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For Imagination Connoisseur Bob Connally, the movie DAWN OF THE DEAD helped him re-connect to the horror genre in a way he did not expect. Plus Bob weighs in on the films that affected his life and on Steve Martin’s 75th birthday.

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Hi, Rob.

I loved hearing your story about seeing “Dawn of the Dead” for the first time and your unrelenting love of it for the past 41 years.

I first saw “Dawn” in 2004, renting the DVD when I was in college. At the time (and even for quite awhile afterwards), I was not a particularly big fan of horror movies. There were exceptions, but for the most part it was a genre I didn’t enjoy.

It wasn’t that I found horror movies too scary, it’s that I had gotten the impression from my limited experience that most horror films tended not to care about their characters. Characters in many horror movies seemed to exist just to be killed in the most gruesome way possible.

If a movie doesn’t care about its characters, then why should I?

It was apparent though that “Dawn” was different. I felt invested in Peter, Fran, Stephen, and Roger from the get go and the moment Roger got bitten, I felt crushed. Even after more viewings than I can count, it hurts me every time. Yes, “Dawn of the Dead” is an incredible, groundbreaking piece of maverick filmmaking with sly wit and smart social commentary, but Romero and the cast rarely seem to get credit for giving us characters that we really care about.

Over time I came to have a greater appreciation of horror and look at it now like it’s anything else.

There are good and bad examples of every kind of movie. Still though, “Dawn” remains my absolute favorite horror film I’ve ever seen and the better zombie makeup effects of today don’t matter nearly as much to me as the filmmaking, storytelling, and character drama that Romero masterfully put into that movie.

Like you, I also really enjoy “Knightriders,” which has maybe the coolest premise any movie has ever had: jousting on motorcycles! The movie’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a lot of fun and clearly heartfelt.

Movie Memories

You also asked what movies left impressions on us and have stuck with us since childhood. There are quite a few for me, but probably the two biggest are “Ghostbusters” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

Being born in ’82, I didn’t see “Ghostbusters” until it was on VHS when I got it for my 6th birthday. A few months later, my dad took my brother and me to see “Roger Rabbit” at the Oak Tree theater in Seattle and I still remember going that day. The thing that makes both of those movies so special to me now isn’t simply nostalgia. Nostalgia doesn’t have the kind of hold on me where I can convince myself that a bad movie is good.

I love those movies now for entirely different reasons than I did as a 6-year old. I get so much more out of them now while still being able to cherish the memories I have of seeing them for the first time.

Happy Birthday, Steve Martin

Finally, in honor of Steve Martin’s 75th birthday I want to recommend to everyone out there my favorite of his movies, 1991’s “L.A. Story.”

While it is a satire about a very specific time and place that most people didn’t experience first hand (myself included), Martin’s screenplay speaks to every outsider’s stereotypical beliefs about Los Angeles in a way that the comedy translates wonderfully to intelligent audiences.

It’s a movie that manages to weave critical and sometimes very cynical humor with a true sense of joy and hope. It’s an extraordinary movie that is too often overlooked.

Thank you for reading this, Rob. Hope your day is perfect, baby. Perfect.

– Bob C.