even more zombies from the surrounding truck lot. On the rooftop, Fran and her rifle keeps track of what the guys are doing below.

Roger parks his truck and then dashes for Peter's cab to be brought back to the truck lot for another - and we start getting a bad feeling about this operation already because while Peter is nervous - Roger is treating the whole thing like one big playtime. Joking and laughing and definitely not treating the army of shambling undead like they could actually surround and hurt him.

Roger jumps into the next truck - hoopin' and hollerin' like a damned kid. As Peter starts to drive away, Rog starts hot wiring his truck. But, he doesn't even bother locking the doors, despite the undead surrounding them, which just proves how unseriously he's started to take all of this.

Stephen, in the chopper, sees zombies closing in on Roger's position, but can't get his attention. He flies off for Peter (who really shouldn't have left before Roger was ready, anyway, dammit). Roger remains oblivious to the closing danger as he fiddles with the ignition wires - door to the cab wide-effing-open!

At the driver door of Roger's truck, a zombie with a wedding ring hits the window, gaining his attention - but that isn't where the threat is! A woman has come up beside the open passenger door and is opening it further to gain entry. As the woman grabs at his foot and another closes in behind her, his rifle strap gets hung up on a fire extinguisher in the cab so he can't bring it to bear!

As he's struggling to keep from being bitten in the legs by the woman zombie and wrestling to get his gun unstuck, the zombie at the drivers side picks up a tire iron from the ground and smashes that window behind him. Meanwhile, Stephen hovering close to the ground in front of Peter clues him in that something is wrong and he heads for Roger's location.

Roger finally frees the gun enough to plug the woman in the torso, but naturally this doesn't stop her. The zombie woman claws at Roger's face and tries to bite his wrists as Peter yells for him to lift its head up so he can shoot it. This he does and the zombie's head is blown through, splashing blood over his face.

Commentary: The first time, I thought "oh shit - he got it in his mouth and eyes", but that isn't what happens - though it should have. There is some bad continuity work here, alas. The blood smears on Roger change from scene to scene, including the sin of vanishing and reappearing between jump cuts.

With the zombies taken care of, and with coming so close, Roger has a slight freak out - laughing inappropriately and being a little manic.

Peter asks if he's alright, to which he responds, "Perfect, Baby. Perfect." The look on his face belies this. Peter also looks less than sure that he's doing alright. It's especially obvious to us that he is not 'okay' when he deliberately aims the truck for the zombies wandering around with a large grin on his face....

Commentary: As much as I'd love to read slashtasticness into this scene - "Baby" in this case is equal to "pal" or "buddy" or "dude" ... it is the 70s, still.

Scene 35: With the second truck in place, Roger transfers himself to Peter's truck again, this time surrounded by even more zombies than the first time. Roger wastes precious time lining up shots at some mid-range zombies and shooting them, while Peter is shouting at him to just get in the truck cab so they can get on their way. In the meantime, the only thing between Roger's body and a hoard of zombies is his open driver's side door as he straddles the space between the two trucks.

He again comes damned close to getting bitten twice - once he saves himself at the last second with the stock of the barrel and the second time by Frannie who fires from the mall rooftop and hits a zombie in the chest - knocking it to the ground. Peter puts the truck in gear with Roger hanging half out.

They only drive for a few seconds while Roger gets himself seated before he realizes that he left his tool bag in the truck at the entrance. Peter stops, pissed and tells him to get his head on straight, but Roger just yells "yeah, yeah, let's go!"

Peter grabs his by his jumpsuit front and gets up in his face, telling him that he isn't just playing with his own life now and he better get his head on straight, which seems to get through to him that he's acting recklessly and putting them in danger.

Commentary: How much do I love Peter? He is my favorite character in this movie - and I love the chemistry between he and Roger.

Peter goes back to Roger's left truck so he can retrieve his tools....

Commentary: Will ... not ... see ... slash ...!

Scene 36: As Fran shoots in the zombie's direction, Roger stretches from one cab to the other and grabs his tool bag - but drops it! Damn it!

Commentary: I always yell for him to just leave it and take the time to go and retrieve a new set... they've waited this long to block off the entrances, what's another fifteen minutes. He never listens to me, though. Damn it.

As Roger drops down between the trucks to retrieve his tool bag, Fran tries to cover him from the roof, while Peter points his pistol out of the passenger window and gets in some head shots. They seem like they're going to pull this close call off to, but Roger takes a bite - a deep, chunk tearing bite - to the arm. Struggling into Peter's cab - he gets bit a second time in the shin.

