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!
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”).
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!)
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 film.
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.
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
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.