10. Dawn of the Dead
directed by George Romero
Very few horror movies actually make you feel like you’ve gone somewhere, but George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead definitely takes viewers on a journey. Whereas most movies in the genre are about the beginning of something terrible, this movie is about people trying to learn to live with it. It begins with bedlam in a news station as we’re led to believe the fight against the undead isn’t going very well and that people are still more concerned with ratings than actually getting things accomplished. The small band of heroes sets out on their own to find somewhere they can call their own, eventually settling on “one of those new indoor malls.” Much talk has been given about Dawn being a comment on the consumer culture, but more than that, it’s about the emptiness of the American Dream. While fighting for the mall, the four people have a purpose and even sacrifice one of their own to secure that purpose, but once they have it, this ideal wherein they have every material possession they could ever possibly want, they’re bored and full of malaise. The zombies are nothing more than the reminder of what people should be striving against; that mindless wanting and go-with-the-flow shuffling through life is ultimately fruitless. Romero’s best film is not only a spot-on criticism of this ideal, but also a call for people to make something of their lives, whatever it might be, even if it’s just not trying to keep up with the Joneses. And the gore effects are awesome.