The look on Peter's face says it all....

Peter wants to call of the rest of the operation so they can deal with Roger's bleeding leg wound, but Roger insists they finish despite his obvious pain. Both of them pretty much know what his being bitten means - as we're about to learn, they've seen others with bite wounds before.

Scene 37: A short amount of time later, they've finished blocking off the entrances and Roger's wounds have been wrapped up by Fran. Peter consults with Stephen about clearing the inside of the mall. Roger insists on helping them, despite his injuries.

Scene 38: Using the duct work, Peter and Stephen drop down into the gun store to load up.

Once heavily armed, the foursome (yes, including 'the girl', which is also why I love this movie) start moving through the mall, killing the zombies on the second floor. Roger is rolled around by Peter in the wheelbarrel they used to load up the items they gathered earlier.

They return to the JC Penny's for a few propane torches (which I thought was to weld the doors, but no - apparently it was just to use to keep the zombies away).

Fran complains that they'll never be able to get through all of the zombies to all of the doors to lock them up (at first this made no sense to me - why are we worried about the doors when the entrances are blocked - but you can see that the trucks aren't right up against the doors, so zombies are squeezing through), but Peter says there is no backing out now. Fran suddenly points out the cars that are on display on the lower level (yes, I've seen cars indoors on display at the local mall, usually as part of a raffle/mailing list entry thing - so this isn't ridiculous) and suggests using one of those to speed up the process and keep out of the zombies' reach.

So, 'Operation: Seal Doors While Avoiding Zombies' is undertaken. Using the torches as deterrent and a few gunshots, they get underway. Peter rolls Roger to the rear of a hatchback so he can crawl up to the front of the car and hotwire it. In the meantime, Stephen fumbles with the store keys that he forgot to give Fran so she could lock up after them (she stays behind, this time) so there is some short lived danger that Stephen will be overwhelmed.

As Roger struggles to get into place in the car, a zombie comes around the side of the vehicle while Peter's attention is on covering Stephen - she grabs his leg, tearing open his bound wound in a gush of blood and screaming. Peter shoots her in the head just before she can bite into Roger's wound. In the meantime, back at the store, a nun-zombie has gotten her habit stuck in the closed door and Fran actually opens it a bit to free her - which I find both ridiculous and very human at once. She watches the nun trundle off, looking at her as if in gratitude.

On the floor, Roger puts the car in gear after hot-wiring it and takes off with Peter riding shot gun and Stephen in the hatchback. A zombie (stunt-MAN, clearly - in a dress) grabs onto the bumper and gets dragged a bit before Stephen puts two bullets in his ... er ... her head.

Peter and Stephen lock up the doors - holding the zombies between the semi trailer and the doors out with them not having the leverage to smash their way through. He sets the door alarms and then they move to the next set of doors. In the meanwhile, Roger handles driving the car in between gnashing his teeth in pain over his bite wounds.

In the store waiting for their return, Fran has an encounter with another zombie who sits on the floor on the other side of the secured doors, just staring at her longingly. You can tell she feels empathy for the guy....

Scene 39: Much later, the foursome are on the second floor looking down into the atrium, where dead bodies lay everywhere - blood splatters haloing their heads.

As Roger struggles up to look at their handiwork, too, the others glance at him and it's obvious they're all thinking about Roger's future and Fran walks away, obviously upset.

Scene 40: A little later, back in their makeshift apartment, Fran struggles to get a needle open. She goes in to give Roger a dose of morphine (I'm doubting mall pharmacy's had morphine in stock). Peter works with Stephen on securing their location further. His idea is to build a phoney wall over the door that leads to the hallway that leads to the machinery room that leads to another hallway that leads to the stairwell that leads up to their secreted office rooms. That way, if they get any unexpected visitors, no one will even know that section of the mall exists.

Fran puts a cool rag on Roger's forehead where he's layed out and rejoins the other two. She complains that she doesn't know what else to do. It's become obvious that Roger's leg has an infection that is spreading rapidly. This is where Peter tells them that he's seen bite marked victims before. None of them lasted longer than three days....

From the bedroom, Roger has a spasm and calls to Peter - he tells him they kicked ass - but he appears at least a little delusional. Peter is obviously struggling with Roger's worsening condition.

Onto Part III, Instead
Tags: review dawn of the dead

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