Archive for tom savini

DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2012 by goregirl

In 3 years of blogging I have failed to include reviews for a good chunk of my favourite horror films! They have appeared in slideshows and top ten lists but for some insane reason have never been given the full review treatment. Well I think it is high time I rectified that! Since it is zombie month and all I thought I would start with the film I named as my number one favourite of the sub-genre; George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Some minor spoilers ahead!!

I really loved post-apocalyptic films when I was younger. Not specifically zombie apocalypse; I loved them all! Escape from New York, Mad Max, Dead-End Drive In, The Warriors, and 2019: After the Fall of New York to name a few. I used to categorize Dawn of the Dead with these films because as far as I knew there weren’t a whole lot of other zombie films. Also, I have always enjoyed saying the word apocalypse. Ah yes, back in the day when I was seeing these films for the first time there were a hell of a lot less zombie films. I know! But it is true! In any case, zombie films are definitely horror but they do also tuck nicely into the apocalypse sub-genre. As a grown up I realize an apocalyptic event would not be a good thing. When I was younger however I used to dream up personas for myself. I envisioned myself as a sort of female Harmonica; Charles Bronson’s character in Once Upon A Time in the West. The idea of that has always stayed with me. In fact, I recently took up the harmonica! All these films have plenty of violence but none are as graphic or as terrifying as Dawn of the Dead. Dawn of the Dead was one of my first apocalyptic films, first zombie films and my first experience with serious gore. I also got to see this at the drive-in when I was just a kid! No bloody wonder Dawn of the Dead rocked (and continues to rock) my world!

Dawn of the Dead begins with a chaotic scene inside a T.V. Station. This is where we meet two of our four central characters; station employees Francine and Steve. Romero does a nice job of creating a tense atmosphere right from the get go. An interview with a scientist lets us know the reason for the chaos. The scientist explains that we are dealing with the living dead. He advises the only way to put down one of the living dead is by severe trauma to the head (aim for the head!!). From one chaotic scene to another, we move to a SWAT team closing in on a building where they believe a bad ass by the name of Martinez is holed up. Inside the building we get our first glance at the zombies. The zombies in Dawn of the Dead vary in quality. Some of the undead are quite elaborate and gory and others are just slightly discolored. I guess this could be looked at as a flaw, but I prefer to look at it as different stages of death. I assure you, Romero certainly does not skimp on the blood and gore; but more on that later. This is where we meet our other two central characters; SWAT team dudes Peter and Roger. Roger tells Peter that he is meeting a friend who will be leaving the city by helicopter that night. This is how our epic apocalyptic tale begins.

Romero gives us an efficient and effective setup. Our quartet are on their way but not before a brief encounter with some local cops also looking to split town quick. They fly for hours over cities and towns infested with the undead. Eventually they have to stop for fuel and we get a nice zombie sampling including two children that Peter has to shoot in the head. The balance of the film takes place in Suburbia’s great hell mouth; the mall. Its roof provides a nice landing pad for the helicopter. This will be their home for the next several months. There are a significant number of zombies milling about so every task they attempt is an exercise in intensity. They do manage to get inside the stores and bulk up on supplies. Hallelujah! This mall has got a gun shop! We are taken along on this journey into hell with these four people. We sit back in the comfort of our living rooms and watch their struggle for survival. What makes it work so well for me is the fact that I could actually identify with these characters. They never do anything extraordinary or superhuman; they simply deal with what they are confronted with in the most reasonable manner possible. The four actors have great chemistry which helps make the interaction between them more natural and easier to relate to. I must say here that it couldn’t hurt to have two SWAT guys with good dispositions with you during a zombie apocalypse! Peter and Roger are obviously pretty handy with a gun; weatherman Steve, not so much. When Steve attempts a few shots early in the film, Roger steps in front of him and takes the shot for him. In fairness, Steve shoots carelessly, but Roger’s neccessary intrusion could not be good for Steve’s ego. Steve and Francine will need to learn how to shoot with confidence and accuracy, and they’ll have lots of opportunity to practice. Francine is the lone female of the group who proves to be every bit as useful and productive as the rest of the quartet. Good call on Romero’s part not making Francine a helpless, wishy-washy useless whiner! Francine acts as an indicator of time passed. She marks an “X” on the days of the calendar, but it is her pregnant belly that is really telling. That is a wee spoiler but Romero really doesn’t dwell much on Francines’s pregnancy. It is just another bit of reality that they will need to deal with sooner or later.

