Dawn Of The Dead (2004) Review

I’m re-posting this now so that I can post my Army Of The Dead review tomorrow.

This is a review I did as a guest on another blog a long time ago. I’ve sadly lost contact with the people running a lot of the blogs I wrote for in the past, so I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite guest reviews here before the blogs also disappear. As this is a favorite film of mine & as I often tweet this review, it made sense to finally re-post it here after the release of Zack Snyder’s Army Of The Dead.

This was originally written for Mike at Screenkicker for the Screenkicker Olympics, a great blogathon in which people discussed something movie-related from where they grew up or where they now live. So I chose Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead to represent Wisconsin. You can read the original post HERE, which contains an intro as well but I’ll get straight to the review below…

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Directed by Zack Snyder

Screenplay by James Gunn

Based on Dawn of the Dead by George A Romero

Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Ty Burrell, Kevin Zegers, Mekhi Phifer

Running time: 100 minutes/110 minutes (Director’s Cut)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Dawn of the Dead is a remake of George A Romero’s 1978 film of the same name. The film depicts a handful of human survivors living in a shopping mall located in the fictional town of Everett, Wisconsin surrounded by swarms of zombies.

My Opinion:

I love zombies. I loved zombies before they were cool, dammit! It’s like those Grateful Dead fans who became fans after Touch Of Grey – What do they call them? Touch Heads? Where am I going with this – I don’t even like The Grateful Dead. Well… I like that “Drivin’ that train, high on cocaine” song! And Touch Of Grey. 😉 And I’ve loved zombies since I first watched Romero’s amazing Night Of The Living Dead and then Dawn Of The Dead (1978), which is just as amazing in a different way and is now one of my all-time favorite movies. Then, in 2004, it was remade. Those who know me may have seen me ranting about how much remakes piss me off! Especially of my favorite movies. So how do I feel about Wisconsin boy Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead remake…?

I love it! There’s a shopping mall and, of course, zombies. But otherwise this feels like a whole new movie – A reimagining as opposed to an inferior copy (like the 2013 Carrie remake – it wasn’t horrible but was completely pointless). 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead gave us lots of varied characters, zombies we couldn’t outrun, a cool spot-the-celebrity-lookalike-zombie game, Disturbed, and a very different feel from the Romero zombie flicks.

I think what works for me, more than anything, are the characters in the film. They feel real. Sure you have a couple of assholes but even they feel like your typical every day assholes as opposed to the psychotic murdering rapist types you get in other post-apocalyptic movies. Okay – things have only just begun (I mean, the world goes to hell in this in just a few hours!) but I like to think we wouldn’t all turn into complete assholes quite so quickly after an apocalypse. The characters help each other and you find yourself liking a lot of them. They’re as developed as they need to be for a horror movie (actually, they’re very well developed as far as horror movies go, where we usually just get a bunch of idiotic girls with big tits dying in various ways). Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, and Jake Weber are the highlights for me (I had a crush on Jake Weber in this – I’d totally hook up with him in a zombie apocalypse). But even all the lesser characters in this are memorable, such as tough old lady Norma & father/daughter Lindy Booth and… Max Headroom! (Does anyone younger than me know Max Headroom?). Michael Kelly is perfect for his character as he has such a “hey, it’s that guy!” look about him. And I especially love gun-store Andy and all the interaction with him on the rooftop – those are probably my favorite bits of the movie.

I’ll wrap this up but first I have to make a mention of the music & the cameos. I loved the great cameos from original Dawn Of The Dead stars Scott H. Reiniger, Tom Savini (giving yet another Oscar-worthy performance) & especially Ken Foree as a televangelist. And it was nice seeing the “Gaylen Ross” store in the mall. Finally, they did a great job choosing the music in the film. I read at IMDb that Snyder personally chose most of the music, including The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash & Richard Cheese’s cover of Down With The Sickness so… Good job, Snyder! Those worked perfectly. Also loved the elevator music such as Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Have A Nice Day by Stereophonics was a perfect way to start the movie. And the proper Disturbed version of Down With The Sickness at the end is fine by me as I think that’s one of the best songs of the past 15 years. (*2021 update: That song is much more than 15 years old now and man I feel old having to type this*)

All in all, there’s not really anything that I don’t like about this movie. I’m not sure how I feel about the very end (through the credits) but I find that most horror films don’t know how to end. As far as horror movies go, this is a hell of a lot better than most. And as far as zombie movies go, this was definitely a worthy addition and, more importantly, respectful to the original.

