CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

Darkness during Lent: "Dawn of the Dead" and "Secret Window"

It is with a sense of sad irony that "The Passion of the Christ" the box office champion for three weeks, lost it's number one position to the horror remake, "Dawn of the Dead." The audiences for both movies are as diverse as could be. After witnessing **The Passion of the Christ,** I saw tears and hugs. After departing "Dawn of the Dead," a guy offered to sell me substances for a personal party. Theatre managers please take note, drug pushing scum like that do not belong in our local movie theatres.

"Dawn of the Dead" opens with one of the best precredit sequences since James Bond skied off a mountain in "The Spy Who Loved Me." Ana (Sara Polley) is a nurse who returns home from an average day at work. She fufills wher wifely duties and wakes up the next morning. Having missed an emergency news bullentin on the nightly news, the world is in chaos and Ana is atttacked by her lover who has turned into a flesh eating zombie. She narrowrly escapes and eventually finds refuge in a shopping mall with other survivors suffering from character quirks. Despite their sanctuary, the zombies sniff out their next meal and lay seige on the shopping mall.

"Dawn of the Dead" delivers what is expected from this revision of the George Romero film of the same title from 1979. This new version is presented at a breakneck pace with well timed moments of humor. One running gag features the survivors running for their lives, while elevator muzak from the late music plays in the background. Actors involved in the first version, Ken Foree, Tom Savini and Scott H. Reiniger have effective cameo appearences. The director of photography Matthew F. Leonetti creates some phenomenial shots on a realitively small, but efficient budget.

Yet there is a darkness to this motion picture that is smothering. The film tackles themes of grief, survival and sacrifice. A women in her late stages of pregnancy is bitten by a zombie. The suvivors debate the merits and morality of letting the woman survive or aborting the fetus. This may be the only movie I have ever witnessed in which a baby is killed that illicits applause from an audience.

"Secret Window" is a novela from Stephen King's book, "Four Past Midnight." The storyline treads author's literary terroritory from the past, "The Shining," "Misery," and "The Dark Half." A writer suffers from writer's block and begins to go crazy at some remote location. This time the writer is Maurice (Johnny Depp) and he resides in a remote cabin in New England. After catching his wife (Maria Bello) cheating on him, Maurice has secluded himself in an effort create an ending to his novel. After hours of whiling away on the typewriter, Maurice meets Shooter (John Turturro), a character who says Maurice stole his work.

"Secret Window" is a slight movie in the tradition of censored Errie and Creepy comic books from the late 1950's and early 1960's. There are echoes from Stephen King's "Children of the Corn" and Oscar winner Timothy Hutton portrays Bello's extra marrital love interest. Hutton played the title roles in Stephen King's "The Dark Half." It is the performances by Johhny Depp, Maria Bello and John Turturro that raises this film from obscurity. "Secret Window" will be repeated viewing in three years on Sunday afternoon television.

"Dawn of the Dead" and "Secret Window" are two movies that respresents two spectrums of horror movies. One is Freudian driven character study and the other film is a fast paced narrative about the end of the world. Both films are similar in their prevailing pessimism that evil triumphs over good.

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