SK Olympics: Dawn of the Dead (2004) – Wisconsin, USA

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As promised we’re back in the US for our next SK Olympics entry. This time it comes from the blogging legend that is Table 9 Mutant from the Cinema Parrot Disco blog. Cinema Parrot Disco is of course in reference to her favourite ever film Dunston Checks In. Mutant has kindly offered up this piece on the 2004 remake of zombies at the mall classic, Dawn of the Dead. Enjoy!

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Screenkicker Olympics – Wisconsin, USA
Dawn of the Dead (2004) – Cinema Parrot Disco

Wisconsin – America’s Dairyland. Not many movies are set in Wisconsin & even fewer are actually filmed there. Not sure why that is – it seems like the perfect place to set a horror movie at the very least with all our cornfields & cannibals & old abandoned houses in the middle of nowhere. I wondered if I could write about a famous actor from Wisconsin (Willem Dafoe, Gene Wilder, Mark Ruffalo, Spencer Tracy, Peter Weller, Heather Graham, Chris Farley, Tony Shalhoub). SHALHOUB! I just like saying that. SHALHOUB! Then I found out that some pretty damn good directors were from Wisconsin (Rob Marshall, David & Jerry Zucker, Howard Hawks, Terry Zwigoff, and Orson Welles). Orson Welles! I could review Citizen Kane and win the whole Screenkicker Olympics as that’s meant to be one of the best movies EVER! (I don’t know – I’ve not seen it. Looks a bit too “worthy”).

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Screw all that – I’m going with zombies. So for Wisconsin’s entry for the Screenkicker Olympics, I’m reviewing Dawn Of The Dead from Wisconsin’s very own Zack Snyder. He even set it in Wisconsin! Awesome. (But filmed it in Canada. Oh well – it looks like Wisconsin!)

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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…?

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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.

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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 film.

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I also 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. And they did a great job choosing the music in this 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.

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Summary:

All in all, there’s not really anything that I don’t like about Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead. 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

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I think we’ve all learned something from this. I’m not entirely sure what that something is, whether it’s that Wisconsin is a real place or that apparently it looks like Canada but I think you’ll all agree that this is a most excellent review. Thanks again to T9M, and please go visit her site for more excellent reviews and an above average amount of gratuitous nudity. Come back tomorrow for another American Olympic entry.

46 comments

  1. Nice work, Mutant Disco. You know I streaked my way through Wisconsin several years ago (which is why, I’m sure, you opted to move to England) but I don’t remember seeing any zombies. I totally went to this bar in Racine and made it with a hot, tall chick but, no zombies. Please explain.

    Also – I LOVE this movie. So there.

    #buns

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    • Yes, that’s why I left! I never wanted to see such a thing again. Hey…. Were you cheating on me??? I’m not tall! That can’t have been me! Oh, and I think you probably saw no zombies as your nudity scared them off. : )

      Also, WHAT? We just agreed on two movies in the same day?! Surely this means the apocalypse is coming soon….!

      #ChrisHemsworthButt

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  2. Mutant, you’ve convinced me to check this one out. Hope I’ll like it as much as Ive enjoyed The Walking Dead eventhough I’m not a fan of Horror. I’ll let you know what I think.

    Mikey, whats with all the midwesterners? (myself included), guess ppl on the coast don’t have time to blog 🙂

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    • Hmm… I don’t know… Do you really trust me after Hardware?? Lol! ; ) I LOVE this movie. I watch The Walking Dead too and do like it but definitely prefer this movie. But nothing beats the Romero stuff. : )

      Midwesterners are just more fun! : )

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      • hope to watch it later today or tomorrow, so the jury is still out 🙂
        I will always trust your taste in movies (even with the Hardware debacle).

        I agree, we are all much more wholesome 🙂

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      • really enjoyed this movie. reminds me a lot of TWD except here Zombies can run 🙂
        Dunno what’s happening to me, I’m starting to like some forms of Horror. Aaarrrrgggghhhhhh! (Wilhelm Scream)

        Thanks for the recommendation!

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    • Thanks! : ) You can trust me – I LOVE the original. This isn’t as good as that, obviously, but it’s a damn good movie on its own & it’s respectful to the original. I HATE remakes 99.99% of the time. : )

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  3. DOTD is brilliant and my favourite answer to the old dull “why do they have to remake everything?” question.

    Really wish Zack Snyder would get the superhero stuff out of his system and go back to making more small scale movies like this.

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    • Thanks. : ) Agree! I SO want him to make stuff like this again. This is definitely my favorite movie of his. And remakes DO piss me off but that’s because they never do anything DIFFERENT with them – Snyder gave Dawn of the Dead a whole new feel. It’s a very different movie and it works.

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    • Thanks! : ) Agree – this is pure zombie goodness. Did I just say zombie goodness?? Oh dear… Lol – LOTS of extra points for no cheese references. I hate cheese references whenever I mention I’m from Wisconsin! ; )

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  4. Nice review, lady! GO MIDWEST GO!!! Had no idea this was set in Wisconsin! Obviously, I’m due for a rewatch. This is definitely a good one though. I became obsessed with “The Man Comes Around” because of it. Love. It. 🙂

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    • Awesome song! Gotta love Johnny Cash. : ) It’s funny how they stick a Wisconsin flag in the beginning of the movie – I was all excited when I saw this for the first time as NOTHING ever gets set in Wisconsin! : )

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  5. I had no idea this was set in Wisconsin, aka my neighbor (I live in MN). And Mikey, yes it IS a real place ahahaha, tho sometimes it’s covered w/ so much snow you might not be able to see it 😀

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  6. Great review, Mutant. I haven’t seen the original (*hides head in shame*) or the remake. But someday I’ll change that.

    And clearly I get behind your Wisconsin entry!

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  7. Love this movie, but it kicked off a pretty horrible onslaught of zombie movies, and kind of diluted the whole genre. They used to be a lot more “special” growing up. I watched the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake the other day. I don’t think I’ve watched it since I saw it in theaters. It was ok. Not particularly good but better than a lot of the zombie turds of the past 10 years.

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    • Are you stalking me today?! That’s awesome! I’m gonna stalk you back in a minute. I agree that this movie started up the whole zombie craze that’s still going and it does suck that it’s kind of ruined the whole zombie-thing for me a bit. But at least there have actually been a few good ones. You know, I’ve never watched the 1990 Night of the Living Dead. Just assumed it would be too shit. Maybe I should check it out?? I’m kind of scared of Tom Savini after Children of the Living Dead. He’s not IN it, is he? I think that was the problem! Maybe he’s a better director.

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