There are so many zombies! They keep coming and coming! They manage to eliminate  all of the zombies inside the mall but they continue to gather outside. Every day more of the undead appear outside the malls glass doors desperate to get in. I really do prefer these slow-moving zombies to the new super fast variety. I have come to terms with the fast zombies at this point, and they certainly are intimidating coming at you with speed and foaming at the mouth! That said, the slower type respond in a manner I would expect from a reanimated corpse; and in a solid film like Dawn of the Dead they are certainly no less effective! There is a ton of action in Dawn of the Dead! The action scenes are evenly distributed throughout the entire film. There is one particularly nasty blood bath towards the finale when a gang of bikers bust their way into the mall after spying the helicopter on the roof. Contending with zombies apparently wasn’t enough, now they get to deal with a bloody bike gang! This is the films goriest section and Romero also adds some humour to the mix. One of the gang members just can not resist putting his arm inside the “check your heart rate” machine and gets swarmed by zombies who drag him off leaving his arm behind! There is even a slapsticky bit with the gang throwing pies in the zombie’s faces. You know those bikers are going to have to pay for that stunt! Amoung the copious amounts of gore on display, there is a lingering scene of a group of zombies energetically pulling the entrails from a victim and greedily munching on them. Buckets of blood spilled, limbs torn off, flesh bitten, ripped, shredded and eaten and a coo-coo amount of zombie head trauma! It is not for the faint of heart! When I was a kid I would watch this section through the cracks of my fingers! Tom Savini who was responsible for the film’s makeup effects also makes an appearance as one of the bikers! The entire segment is a weird mix of humour and intensity that works beautifully!

I’ve probably spoiled enough of Dawn of the Dead for those who have not seen the film. Don’t worry, I’ve kept a few surprises for you to discover! I have cited Dawn of the Dead numerous times on this blog. On my fifty wishes: the horror film edition I wished there were more zombie films as good as Dawn of the Dead, I named it as one of the ten films that made me a horror fan for life, it received the #1 spot on my top ten favourite horror films from 1978, has long held a position in my top one hundred horror films of all time and George A. Romero was my #10 director in my dungeon director project: my fifty favourite directors. My love of Dawn of the Dead is probably teetering on the edge of obsessive. Dawn of the Dead is the perfect horror film in my opinion. Dawn of the Dead has a fascinating premise, likable characters you hope will survive, intensity, scares, gore and a few laughs and it is all wrapped up in this perfectly paced, perfectly staged package. Oh yeah, and it also has zombies, lots and lots and lots and lots of zombies!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: George A. Romero

Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, David Crawford, David Early, Richard France, Howard Smith, Tom Savini


Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2009 by goregirl

festival of fear 2009
Seriously!! That is one fantastic promo poster!! Well, here it is, the Guest Line up for the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear. I will definitely have to meet Roger Corman and Tom Savini! This is a cut and paste job. To check out the original document go to

The RUE MORGUE FESTIVAL OF FEAR is the country’s largest horror expo, attracting an average of 40,000+ fans to the heart of downtown Toronto over three days in August. This powerhouse event is an extravaganza of celebrity guests, autograph signings, parties, Q&A sessions, seminars and workshops, and a colossal selection of movies and movie memorabilia, including books, comic books, toys, video games, trading cards, posters, anime, manga, and tons more.

Check out the line up Below!!!

(The Evil Dead trilogy, Bubba Ho-Tep)

Bruce Campbell began his lustrous film career making Super-8 movies with legendary director Sam Raimi back in 1975. Three years later, the pair would create a Super-8 short film called “Within the Woods” which would later be made into the full-length film called THE EVIL DEAD, an instant cult classic praised at the Cannes Film Festival by Stephen King. Campbell and Raimi’s creative union was crystallized with the two classic sequels to the Evil Dead: EVIL DEAD II and ARMY OF DARKNESS.
Additional Campbell/Raimi collaborations include DARKMAN, CRIMEWAVE and the SPIDERMAN films. A cult film staple, Campbell has also been seen in other notable genre films, including Don Coscarelli’s BUBBA HO-TEP, John Carpenter’s ESCAPE FROM L.A., MANIAC COP, INTRUDER, and many more. His extensive television career includes roles on XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS and HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS. Bruce is also the author of the book IF CHINS COULD KILL: CONFESSIONS OF A ‘B’ MOVIE ACTOR and writer/director of the recent films MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN and MY NAME IS BRUCE. Rue Morgue is proud to present Bruce Campbell as ‘Guest of Honour’ to the 2009 Festival of Fear.