My Rating: 8.5/10

I was going to end this post with a clip of Disturbed’s Down With The Sickness but decided to go with Johnny Cash’s fantastic The Man Comes Around instead. And this will be the only time you will find country music on this blog…

**And I apologise in advance for when I re-post my review of Brian Yuzna’s brilliant body horror Society, which I posted on another old blog HERE.

R.I.P. George A. Romero 

I was very sad to hear of George A. Romero’s passing. He’s a true master of horror and his Dead films have never been topped, although many have tried to copy them.

I’ve always wanted to review Night, Dawn & Day Of The Dead but never have as I always struggle to write about my all-time favorite films. Dawn Of The Dead is one of a very small handful of horrors that I consider to be all around favorite films despite being within the horror genre. I’m sad now that the only Romero film I’ve reviewed is Monkey Shines (which was a lot of fun to review!). It’s certainly no Dawn Of The Dead, though, which has topped many top ten lists that I’ve posted (such as My Top Ten Horror Movies & My Top Ten Horror Movie Quotes). Heck, I even managed to review the Dawn Of The Dead remake for Mike over at Screenkicker. Yet no review of the original. The best. I’ve never reviewed Romero’s TRUE ZOMBIE CLASSICS Night Of The Living Dead & Dawn Of The Dead. Or Day Of The Dead! Also love Day. And now we’re stuck watching the inferior The Walking Dead while humanity turns into a Romero mall zombie. The horror legends are dying. It sucks.

Rest in peace George Andrew Romero
February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017

Oh, here’s an odd recommendation but Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, has a great short story in his collection 20th Century Ghosts called Bobby Conroy Comes Back From The Dead. It’s a love story, of sorts, between two extras on the set of Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead. Loved it! I highly recommend the entire book – it’s a fantastic short story collection.

**Seriously? I just finish this post then read that Martin Landau has died as well. I must admit that I didn’t know him from much but did love him as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. His Oscar for that was well deserved!

Rest in peace Martin Landau
June 20, 1928 – July 15, 2017

My Top Ten Horror Movies Of The 21st Century

**This list was updated March 2019 for a lot of new additions. There have been some fantastic horror films the last couple of years.**

It’s probably obvious to regular readers that I’m rarely a fan of modern day horror films. I’m sure I come across as quite picky since my ratings for current horror films, even ones I seemed to enjoy, are usually pretty low. I’d never call horror my favorite genre (it’s sci-fi) but that’s probably because there are far more bad films within this genre than in any other. But when a genuinely good horror comes along, I love it! Unfortunately, the good ones have just been few & far between since about 1987 (when the awesome A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was released). 😉

So, even though horror films of the Seventies & Eighties will forever be my favorites, I wanted to prove that I have actually liked a few since 1987. However, most of the movies on this list still come nowhere near the genius of things like The Shining & The Omen but there’s been an improvement in the quality of horror releases the past couple of years. Hopefully this continues.

One quick note: I’VE EXCLUDED HORROR COMEDIES! When working on this list, I ended up with lots of them as I’ve liked so many since the year 2000. As I already did a list of My Top Ten Horror Comedies, I’ve decided to leave them out to keep things simple. I’m also leaving out some films I like that I don’t consider horror and see more as “thrillers”, such as my guilty pleasure The Purge films & the excellent Battle Royale, and some monster movies like Cloverfield & The Host. I’ve also left out Slither, which I put into My Top Ten Body Horror Movies list.

So, here are My Top Ten 21st Century Horror Movies counting down to my favorite (but let’s be annoying & make it a Top 20…):

TOP TWENTY:

20. The Secret Of Marrowbone
19. The House Of The Devil
18. Ginger Snaps
17. [Rec]
16. Land Of The Dead
15. Gerald’s Game
14. The Others
13. Final Destination
12. A Quiet Place
11. The Orphanage

TOP TEN:

10. TIE: A Tale Of Two Sisters & Let The Right One In

9. The Descent

8. Mandy

7. The Mist

6. 28 Days (& Weeks) Later…

5. It Follows

4. Train To Busan

3. It (2017)

2. The Babadook

1. Dawn Of The Dead

Some Honorable Mentions:
Saw (first film only – hate the rest)
The Conjuring
The Innkeepers
The Boy
Absentia
Honeymoon
The Wailing
Pontypool
Hereditary
Us

My Top Ten Horror Movie Scores & Soundtracks

A movie’s score and/or soundtrack of songs is extremely important to me as I think the right music can make a good movie into a great one or even a bad movie into a cult classic. When you think of the biggest Oscar films, almost all of them had award winning scores from highly respected composers. When I think of my own personal all-time favorite movies, the majority have brilliant scores that helped to suck me into that magical movie world that only the very best composers can help create. Can you imagine The Good, The Bad And The Ugly without Ennio Morricone’s amazing score??

