Monday, January 28, 2013

MOVIE MUSIC MOMENT: WHEN THE MAN COMES AROUND / DAWN OF THE DEAD



"When the Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash
as seen/heard in
Dawn of the Dead (2004)

It's after a methodically paced turned downright terrifying opening sequence that the opening credits begin in Zack Snyder's directorial debut, "Dawn of the Dead." This is a 21st-Century remake of the George A. Romero zombie classic. The blood-on-glass blown credits over a helpless black are juxtaposed with all manner of news and archival footage. The audio commences with an eerie chanting, heartbeats, shrieking, and a CDC press conference coverage... And then a strong storm rises from the horribleness: Johnny Cash playing and singing "When the Man Comes Around."

You'll listen to the lyrics in a way you never previously have when it's used in conjunction with our world on the brink of a zombie apocalypse. The Biblical prophecies strike chords as sure as Cash's guitar. The music stops and Cash recites a few last lines of scripture as the credits for writer (James Gunn) and director (Zack Snyder) are shown - this is cut with one last zombie making his way past guards, to a reporter and then right at the camera itself... This assemblage of visual and auditory elements effectively uneases the audience as the rest of story begins. The first time I saw the montage I've just described it instantly became one of my favorite opening credit sequences. Art of the Title also covered the opening (and ending) credits of this underrated horror flick.

There are plenty of other memorable song choices in "Dawn of the Dead" (including a lounge version of "Down with the Sickness" set to another montage). "When the Man Comes Around" also received great use in just last year's"Killing Them Softly." Those will have to await another edition of Movie Music Moment! Please feel free to share your reaction to this week's or reveal one of your own in the comments below.

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