(The Masque of the Red Death, The Tomb of Ligeia and A Bucket of Blood)

Roger Corman’s amazing influence on modern American cinema is as incalculable as it is legendary. Corman began his involvement in cinema in 1953 as a producer/screenwriter, making his debut as director in 1955 and turning out five films in just one year. In 1957, Corman directed the horror-cult classic A BUCKET OF BLOOD; in 1960 he gave the world the original THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. Through the 1960s Corman made a series of now classic adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories starring Vincent Price. These included THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, co-starring horror icon Barbara Steele, HOUSE OF USHER, THE HAUNTED PALACE, THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, THE TOMB OF LIGEIA and THE RAVEN co-starring Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff. The prolific director also boasts one of the most extensive resumes as producer, having realized classic films like NOT OF THIS EARTH, THE DUNWICH HORROR, DEATH RACE 2000, PIRANHA, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, GALAXY OF TERROR, and many, many more. In 1990
Corman retired from directing to concentrate on production and distribution through his company New World/Concorde Pictures,
making exploitation films and using profits to distribute distinguished art films. Among the world-class names who were employed by him in the early days are Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Joe Dante, Robert DeNiro, William Shatner, and many others. Rue Morgue is proud to present a rare public appearance by Roger Corman to the 2009 Festival of Fear.

(Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Mark of the Devil)

Udo Kier was born in Cologne, Germany, during World War II. While learning English in the UK he took acting courses and was eventually offered a role by director Michael Sarne in the film ROAD TO ST. TROPEZ in 1966. His first hit film was in 1970 with the banned horror classic MARK OF THE DEVIL. Kier then met director Paul Morrissey who offered him the lead role in the film FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN, a film that solidified Kier as a cult icon. Kier later took the lead role in Morrissey’s masterpiece BLOOD FOR DRACULA; both films were so beloved by Andy Warhol that he attached his name to them. In the 1970s Kier’s work included THE STORY OF O and Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA. As he gained more visibility in America his breakthrough role was in MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO in 1991. The remainder of the 90’s included roles in the cult favorite BARB WIRE, Lars Von Trier’s BREAKING THE WAVES, and the action vampire flick BLADE. Kier can be seen more recently in ROB ZOMBIE’S HALLOWEEN, Quentin Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE and John Carpenter’s MASTERS OF HORROR episode. Rue Morgue is proud to present a very rare public appearance by Udo Kier to the 2009 Festival of Fear.

(Black Sunday, Pit and the Pendulum and Dark Shadows)

Barbara Steele was born in Cheshire, England and is loved for her dark mysterious beauty. She is considered the most beautiful star of the greatest horror masterpiece of Italian film, Mario Bava’s La Maschera Del Demonio (1960), also known as BLACK SUNDAY. After the film’s success, Steele was brought to America to star in Roger Corman’s PIT AND THE PENDULUM alongside Vincent Price. By now Steele was a horror film superstar and in 1962, she answered an open-casting call and won a role in Federico Fellini’s groundbreaking 8 1/2. In 1963 she started work on her next horror movie, THE HORRIBLE DR. HITCHCOCK. Many more horror films followed including THE SPECTRE, CASTLE OF BLOOD, ANGEL FOR SATAN and others. Her horror fans were delighted when she showed up on TV in Rod Serling’s NIGHT GALLERY and the new episodes of DARK SHADOWS. Steele has developed a relative fondness about her horror queen status which was evident in her appearance in the Clive Barker documentary A-Z of HORROR. Some of her additional films include CEMETARY OF THE LIVING DEAD, CAGED HEAT and SILENT SCREAM. Rue Morgue is proud to present a very rare appearance by Barbara Steele at the 2009 Festival of Fear.

(Planet Terror, Day of the Dead and Creepshow)

Over the decades Tom Savini has established himself as the Beethoven of Special FX. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Savini was always fascinated with movie magic and was notably attracted to another horror film pioneer: Lon Chaney. Savini’s wartime experience in Vietnam spurred his move into special effects where he worked closely with George Romero throughout the latter’s career. First came MARTIN in 1977; a year later he was working with Romero again on DAWN OF THE DEAD and then DAY OF THE DEAD in 1985. In 1990, Savini directed a striking re-make of Romero’s original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Savini has also worked alongside such horror gods as Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez. Some of his other well known projects include special effects, acting, and/or stunt work in the films FRIDAY THE 13TH, CREEPSHOW, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, MONKEY SHINES, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, LAND OF THE DEAD, and recently LOST BOYS: THE TRIBE.

(Donnie Darko, May and Doom Generation)

James Duval is an American actor and heart-throb most famous for his roles in the Gregg Araki trilogy, TOTALLY FUCKED UP, THE DOOM GENERATION, and NOWHERE, in addition to being the man in the eerie bunny rabbit suit in Richard Kelly’s DONNIE DARKO, Blank in Lucky McGee’s MAY, and Singh in the film GO. Duvall’s other notable horror work includes MAD COWGIRL, THE CLOWN AT MIDNIGHT, and recently EVERYTHING WILL HAPPEN BEFORE YOU DIE. James also plays guitar in his music group Antoneus Maximus & The Nuthouze Band.

(World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide)

Max Brooks is an Emmy Award winning television writer, author, and actor who also happens to be the son of film legends Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. Max attended film school at American University in Washington, DC, and went on to write acclaimed sketch comedy for SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, and create the best selling satire book THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE. Most recently, Paramount Pictures have acquired the screen rights for Max’s WORLD WAR Z: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE WAR, the follow-up to ZSG which will be a major motion picture slated for release in 2010.