I’m very picky when it comes to the horror genre & have loved very few horror films since the 70s & 80s. I do find it interesting that most of my all-time favorite old horrors are on this list of scores, though. It goes to show that they used to put so much more effort into these films than they do now, even down to the scores (but I do have a couple fairly current films on the list too). I think the score is even more important in horrors as the mood & atmosphere are fundamental to this genre. I don’t understand why so many modern horrors put so little effort into using a score effectively to create the right mood. Oh well – this genre is showing more promise again so maybe we’ll see a return to great horror scores.

More than anything, I love a good musical score that has been composed for a film but do also appreciate when a soundtrack of great songs, whether existing or new, are put together for a movie’s soundtrack. So my top ten will consist of scores but there are a few horror soundtracks that I really love so I didn’t want to exclude them.

Here are a few Horror Movie Soundtracks That I Love:

Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Composer: AC/DC

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Composer: Danny Elfman

The Lost Boys (1987)
Composer: Thomas Newman Score/Various Artists Soundtrack:

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Composer: Tyler Bates Score/Various Artists Soundtrack

And now onto My Top Ten Horror Movie Scores (and their composers):

Honorable Mentions:

The Fog (1980)
Composer: John Carpenter
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Composer: Krzysztof Komeda
The Shining (1980)
Composer: Wendy Carlos/Rachel Elkind
The Omen (1976)
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Top Ten:

10. TIE: 28 Days Later… (2002)
Composer: John Murphy
AND
It Follows (2014)
Composer: Disasterpeace

9. Psycho (1960)
Composer: Bernard Herrmann

8. Jaws (1975)
Composer: John Williams

7. The Thing (1982)
Composer: Ennio Morricone/John Carpenter/Alan Howarth

6. Suspiria (1977) (but also want to mention Deep Red here, which is great too)
Composer: Dario Argento/Goblin

5. Mandy (2018)
Composer: Jóhann Jóhannsson

4. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Composer: Charles Bernstein

3. The Exorcist (1973)
Composer: Mike Oldfield

2. Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
Composer: Goblin/Dario Argento/De Wolfe Music Library

1. Halloween (1978)
Composer: John Carpenter

My Top Ten Horror Movie Quotes

Happy October everyone! Let’s kick off this month of horror with a top ten list of my favorite horror movie quotes. 🙂

I fully expect to have missed some with this list (I don’t re-watch horror movies to the degree that I watch favorites from other genres) but I’ve tried to pick the first quotes that popped into my head from my favorites. Oh, and I’ve never considered the Alien films or Jaws to be horror, FYI, so you won’t find “Get away from her, you bitch!” or “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” on this list. Those would top the list.

So here are my mainstream & super obvious Top Ten Horror Movie Quotes:

10. “If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.”

As Heard In: The Babadook

I loved The Babadook – it was one of the very few horror films after 1989 that didn’t totally suck. Anyway, nothing is more freaky than that damn book and this is a cool rhyme (even though it doesn’t actually rhyme if you have an American accent…).

9. “The soil in a man’s heart is stonier.”

As Heard In: Pet Sematary

This is probably my only choice on this list that’s not totally predictable. I don’t know why but I had a slight obsession with this movie when it came out – it probably helped going & seeing it with a group of friends (I assume it was rated R? I actually wasn’t old enough. Hmm). Plus, one girl would shout out “PASCOW!” at school for months after seeing this. Anyway, “Sometimes dead is better” is probably the more famous line but the above quote, said by two characters, is more important to the story & the one I always liked.

8. “They’re all gonna laugh at you!”

As Heard In: Carrie

I also love “I can see your dirty pillows.” Ha! Dirty pillows! Carrie’s mom is such a nutjob. Yeah, I like my Stephen King movies…

7. “You are all my children now.”

As Heard In: A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge

Oh man, there are SO many A Nightmare On Elm Street quotes to choose from! Funny I’ve chosen one from my least favorite & least watched of the series. In fact, I was like “does he say that in number 2??”. It’s just such a well known Freddy line. I was also always fond of “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” and Nancy’s “Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep“. Well, I have another one higher on the list.

6. TIE: “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach; all the damn vampires.” & “Death by stereo!” & “My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire!”

As Heard In: The Lost Boys

Dammit, there are also so many quotes in The Lost Boys! I’m also fond of saying “Maggots, Michael. You’re eating maggots.” anytime we have Chinese food. Goddamn I must be shit-sucking annoying to live with.

5. “They’re here!”

As Heard In: Poltergeist

Well, duh. So obvious. But you all immediately knew what it was from!

