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Dawn of the Brain Dead

The past week I’ve been “researching” a feature story I’m writing on the “I Am Legend” mini-genre of Last Man on Earth flicks by watching DVDs featuring plagues, cosmic catastrophes, climactic disasters, devastating technological snafus, nuclear warfare and, of course, rampaging zombies. I watched “Omega Man” again, with a hip Charlton Heston, now senile NRA spokesman, blasting away at black-robed ghouls with a tommy gun. What fun, and what a great guy to have around in a pinch.

Next I watched the remake of Robert Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead,” in which heavily armed survivors hole up in a mall blasting away at the undead out for their blood. I noted what a fetishistic filmmaker Zak Snyder is (what’s with all these slow-motion, close-up shots of discharged cartridge casings hitting the floor?) and how much the reptitious head shots look like a video game. So I turned on CNN only to tune into a press conference with authorities in Omaha, Nebraska  answering questions about the 19-year-old who went on a shooting rampage with an AK-47 in a local shopping mall, killing eight innocent strangers before turning the gun on himself.

What an interesting coincidence, I thought. Then two things occurred to me:

1. It won’t be long before blowhard pundits and opportunistic political candidates dismiss liberal weenie arguments that the perp was a victim of a dehumanizing child care system and put the blame squarely where it belongs, on violent video games and movies like “Dawn of the Dead.”

2. True, access to assault rifles and other lethal weaponry might result in the occasional whack-job laying waste to a shopping mall or university campus. But when the ravenous zombie hordes start coming your way, you’ll thank God and Charlton Heston for your right to bear arms.


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Peter Keough tosses away all pretenses of objectivity, good taste and sanity and writes what he damn well pleases under the guise of a film blog.

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