Dawn of the Dead
March 19, 2004
On the Big Board
|This movie is so hot it makes me want to grab a shotgun and head down to the cemetery.
|The rare remake that can stand alongside its original.
|Two words: zombie baby.
|Serviceable horror movie
They're making a Living Dead movie without George Romero. And it’s not a parody.
Is that allowed?
Seriously, the filmmakers behind this remake of the second of George Romero’s Living Dead trilogy are not only well aware of the rather daunting task they face in remaking such a classic film, they are quite intent on making a good film. A really good film.
To this end, they’ve hired not only rather an A-list of actors for a horror film, but they’ve worked to create a script that retains the basic elements of the original while simultaneously updating it and not destroying it. Not an easy task, and it’s a high-wire act that the company, all fans of the original film and the horror genre, seem more than happy to perform. This remake is not an attempt to “improve” the original - almost always a bad idea - but rather to take advantage of all the advances in special-effects technology and create a product that complements and, hopefully, enhances the first Dawn of the Dead. Certainly they are going all-out on the effects, with some fantastic gags to delight the fan of zombified gore.
The plot in the latest iteration begins in an idyllic neighborhood. Some unknown chain of events causes things to go terribly wrong, meaning that a neighbor girl shows up in a happy couple's home. Trouble is, she's a zombie. To the dismay of the wife (Sarah Polley), the zombie girl eats the man of the house, so Polley departs in terror. In time, she discovers some Mekhi Phifer and Ving Rhames types who have had similar recent misfortunes.
The group falls back to the most secure fortress they can think up while fleeing in terror: a mall. Apparently, none of the remaining humans ever worked at such a location, so they never noticed all of those pesky entrances everywhere. As you might imagine, the hungry-for-human-brains zombies surround the place. Then the DNA-mutated mindless baddies proceed to explore gaps in the human defenses, exemplified by lots of shattering glass and loud noises followed by some ominous-sounding gutteral utterances from the predators and screams of terror from what remains of the city's population. Dawn of the Dead was one of the first movies to define this genre, so it's only fitting that the remake sticks with what works.
With a resurgence in horror films in general, and zombie films in particular, in recent years, it seems the timing is right for another visit to the world of brain-eating creatures terrorizing what may well be the last remnants of the human race, ironically trapped in a shopping mall. Universal, home of monsters for almost three-quarters of a century, knows how to promote a horror film, and with their marketing support, the film has a shot at a decent opening. What will make or break the film is word-of-mouth, as critical approbation or repudiation has little effect on horror films. If the opening weekend crowd reports that the film has achieved its makers’ desire to create an engaging and thought-provoking thrill ride of a film that honors the first Dawn of the Dead, then the dead should walk the Earth for quite some time. (Stephanie Star Smith and David Mumpower/BOP)
Vital statistics for Dawn of the Dead
Mekhi Phifer, Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Kevin Zegers
Ty Burrell, Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood, Michael Kelly, Hannah Lochner, Matt Frewer, Irina Korobkina
|Click Here for Trailer
| Matt Kinney reviews Dawn of the Dead
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Comparison films for Dawn of the Dead
|28 Days Later
|Army of Darkness
|Night of the Living Dead