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Following the events of Night of the Living Dead (1968), we follow the exploits of four survivors of the expanding zombie apocalypse as they take refuge in an abandoned shopping mall following a horrific SWAT evacuation of an apartment complex. Taking stock of their surroundings, they arm themselves, lock down the mall, and destroy the zombies inside so they can eke out a living--at least for a while. Tensions begin to build as months go on, and they come to realize that they've fallen prey to consumerism. Soon afterward, they have even heavier problems to worry about, as a large gang of bikers discovers the mall and invades it, ruining the survivors' best-laid plans and forcing them to fight off both lethal bandits and flesh-eating zombies. Written by
Curly Q. Link
Thoughtful if unsubtle epic follow-up to Night of the Living Dead was one of THE influential movies of the late 70's; pity, then, that the people it influenced paid more attention to the amped-up gore than to the sense of contained hysteria that makes what should be tough going (there are basically three scenes in this movie: zombies attack people, people attack zombies, people stand around talking) a uniquely involving and provocative self-analysis of the zombie film.
The symbolism is, well, not delicate. Just in case we missed it the first time, the trope that the mall attracts the zombies "because it was an important place to them" is repeated for our rumination. But the overall sustained atmosphere, inside and outside of the banal environment of the shopping mall, is by far the film's salient contribution; even when there is no obvious action onscreen, there is the threat of an attack to come, and the clock is clearly ticking on the four protagonists during their idyll. Moreover, it takes the conspicuously familiar and catapults it into an apocalyptic situation, creating a powerful sense of displacement.
The violence, which is primarily what draws people to or repels them from this movie, comes on strong, but quickly becomes monotonous (as it is, the vast majority of the violence in the movie is inflicted against the zombies rather than by them, though is none the less repulsive for that); the scariest part of the movie is how plausible it makes the concept of total disintegration of what we perceive as civilization. The soundtrack, highlighting pulsing, insistent synthesizer chords, contributes much to the onscreen tension, which the action choreography is exemplary. An unlikely masterpiece.
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