Dawn of the Dead (2004 film)
|Dawn of the Dead|
Promotional poster, still under the original release date.
|Directed by||Zack Snyder|
|Produced by||Richard P. Rubinstein
|Screenplay by||James Gunn|
|Based on||Dawn of the Dead by George A. Romero|
|Music by||Tyler Bates|
|Cinematography||Matthew F. Leonetti|
|Editing by||Niven Howie|
New Amsterdam Entertainment
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||100 minutes|
Dawn of the Dead is a 2004 horror film directed by Zack Snyder in his feature film directorial debut. It is a remake of George A. Romero's 1978 film of the same name and stars Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, and Jake Weber. The film depicts a handful of human survivors living in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin shopping mall surrounded by swarms of zombies. The movie was produced by Strike Entertainment in association with New Amsterdam Entertainment, released by Universal Pictures and includes cameos by original cast members Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger and Tom Savini.
After finishing a long shift as a nurse, Ana (Sarah Polley) returns to her suburban Milwaukee neighborhood and her husband, Louis. Caught up in a scheduled date night the two miss an emergency news bulletin on television while having sex in the shower. The next morning, their infected neighbor's daughter, Vivian , enters their bedroom and kills Luis. Luis immediately reanimates as a zombie and attacks Ana. She flees in her car, but eventually crashes into a tree and is knocked unconscious when a bus driver attempts to hijack her car. Ana awakens and is met by policeman Kenneth Hall (Ving Rhames), who takes her with him. They meet up with a group including Michael (Jake Weber), Andre (Mekhi Phifer) and his pregnant wife, Luda. They decide to break into a nearby mall. While scouting the mall, they encounter several zombies. One zombie grabs Luda while another attacks Michael. They dispatch the zombies and decide to take the elevator to a higher floor. When the elevator opens, they are faced by C.J. (Michael Kelly), Bart, and Terry who make the group surrender their weapons in exchange for refuge.
The next day, a delivery truck carrying more survivors crashed into the parking lot. The survivors all meet on the mall roof to see what's happening. C.J. wishes to turn away the truck but is outnumbered when Terry sides with the new arrivals. C.J. and Bart are disarmed and locked in a holding cell while the others assist the people in the truck. They include Norma, Steve, Tucker, Monica, Glen, and Frank and his daughter, Nicole. Ana attends to their medical needs, and realizes that the disease is passed by bites. The group discusses what to do with Frank, who has been bitten and is a potential threat. Frank elects to be isolated until he dies and turns, and Kenneth shoots him.
A montage shows the survivors passing time in the mall and various relationships developing, including Kenneth and Andy starting a friendship by way of messages written on a whiteboard and romantic feelings between Ana and Michael. When the power goes out, C.J., Bart, Michael, and Kenneth head to the parking garage to activate the emergency generator. Andy is dying of starvation, so they gave dog named chip a good. They find a friendly dog but are attacked by zombies, who kill Bart. The remaining men are trapped in the generator compartment where they douse the zombies with gasoline and set them ablaze.
Ana, not having seen the pregnant Luda in a while, asks Andre if she can drop in on them. Andre refuses, telling Ana that everything is fine. Norma decides to take Andre and Luda some supplies and discovers Luda—who is now a zombie—tied to a bed. Luda gave birth to a zombie baby, which a deranged Andre shows off to Norma. Horrified, Norma kills Luda and is shot by Andre. The two exhange gunfire, with Andre dying on the bed and Norma collapsing with mortal wounds. Hearing the shots, the rest of the group arrives to find Luda's infected baby which they immediately kill. The remaining survivors decide they cannot stay in the mall any more and make a plan to fight their way to a nearby marina, where they will travel on Steve's boat to an island on Lake Michigan. They begin retrofitting and reinforcing two shuttle buses from the parking garage for their escape.
At the gun store, Andy is dying of starvation. The group straps a pack of food and a walkie-talkie onto the dog and lower him into the parking lot. The dog makes it to the store but a zombie gets in the door of the store before Andy can close it. Nicole panics for the dog and steals the delivery truck, crashing it in front of the gun store. She gets inside and is trapped by a zombified Andy. The group decide to head through the sewers to mount a rescue and also collect guns and ammo. They reach the gun store and save Nicole by killing Andy. On the trip back, Tucker falls into the sewer from the street and breaks both his legs. C.J. starts dragging him while he shoots at zombies, but they are too slow. Tucker asks C.J. to shoot him in the head, which C.J. does. Once inside they discover that Steve abandoned his post at the door and they are unable to get back in fast enough. The mall is flooded with zombies and they retreat, forcing an immediate evacuation.
