When talking about 1978’s Dawn of the Dead it’s fair to call it a masterpiece. The late and great George A. Romero really delivered a triumph in horror. The social commentary elements that he had touched upon in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. Were absolutely embraced and proudly flaunted in the sequel. It is in fact considered by most to be the best zombie film ever made. Period. Which is why in 2003 when I first heard that someone was going to attempt to remake Dawn of the Dead…I didn’t take it well.
I don’t think I was the only one that was kind of flipping their wig at the news. Furthermore I can recall being at work, sitting in the back office when I read the news. All joking aside my reaction was actually quite a bit like that GIF from The Office. Then I started doing a little research. I hadn’t ever heard of Zack Snyder although I do believe this was his directorial debut.
But James Gunn…now that is a name I knew thanks to 2000’s The Specials and 2002’s Scooby-Doo.
Which wasn’t exactly a strong selling point for most fans of the 1978 version. Not even the fact that Gunn had written 1996’s Tromeo and Juliet as well as a pass on 2000’s Thir13en Ghosts calmed concerns. He’s gone on record that he literally received death threats over his involvement with the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Which is a pretty sad thing to have to share of course.
I certainly try my very best to keep an open mind about all movies. Leaving judgement as it were until I have at the very least been able to see the trailer. Having said that – this was a remake of Dawn of the Dead so I can be excused for being a little biased. The afternoon that it debuted online…it was with great hesitation that I hit play on the media player.
[Via] Scream Factory TV
After it was over I found myself kind of slowing nodding my head. Not all of my fears had been settled. It looked like the zombies were running instead of shambling. It seemed like they had taken the tight group of survivors from the 1978 version and greatly expanded it. On the other hand, their casting choices made me sit up and take notice. The feeling…or fear… of being sieged by the Dead also seemed to have been ramped up. As well as scenes of what definitely looked like normal life breaking down at the beginning of an zombie apocalypse.
Was I won over completely? No. But I certainly found myself more curious about seeing the finished product than I had been. So when it debuted on March 19th, 2004 – I had my seat at the second matinee. And when the end credits had rolled and the house lights were raised I walked out of the theater and bought a ticket for the next showing. I can honestly say I was blown away by how much I liked the film. Was it perfect? No. But it was INCREDIBLY entertaining to say the least. It was mean, had tons of dark comedy, and overall wanted to scare its audience.
To be fair, the film isn’t really that much of a remake of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. There are shared elements from both films of course. They are mostly cosmetic though on the whole. The mall being the central spot to which the survivors head to and fortify is there. And there are some cameos from the original film’s cast members. The 2004 remake really stands on its own if I am being totally honest.
So what is the basic plot of the remake? Ana, played by the powerhouse actress Sarah Polley, is rescued by a Police Officer named Kenneth (Ving Rhames). They shortly come across a trio of survivors. Michael, who is hands down my favorite character and played by Jake Weber. As well as Andre (Mekhi Phifer) and Luda (Inna Korobkina), a young couple with a baby on the way. The group takes refugee in the Cross Roads Mall but not before having a confrontation with the mall’s security force. You have racist CJ (Michael Kelly), his lackey Bart (Michael Barry) and the younger and more reasonable Terry (Kevin Zegers).
As it seems that no help is coming, the group end up settling in for a long haul. Soon the group’s number grows with new survivors. Nicole (Lindy Booth), Tucker (Boyd Banks), Glen (R.D. Reid), Monica (Kim Poirier), and Norma (Jayne Eastwood). Oh, there is also the absolutely delightfully sarcastic and scene stealing Steve Marcus, played by Ty Burrell.
Zak Snyder’s direction is on point. Sharp and literally in your face in some scenes. The film doesn’t pull any punches in it’s depiction of the zombie apocalypse either. When everything starts to break down as you know it will. You will care about the characters and their fates.
Just like they did with George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, Scream Factory is unleashing a Collector’s Edition of 2004’s Dawn of the Dead. A 2-Disc Blu-Ray set offering both the theatrical as well as unrated cut of the film. Including of course a ton of extra features.
- Theatrical Version HD Master Derived From The Digital Intermediate Archival Negative
- Take A Chance On Me – An Interview With Actor Ty Burrell
- Gunn For Hire – An Interview With Writer James Gunn
- Punk, Rock, & Zombie – An Interview With Actor Jake Weber
- Killing Time At The Mall: The Special Effects Of Dawn Of The Dead – An Interview With Special
- Makeup Effects Artists David Anderson And Heather Langenkamp Anderson (Yes, Nightmare on Elm Street’s Langenkamp!)
- Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Zach Snyder And Producer Eric Newman
- Theatrical Trailer
- Still Gallery
- Unrated Version HD Master Derived From The Digital Intermediate Archival Negative With HD Inserts
- Audio Commentary With Director Zach Snyder And Producer Eric Newman
- Splitting Headaches: Anatomy Of Exploding Heads
- Attack Of The Living Dead
- Raising The Dead
- Andy’s Lost Tape
- Special Report: Zombie Invasion
- Undead And Loving It: A Mockumentary
- Drawing The Dead Featurette
- Storyboard Comparisons
- Hidden Easter Egg
You can pre-order your copy of the Dawn of the Dead Collector’s Edition by visiting Scream Factory. Or instead you can pick it up on Halloween before you head out to engage in spooky festivities!
Remember while watching Dawn of the Dead on Halloween to make sure it is actually trick-or-treaters outside your door!