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.
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…