Everyone piles into the buses and they navigate through the city. Glen loses control of a chainsaw, accidentally killing himself and Monica. The blood splatters on the windshield, causing Kenneth to crash the bus. A zombie attacks Steve as he tries to escape. C.J. exits the first van to look for crash survivors with Kenneth and Terry. They encounter the undead Steve but Ana kills him and retrieves his boat keys. At the marina, C.J. sacrifices himself by blowing up the bus so the others can reach the dock. Michael helps them cast off but reveals he was bitten and must stay behind. Ana tries to talk him into coming but he decides to stay and kill himself. Ana, Kenneth, Nicole, Terry and the dog board Steve's boat and sail off to the sound of a gunshot.
A montage of footage from a camcorder found on the boat begins with Steve's escapades before the outbreak, and concludes with the group running out of supplies before finally arriving at an island. They disembark and are attacked by another swarm of zombies. The film ends with the dropped camcorder recording dozens of zombies chasing them, leaving their fate unknown.
- Sarah Polley as Ana
- Ving Rhames as Kenneth
- Jake Weber as Michael
- Mekhi Phifer as Andre
- Inna Korobkina as Luda
- Michael Kelly as CJ
- Lindy Booth as Nicole
- Kevin Zegers as Terry
- Michael Barry as Bart
- Boyd Banks as Tucker
- R. D. Reid as Glen
- Kim Poirier as Monica
- Ty Burrell as Steve
- Jayne Eastwood as Norma
- Matt Frewer as Frank
- Bruce Bohne as Andy
- Blu as Chips the Dog
- Justin Louis as Luis
- Hannah Lochner as Vivian
- Tom Savini as Sheriff Cahill
- Scott Reiniger as The General
- Ermes Blarasin as Obese Woman
- Ken Foree as The Televangelist
- Dee Bradley Baker as Zombie Vocals
James Gunn is only partially responsible for the screenplay, despite receiving solo writing credit. After he left the project to concentrate on Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, both Michael Tolkin and Scott Frank were brought in for rewrites. In a commentary track on the Ultimate Edition DVD for the original George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, Richard P. Rubinstein, producer of both the original and the remake, explained that Tolkin further developed the characters, while Frank provided some of the bigger and upbeat action sequences.
The mall scenes of the film as well as the rooftop scenes were shot in the Thornhill Square Shopping Center in Thornhill, Ontario and the rest of the scenes were shot in the Aileen-Willowbrook Neighborhood of Thornhill, Ontario. The set for Ana and Louis's bedroom was constructed in a backroom of the mall. The mall was defunct, which is the reason the production used it; the movie crew completely renovated the structure, and stocked it with fictitious stores after Starbucks and numerous other corporations refused to let their names be used (two exceptions to this are Roots and Panasonic). Most of the mall was demolished shortly after the film was shot. The fictitious stores include a coffee shop called Hallowed Grounds (a lyric from Johnny Cash's song "The Man Comes Around", which was used over the opening credits), and an upscale department store called Gaylen Ross (an in-joke reference to one of the stars of the original 1978 film).
The first half of the film was shot almost entirely in chronological order, while the final sequences on the boat and island were shot much later and at a different location (Universal Studios Hollywood) than the rest of the movie, after preview audiences objected to the sudden ending of the original print.
Deleted scenes 
Deleted scenes were added back for the "Unrated Director's Cut" DVD edition. Along with gore effects removed to obtain an MPAA R rating, they include a clearer depiction of how the survivors originally break into the mall, and a short scene where the character of Glen regales the imprisoned C.J. and Bart with his reminiscing about his bisexual coming-of-age. The DVD also offers, as a bonus feature, several more scenes which were not included in any version of the film, including an expanded version of the fictional live broadcasts shown in the mall's televisions, which chronicles the worldwide effects of the zombie plague.
In the UK, Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead were originally scheduled to be released the same week, but due to the similarity in the names of the two films and plot outline, UIP opted to push back Shaun's release by two weeks. It was screened out of competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
The film received generally positive reviews. It currently holds a "Certified Fresh" rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes; the site's consensus calls the film "A kinetic, violent and surprisingly worthy remake of George Romero's horror classic that pays homage to the original while working on its own terms." Roger Ebert said the film "works and it delivers just about what you expect when you buy your ticket" but felt that it "lacks the mordant humor of the Romero version" and the "plot flatlines compared to the 1979 version, which was trickier, wittier and smarter." George A. Romero said, "It was better than I expected. ... The first 15, 20 minutes were terrific, but it sort of lost its reason for being. It was more of a video game. I'm not terrified of things running at me; it's like Space Invaders. There was nothing going on underneath." Bloody Disgusting ranked the film eighth in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article saying "Truly, you can analogize the two films [original and remake] based on their zombies alone – where Romero’s lumbered and took their time (in a good way), Snyder’s came at us, fast, with teeth bared like rabid dogs."