4. “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door. Five, six, grab your crucifix. Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. Nine, ten, never sleep again…”

As Heard In: A Nightmare On Elm Street

I’m a sucker for rhymes or creepy lyrics to the tune of some kids’ song. “One, two, buckle my shoe” will only bring the above lyrics to mind for a generation of Freddy fans now. Or, maybe more than one generation – you young kids seem to like this one too!

3. “Heeere’s Johnny!”

As Heard In: The Shining

Again, like the Poltergeist quote, this one is super obvious. But The Shining is my favorite horror movie (along with The Omen, the Nightmare On Elm Streets & the series that my top two are a part of) so it’s naturally going to be high on my list. Guess that’s three Stephen King movies on my list (even though he hates this movie).

2. “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”

As Heard In: Night Of The Living Dead

I love Romero’s zombie movies (yes, even Day, Land and Diary. but especially Day!). The Barbara (it’s spelled “Barbra” on IMDB but that just looks weird) line has to be the most famous Romero line & the one I quote the most by far, unlike my number one choice. But number one is just so damn cool

1. “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.”

As Heard In: Dawn Of The Dead

Love it. I don’t find this to be a very “quotable” quote like most of those on the list but it’s just such a great line. And I also love it being said by once again by Ken Foree in the (also totally excellent) 2004 remake. I suppose it’s somewhat quotable – you could say things like “When there’s no more room in hell, the Kardashians will walk the Earth“. Or something. Nah, that doesn’t really work – someone come up with something better! Well, I love these movies & keep saying every year that I’ll review the whole lot in October but never do. Maybe next year! 😉

Dawn Of The Dead (2004) Review

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Mike over at Screenkicker has been running the Screenkicker Olympics, a great blogathon in which people have discussed something movie-related from where they grew up or where they now live. It’s been a really fun blogathon & I’ve enjoyed reading all the entries & voting for the best actors & actresses from around the world in a series of polls (I voted for Chris Hemsworth several times but I don’t think it counted all my extra votes!). Thanks for letting me join in on the fun, Mike! 🙂

Anyway, I chose the 2004 flesh-eating zombie film Dawn Of The Dead to represent my home state. You can read my review HERE. 🙂

Oh, and, what the hell? Are there seriously so few other Twilight Zone lovers?! That show was AWESOME! Here are my All-Time Top Ten TV Shows if you missed it.

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My Top Ten Horror Movies

Happy Halloween! I guess I better do this now, then. Below are my Top Ten Horror Movies.

This was difficult. In order to do this, I’ve decided to leave a couple films out which are favorites of mine because I don’t exactly see them as “horror” films…

Alien/Aliens (Two of my favorite films. I don’t think “horror” with these – I think sci-fi)
Jaws (Again, I just think “classic blockbuster”)

So here are my Top Ten Horror Movies counting down from ten:

10. Carrie

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9. An American Werewolf In London

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8. Poltergeist

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7. Halloween

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6. The Thing

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5. A Nightmare On Elm Street (whole series but the first movie obviously the best by far)

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4. Psycho

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3. The Omen

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2. The Shining

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1. Dawn Of The Dead, Night Of The Living Dead, Day Of The Dead (I love Romero)

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Honorable Mentions:

Rosemary’s Baby
Don’t Look Now
28 Days Later
Let The Right One In
The Orphanage
Slither
April Fool’s Day
Friday The 13th (first two)
Child’s Play (first three)
The Descent
The Changeling
Fright Night (original)
The Lost Boys (if I was honest this would be top ten but I see it as more of a teen movie)
Night Of The Comet
Chopping Mall (yep)
It
Pet Sematary (screw it – most every movie based on a Stephen King story)
Society
The Birds

Les Miserables

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Just saw Les Miserables. My mascara was a mess by the time it finished. Everyone was crying & sniffling. Someone even clapped. I had to get to the bathroom quick to fix my mess of a face.

You’re thinking “Wow – she was really moved!”. Not exactly. My hubby leaned over & cracked a joke at an inappropriate time about 30 minutes before the end and I spent the final half hour trying to suppress a massive giggling fit and wiping away tears of laughter while surrounded by people who were taking the movie very seriously. So, thanks hubby! At least you made Les Miserables less miserable for me. 😉

Don’t you think the girl in the poster looks a bit like Dawn Of The Dead girl?

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That’s what this movie needed – Zombies! Would have been more fun. Also needed a Scooby Doo ending, as my hubby pointed out half an hour before the end.

My Les Miserables haiku:

They sing and they cry
Die and still sing! This needs a
Scooby Doo ending

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My Rating: 6.5/10