Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Stone Ruination IPA

I was forced to make a difficult decision this week.  I knew I wanted to review Dawn of the Dead but I wasn’t sure if it would be ok to so without reviewing Night of the Living Dead first.  I mean, who watches Return of the King without watching The Fellowship of the Ring, and the Two Towers first!  I’ll tell you who…..this guy!  I’m the guy who can’t wait till Christmas to open presents, the one that cuts himself a piece of Lemon Morang pie just before Thanksgiving dinner, and I’m also the guy who reviews Dawn of the Dead before he reviews Night!
That decision being made I still needed a beer.  What beer to you pick for this movie.  You can’t just pull any bottle out of the cooler.  That would be insulting.  Then it hit me!  Ruination.  It makes perfect sense.  Read the back of the bottle.  It’s hilarious!  The beer claims it has a ruinous effect on the pallet and will make everything you eat and drink afterwards seem bland and dull.  What a pair for the zombie movie that sets the bar for which all other zombie movies are measured.  I have spent the last few years watching zombie movies and ending with the same pit of my stomach feeling.  The “well that was okay but it wasn’t as good as Dawn of the Dead” feeling.  Ruination will leave you feeling the same way about every IPA you have after it.
Rotten Tomatoes rates Dawn of the Dead at 94%.  For it’s time the movie was absolutely groundbreaking.  Even today’s movies with their enormous budgets and over the top CGI can’t hold a candle to the original.  The movie begins where Night left off.  The world is a few weeks into the zombie phenomenon and still searching for answers.  The movie opens up with one of my favorite scenes.  It’s the set of a talk show where an interview is being conducted.  Chaos is taking over already as people abandon their jobs and run.  The social satire is evident right from the start.  The opening scene addresses moral vs. logical decisions in dealing with the undead as well as issue of corporations placing money above the lives of people.  All this before I can even open my beer.
I flip the cap off the 22 oz bomber and high pour a third of the bottle into my big snifter.  I have a beautiful gold colored ale cloudy with hop and yeast sediment, bubbling under two fingers of foamy white head.  I raise the glass and bury my nose deep into it.  AMAZING!  This is the reason god gave us noses.  Big citrus swirls of orange, tangerine, and pine waft up to my nose.  Honestly as excited and amazed as I am every time I take my first sniff of this beef I’m equally filled with sadness and disappointment.  Sad because I know that that sniff, only seconds long, will be the most sensitive and fullest smell I will get.  My sense of smell will become desensitized and each sniff will sense less and less of the piney perfume.  I have an inability to just sit and enjoy that smell for all that it is since I know it will eventually go away.  The same is true to a lesser degree with my sense of taste.
Knowing that much of taste is directly related to my sense of smell I rush into my first sip.  It’s slightly syrupy with a perfect full mouth feel.  The mixture of my two favorite hops (Cascade and Centennial) explode like a resiny citrus bomb.  The IBU’s for this beer are well over 100.  The bitterness slams at my tongue with grapefruit and pine.  The bottle described it as I never can a “Liquid poem to the glory of the hop!"  The beer is fresh tasting and green with hops but enough malt background pushes through  with a grainy huskiness that lets you know it’s beer and not hop tea.  It’s bite but not astringent.  It’s hot but not overwhelming.  It’s amazing.
Now onto the swat scene.  Again the social aspect of this film pulses right off the screen.  A whole swat team (mostly white) descends upon a apartment project in order to secure the area and eliminate the dead that were there.  Of course there’s that one racist guy that just goes wild with bloodlust.  Within the first 15 minutes of the movie we see a zombie’s head explode with a shotgun blast.  It’s awesome.  Tom Savini’s special effects work shines in this film.  The exploding head being my favorite zombie kill.  Ken Foree “Peter” ends up killing our racist Swat team friend and thus ending his head exploding rampage.  I can’t help but think that this movie has everything.  Zombies, exploding heads, and one legged Spanish priests.
The movie progresses as two of the swat team members, a news traffic reporter, and his girlfriend all climb into the news station helicopter and end up at…..the mall.  Here they secure the mall and take out all the zombies inside.  It’s pretty creative the way they hotwire the big trucks to block off the doors of the mall.  Roger (the not black swat team guy) gets bitten twice trying to hotwire the trucks.  I’m glazing over this part of the movie a bit.  And by a bit I mean a lot.  But if you were reading this hoping for a play by play then you’re dumb.  You need to watch this movie.  During the time in the mall the four of them fall right back into the mystifying effects of being a consumer.  They spend their days shopping and furnishing their room in the mall to look like an apartment.

This movie is heavy in the character development which makes it much richer than other zombie movies.  There are less main characters than a lot of other movies but when something happens to one of them you feel it much more.  The one thing that drives me a little crazy is the woman character.  Gaylen Ross’s character is a self proclaimed pre Sigourney Weaver strong woman character.  Which I guess means that instead of screaming and running you just stand there and look stupid with a shaky gaping mouth gasp.  I mean come on!  Even towards the end when she was supposed to have turned into a strong and more calloused woman she seems weak and kind of useless.  Maybe that’s the problem with trying to watch a movie made in 1978 in 2011.  It seems out of place.  I have no idea what women in the 70’s were like but if the Resident Evil series has taught me anything it’s that woman can be tough too.  It’s not so much a zombie movie as much as it’s a movie about the strength of women and the promotion of equal rights.  Break through that glass ceiling with karate not terrified gasps and slapping
Now let me move to the ending.  In the zombie apocalypse who is the real enemy?  Who are the most evil people on earth in the 1970’s.  I’ll tell you who….Bikers.   They see the helicopter on the roof of the mall and decide they want in.  So they blow some stuff up, move the trucks, and get into the mall.  In the process they let in every zombie in a five mile radius.  Things don’t go well for anybody.  Most of the bikers get eaten trying to steal stuff.  One gets killed trying to play a game that involves checking your blood pressure.  This is not a good reason to die!  Not even in the 70’s.  In the end it was greed that brought everything down.  Consumerism was painted as the ultimate evil.  But I did like that they exact cause of the zombies was never disclosed.  There were a few theories thrown around.  From those theories the most famous line from any zombie movie, or possibly any movie ever, was born.  “When there’s no more room in hell the dead will walk the Earth.”  Beautiful isn’t it.  Well I think that’s all I have for now on this movie.  This movie was like a mosaic.  It wasn’t one picture but rather dozens of small scenes all amazing in their own way that make this picture a work of art.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

The Beer:
Aroma – 10/10
Appearance – 4/5
Taste – 10/10
Palate – 5/5
   Overall – 19/20
Total = 48/50

The Movie:
Production – 5/5
Plot – 5/5
Gore – 5/5
Zombies – 5/5
 Overall – 5/5


  1. Zombies and beer! The perfect mix. Give Gaylen Ross a bit of a break, it was the seventies and it made a change for ladies not to be running around screaming. Great review though (of both products) :)

  2. While i still don't think she's Sigourney Weaver awesome i will say that your right. At least she's not the subservient and mostly useless 70's female lead. Look at how far we've come. Gaylen Ross to Angelina Jole. My my my.