Box office 
The film grossed $59 million at the domestic box office, and over one hundred million dollars worldwide, and is one of the few zombie films to make over $102 million at the international box office.
Comparisons to the original 
In the original film, the zombies moved very slowly and were most menacing when they collected in large groups. In the remake, the zombies are fast and agile. Many admirers of the original, as well as Romero himself, protested this change, feeling that it limited the impact of the undead. This is somewhat borne out by the fact that the remake has almost no close-up shots of zombies that last more than a second or two. Snyder mentions this in the commentary track of the remake's DVD, pointing out that they seem too human when the camera lingers upon them for longer. Although, it was for this change that Wizard Magazine ranked the zombies #5 on their "100 Greatest Villains Ever" list.
The original had a smaller cast than the remake, allowing more screen time for each character. Many fans and critics criticized the resulting loss of character development.
In the original version, the story unfolds over several months, indicated by the advancing stages of Fran's pregnancy. In the remake, the events transpire within approximately one month, as evidenced by the supplemental feature The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed, located on the DVD in the special features section. Another big change from the original is that unlike Romero, Snyder treats zombification more like a disease, pointing to the bites as the source, instead of anyone who is dead turning into a zombie.
Three actors from the original film have cameos in the remake, appearing on the televisions the survivors watch: Ken Foree, who played Peter from the original, plays an evangelist who asserts that God is punishing mankind; Scott H. Reiniger, who played Roger in the original, plays an army general telling everyone to stay at home for safety and Tom Savini, who did the special effects for many of Romero's movies and played the motorcycle gang member Blades in the original Dawn of the Dead, plays the Monroeville Sheriff explaining the only way to kill the zombies is to "shoot 'em in the head." Monroeville is also the location of the mall used in the 1978 film. In addition, a store shown in the mall is called "Gaylen Ross", an obvious nod to actress Gaylen Ross, who played Francine in the original film.
Cancelled sequel 
A sequel was planned but was later cancelled. Zack Snyder stated that he would be only producing the sequel to his instead of reprising his role as the director due to working on Watchmen when he announced the movie. The script of Army of the Dead was written by Zack Snyder and Joby Harold. Filming for Army of the Dead was to start once they get a director as the producing studios have approved the script. Also according to Deborah Snyder, the film was set in Las Vegas, and the town had to be contained to stop the outbreak of zombies. The film's producing studios were Universal Studios (who released the first) and Warner Bros. Entertainment (who released most of Snyder's films since 300) and the film was set to be directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., director of The Thing, the 2011 prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 cult classic of the same name.
See also 
- J.C. Maçek III (2012-06-15). "The Zombification Family Tree: Legacy of the Living Dead". PopMatters.
- James Rocchi. "Super: Critics' Reviews". MSN.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- DVD Commentary by director Snyder and producer Newman
- DVD-only introduction by director Snyder
- "Festival de Cannes: Dawn of the Dead". fetyival-cannes.com. Unknown parameter
- "Dawn of the Dead (2005) reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- Roger Ebert (March 19, 2004). "Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-06-15.
- "Simon Pegg interviews George A Romero". Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 3". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- "Dawn of the Dead Box Office". Retrieved 2012-02-26.
- "Dawn of the Dead (2005)". Retrieved 2008-06-16.
- "John Leguizamo on Land of the Dead". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- "Dawn of the Dead". Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- DAWN OF THE DEAD SEQUEL ARMY OF THE DEAD WILL NOT REANIMATE
- "Zack Snyder NOT directing "Army of the Dead"". bloodydisgusting.com. June 5, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- "Army of the Dead is not dead". moviefone (moviefone). Oct 30, 2007. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- "EXCL: Snyder's Army of the Dead Update!". shocktillyoudrop.com. October 26, 2007. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- "Matthijs van Heijningen set to direct "Army of the Dead"". slashfilm.com. June 4, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
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- Official website
- Dawn of the Dead at the Internet Movie Database
- Dawn of the Dead at Rotten Tomatoes
- Dawn of the Dead at Metacritic