(Children of the Corn and The Terminator)

Linda Hamilton is a multiple Emmy and Golden Award nominated actress is best known for her unforgettable role of Sarah Connor from THE TERMINATOR feature films. She is also beloved for her portrayal of Catherine Chandler in the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST television series from the late 1980s opposite Ron Perlman. Some of her other television appearances include FRASIER and HILLSTREET BLUES. Primarily a film actress, Hamilton starred in a string of successful movies including CHILDREN OF THE CORN, BLACK MOON RISING, KING KONG LIVES, and DANTE’S PEAK. Hamilton has also lent her talents to voice over work in animation where she provided the voice of many well known animated characters in projects such as BATMAN BEYOND.

(The Toxic Avenger and Poultrygeist)

Lloyd Kaufman is the certifiable granddaddy of low-budget, lowbrow splatter comedies stretching back to the early ’80s. He is a director, producer, actor as well as the president of Troma, which has done much to influence independent filmmakers the world over, including Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Kaufman achieved new levels of success with his 1984 breakthrough movie THE TOXIC AVENGER, which spawned three sequels, an animated series for kids and even a cereal. He has also directed the Troma faves TROMEO & JULIET, TERROR FIRMER, POULTRYGEIST and many more.

(co-creator Swamp Thing and Wolverine)

Len Wein is an American comic book writer and editor best known for co-creating DC Comics’ SWAMP THING and Marvel Comics’ WOLVERINE character, and for helping revive the Marvel superhero team the X-Men including the co-creation of NIGHTCRAWLER, STORM, and COLOSSUS. Additionally, he was the editor for writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons’ influential DC miniseries WATCHMEN. Len Wein was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2008.

(author – Bitten and The Summoning)

Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She’s the author of the NYT-best selling WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD paranormal suspense series, BITTEN, and the DARKEST POWERS to name a few. Kelley’s current books and short stories include THE SUMMONING, ZEN AND THE ART OF VAMPIRISM, and LIVING WITH THE DEAD.

(After Dark, My Sweet)

Joshua Hoffine is a world renowned horror photographer whose work frequently deals with childhood fears. Hoffine stages his photographs like small movies, with sets, elaborate props, fog machines and special effects make-up with the help of his family and friends. His photographs have been featured in dozens of publications around the world, including Rue Morgue, The London Times, and Russian Playboy. Joshua is based out of Kansas City, where he lives and works with his four young daughters.

(Horror Rawkillbilly)

Possibly New Jersey’s most dangerous band, Psycho Charger is a witches brew of psychobilly fire, cold industrial steel and distortion surf punk served up with horror movie sound bites. Spewing hymns from their very own dark gospel of murder, zombies and rednecks, PSYCHO CHARGER will damn your soul in a cyclone of vocal distortion and menacing guitar twang. PSYCHO CHARGER makes their Canadian premiere with an exclusive live performance at the official party of the 2009 Festival of Fear on Saturday, August 29 in celebration of their new record MARK OF THE PSYCHO released in June 2009.

(Canada’s Vampire Expert)

Elizabeth Miller is recognized internationally for her expertise on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula – its origins in folklore, literature and history, and its influence on the culture over the centuries. She has lectured throughout Canada as well as in the United States, England, Ireland, Germany, Poland and Romania. Dr. Miller has been interviewed by major media including the BBC, CBC, the New York Times, the Globe & Mail, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Her
publications on Dracula include dozens of articles and six books, including REFLECTIONS ON DRACULA, DRACULA: THE SHADE AND

(multi-media artist Marilyn Manson and Floria Sigismondi)

Antonella Sigismondi is an alumni of the Ontario College of Art and Design and has worked on, consulted, appeared in, and created art for many music videos for such artists as MARILYN MANSON, DAVID BOWIE, AMON TOBIN, THE HEADSTONES, THE TEA PARTY, and DANIEL LANOIS to name a few. Her sister Floria Sigismondi has been a life long collaborator with Antonella on many creative projects. On the stage, Sigismondi recently performed the daring character Joan in DOMESTIC SCIENCE DUB. Sigismondi is also acclaimed for her use of metal and glass in creating original art.

(Wizard of Gore)

Suicide Girls are part alternative cult community, and part pin-up girl showcase for close to one thousand fantastic tattooed and pierced bad girls, from Finland to Columbia and beyond. They are a throwback to the glamorous days of retro poster vixens when models were beautifully imperfect but stunningly hypnotic. Suicide Girls are artistically bent emo, goth, and punk rocker women, and an international sensation. A selection of the SG damsels can be seen in Jeremy Kasten’s remake of the H. G. Lewis horror classic THE WIZARD OF GORE.