LOUISVILLE LOVES HORROR #5: Tony Ash of American Lesions LOVES Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Tony Ash has continued to be an important “scene-staple” in Louisville as he has continued to aggressively play guitar and bass in countless punk and indie rock bands since the mid/late 1990’s. This year, two of the bands that he’s currently a member of have brand spankin’ new releases. A few months ago American Lesions released their debut 7inch Woundlicker, a blisteringly loud rock and roll record that we Never Nervous-ites are pretty high on (read our review here). He’s also featured on the latest Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends record The Art Of Murder which contains a fine collection of grungy punk rock tunes straight out of the early 90’s. Both of these quality records can be found physically at Modern Cult Records, or if the brick-and-mortar approach ain’t your thing these releases are available for purchase online as well, tangibly and digitally.

Considering that he’s a fan of scary movies, we reached out to Tony to see if he’d be willing to talk about one of his own personal favorite horror films as part of our LOUISVILLE LOVES HORROR series; thankfully he was kind enough to not only respond with an awesome retrospective to one of my own favorite films, but he also submitted a cool photograph of himself posing next to the flick’s movie poster at the now-defunct legendary video rental store Wild & Woolly complete with a nice little story involving the film’s director. Fuckin’ A.


Let me put this out there right off the bat: George Romero‘s Dawn of the Dead is the greatest zombie film ever made. Period. It has so many elements that I love in one gloriously horrific package, including a superb soundtrack by Goblin and excellent special effects courtesy of Tom Savini. In the sprawling landscape of horror films, from the all-time classics to the shittiest of the shit, this one will forever be a staple for me. If we’re playing the “desert island” game and I’m stranded on said island with nothing but electricity, a TV, a DVD player and one horror movie to watch for the rest of my days, it would be Dawn of the Dead, without a doubt.

Dawn kicks off presumably in the days or weeks after the events of Romero’s original classic Night of the Living Dead. Society is beginning to crumble as the zombie phenomenon rapidly spreads. In the tense opening scenes we are introduced to what will be the film’s four protagonists: Fran, Roger, Peter and Steven, aka “Flyboy,” who is a helicopter pilot for the local news station. Together, they flee a city engulfed in chaos, hoping that the outbreak hasn’t spread elsewhere.

Our four main characters: Fran, Steven, Peter & Roger.

After tirelessly and unsuccessfully searching for any sort of safe haven from the ever-growing legions of the living dead, they happen upon an abandoned shopping mall, in which they set up camp to catch a much-needed break. It quickly occurs to the group that the mall has everything they could ever need or want to survive, and that they shouldn’t necessarily be in any hurry to leave. Food, clothing, entertainment, weapons, cash (“You never know,” as Peter tells Flyboy while they raid the bank), etc.

I have to interject here: this is the craziest fucking mall I’ve personally ever heard of in my life. I don’t know of any mall anywhere that has a grocery store AND a fully stocked firearms store alongside JC Penney. Maybe Mall of America in Minnesota, which has a roller coaster for god’s sake. But I digress…

I don’t want to go much further with the details of the plot for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie. Which, if you haven’t, what the hell is the matter with you? Go watch it right now! This is Romero’s masterpiece in my humble opinion. Night of the Living Dead set the bar, and Dawn pole vaulted right over it. The story is solid. You care about and root for the characters to beat the odds and survive the apocalypse happening all around them. It has a thick layer of 70’s vibe, sleaze and cheese that permeates every single shot (this is a compliment). The numerous scenes of zombies aimlessly wandering the mall, clamoring at the doors and gates to get into the stores as a monotone recorded voice announces the sales and deals of the day are pure genius and, to anyone who has seen or ever been involved in the annual nationwide Black Friday retail clusterfuck, it hits way too close to home.

Several years ago, I was at band practice when a friend called me and told me that George Romero was in town, was at that moment making a quick surprise appearance at Wild and Woolley Video and to get there immediately. I left practice, sped home, ripped my beloved Dawn poster off the wall, and hauled ass to W&W, hoping I wasn’t too late. As I parked, I saw George with his thick black frame glasses and long gray ponytail exiting the store with a large crowd of admirers gathered around to see and meet the man himself. I approached and nervously asked something along the lines of ‘Mr. Romero, it’s so great to meet you, Dawn of the Dead is one of my favorite movies, would you mind signing my poster?’ He was apparently late to a family dinner somewhere nearby and understandably seemed eager to be on his way, but he smiled and gladly obliged. He signed my poster, shook my hand, and disappeared down Baxter Avenue. What a class act.

Thank you George for making one of the coolest movies of all time.