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|
|Edited by||Niven Howie|
New Amsterdam Entertainment
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Dawn of the Dead is a 2004 American horror film directed by Zack Snyder in his feature film directorial debut. A remake of George A. Romero's 1978 film of the same name, it is written by James Gunn and stars Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, and Jake Weber. 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. 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, returns to her suburban neighborhood and her husband, Luis. Caught up in a scheduled date night, they miss an emergency news bulletin. The next morning, a neighborhood girl called Vivian enters their bedroom and kills Luis, who immediately reanimates as a zombie and attacks Ana. She flees in her car, but eventually crashes and passes out. Upon waking, Ana joins with Police Sergeant Kenneth Hall, jack-of-all-trades Michael, petty criminal Andre and his pregnant wife, Luda. They break into a nearby mall and kill a zombified security guard, who bites Luda. They are also confronted by three living guards—C.J., Bart, and Terry—who make them surrender their weapons in exchange for refuge. They split into groups to secure the mall and then go to the roof where they see another survivor, Andy, who is stranded alone in his gun store across the zombie-infested parking lot.
The next day, a delivery truck carrying more survivors enters the lot, with zombies in close pursuit. C.J. and Bart wish to turn them away but are overruled and disarmed. The newcomers include Norma, Steve Marcus, Tucker, Monica, Glen, Frank and his daughter, Nicole. Another woman is too ill to walk; she is wheeled inside via wheelbarrow only to die and reanimate. After she is killed, the group determines that the disease is passed by bites. Andre leaves to see Luda, who has kept her bite hidden from the group. They realize that Frank has been bitten and is a potential threat. After some debate, Frank elects to be isolated. When he dies and turns, Kenneth shoots him.
A montage shows the survivors passing time. Kenneth and Andy start a friendship by way of messages written on a whiteboard; romance also buds between Ana and Michael, and Nicole and Terry. One day, the power goes out. CJ, Bart, Michael and Kenneth go to the parking garage to activate the emergency generator; they find a friendly dog got inside, worrying about a breach. Zombies attack and kill Bart, forcing the other to douse the zombies in gas and set them ablaze.
Meanwhile, Luda—tied up by Andre—gives birth and dies. She reanimates as Norma checks on the couple, killing the zombified Luda. Andre snaps; they exchange gunfire and both are killed. The others arrive to find a zombie baby, which they kill immediately. The group decides to fight their way to the local marina, and travel on Steve's yacht to an island on Lake Michigan. They begin reinforcing two shuttle buses from the parking garage for their escape. However, they also need to pick up Andy, who is starving.
The group straps food and a walkie-talkie onto the dog, Chips, and lower him into the parking lot; the zombies have no interest in him. Chips gets into Andy's store safely; however, a zombie follows through the dog door. Nicole, fond of Chips, crashes the delivery truck into the gun store, where she is trapped by a zombified Andy. Kenneth, Michael, Tucker, Terry, and C.J. reach the gun store via the sewers; they kill Andy, rescuing Nicole. They grab ammunition and go back to the mall; along the way, Tucker breaks his legs, C.J shoots him out of mercy. Once inside, they are unable to lock the door, forcing an evacuation.
Everyone boards the buses and navigate through the city. Glen loses control of a chainsaw, accidentally killing himself and Monica; blood splatters on the windshield causing the bus to crash. C.J. exits the first van to look for crash survivors with Kenneth and Terry. They encounter the undead Steve but Ana kills him. She retrieves his boat keys, and they take the remaining bus to the marina. C.J sacrifices himself so the rest of the group can escape. Michael reveals a bite wound, killing himself as Ana, Kenneth, Nicole, Terry, and Chips flee on the yacht.
During the end credits, 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, where they are attacked by another swarm of zombies. The camcorder drops, recording dozens of zombies chasing them, leaving their fate unknown.
- Sarah Polley as Ana
- Ving Rhames as Kenneth
- Jake Weber as Michael
- Ty Burrell as Steve
- Kevin Zegers as Terry
- Mekhi Phifer as Andre
- Michael Kelly as C.J.
- Lindy Booth as Nicole
- Inna Korobkina as Luda
- Kim Poirier as Monica
- Boyd Banks as Tucker
- Bruce Bohne as Andy
- Michael Barry as Bart
- R. D. Reid as Glen
- Jayne Eastwood as Norma
- Matt Frewer as Frank
- Louis Ferreira as Luis
- Hannah Lochner as Vivian
- Ermes Blarasin as Bloated Woman
- Ken Foree as TV Evangelist
- Tom Savini as Sheriff Cahill
- Scott Reiniger as The General
James Gunn is partially responsible for the screenplay although he received a solo writing credit. After he left the project to concentrate on Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Michael Tolkin and Scott Frank were brought in for rewriting. 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 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 and rooftop scenes were shot in the Thornhill Square Shopping Center in Thornhill, Ontario and the other scenes were shot in the Aileen-Willowbrook neighborhood of Thornhill, Ontario. The set for Ana and Luis'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 film, after preview audiences objected to the sudden ending of the original print.
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 homosexual coming-of-age.
The DVD release includes, as a bonus feature, the short film We Interrupt This Program, an expanded version of the fictional live broadcasts shown in the mall's televisions, which chronicles the worldwide effects of the zombie plague and the impact it has on a newscaster. Aside from featuring additional footage of cameos by actors from the original film, the film features Richard Biggs as the newscaster (in his final performance before his death in May 2004), and a voiceover cameo by Bruce Boxleitner as the President of the United States.
In the United Kingdom, 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 75% 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." 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."
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." South Park parodied the film in the episode, "Night of the Living Homeless". The show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, called the film "amazing" in the episode's DVD commentary.
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 tribute to actress Gaylen Ross, who played Francine in the original film.
A sequel was planned but was later cancelled. Zack Snyder stated that he would only be producing the sequel instead of reprising his role as the director due to working on Watchmen when he announced the film. 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 got a director as the producing studios had 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.
- The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed
- List of zombie films
- List of zombie other films
- List of zombie short films
- Survivalism in fiction
- "DAWN OF THE DEAD (18)". British Board of Film Classification. March 16, 2004. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
- 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
- Snyder, Zack (Director) (25 October 2004). Dawn Of The Dead: Unrated Director's Cut (Fullscreen) (DVD). Universal Studios. Retrieved 2 October 2013.UPC 025192582028
- DVD-only introduction by director Snyder
- "Festival de Cannes: Dawn of the Dead". fetyival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- "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.
- "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 3". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- "Simon Pegg interviews George A Romero". Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- "Night of the Living Homeless" Episode Commentary on South Park Season 11 DVD boxset; 2008
- "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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