Remaketober 2017 Week 4: Dawn of the Dead

George Romero is such a towering figure in the horror genre that its hard to separate him from the subgenre he created, more or less from scratch. Even when we intentionally try to separate him from the genre, to highlight some of his other works, it becomes nigh on impossible to discuss them without the subject of zombies coming up. This is my long form defense of the fact that I originally intended this week to be devoted to The Crazies, but was forced to shift it over to being about Dawn of the Dead.


While Night of the Living Dead is the original zombie film, and a great film in its own right, its always been kind of...awkward. It is, was and always will be a very amateur movie, built on a shoestring budget and with a visually obvious learning curve for everyone on set. Its an important movie, and still a great one, but its never been all it could be.

Dawn doesn't have that problem. In terms of being the best movie it can be, Dawn succeeds with flying colors. Even now, with the zombie genre having spent most of the last 10 years being so overexposed that I got sick of it, Dawn of the Dead still holds up. Its not only the most effective zombie movie of the last few...ever, but its also the one that managed to set the template for how to make a good zombie movie.

Its still kind of rough, but its story works better than most zombie films, even while the point about consumerism is very very blunt (the guy who decides to sit down in the blood pressure cuff during the zombie attack still cracks me up to this day) but hey, anti-consumerism messages are never bad in my book and the bit towards the end of the 2nd act where the characters are just trapped in the mall feeling empty is great.its

I got issues, sure; The conflict towards the end feels kind of manufactured and the script is kind of rough, but the great direction and incredible special effects from Tom Savini do more than enough to carry the movie through its occasional bumps. A true masterpiece, and probably still the greatest example of its subgenre.

Which means that remaking it is always a risk.


I feel like when I say Dawn of the Dead is Zack Snyder's best movie, I am accidentally saying it's a good movie. A far more accurate definition would be that it is his least bad. It is still bad in all the way Snyder's movies are bad, but it doesn't take itself too seriously and it even has some attempts at out and out humor. Heck, I can even see the marks of its writer, James Gunn, especially in its music choices (the Richard Cheese cover of Down With the Sickness being used reminds me a lot the ending song from Slither).

Its also got all of Snyder's strengths: It looks great, with a solid grasp of how to time and execute action setpieces and gore effects. It overall has a very strong look, with a lot of great gory moments. Its much more an action movie than it is a horror movie, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I can't imagine what Snyder's attempts at directing scares would look like, but I doubt he has the subtly or restraint to pull it off.

Which leads me to the film's failings, which are common to much of Snyder's films. It has a weak script, handles its non-action scenes awkwardly (feeling very uninterested in exploring the characters or their relationships) and is just sort of paced oddly. It opens very strong (I am a pretty big fan of the opening scene at the house and the opening credits, like the opening credits of the much worse Watchmen, are fantastic).

And this is the risk of making a remake of such a classic horror flick, it makes comparisons inevitable, and its one you're probably not going to do well in. On its own merits, the Dawn of the Dead remake is generic but reasonably enjoyable zombie flick with Ving Rhames in it (which is always a point in a movie's favor). Compared to the movie which shares its name and setting (and little else) its most just bad.

Still, that opening is killer.

And thus passes another year of Remaketober, which went off mostly without a hitch despite some personal issues. I hope to see you all here again next year.

Elessar is a 27 year old Alaskan-born, Connecticut-based, cinephile with an obsession with The Room and a god complex.