Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 5: Dawn of the Dead (2004)

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The quote is one of the most iconic in horror movie history: “Where there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” It is a line that emulates the zombie genre in its entirety: bleak futures can await you, even when you’re dead. George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is a classic and it’s remake directed by Zack Snyder is one of the best of its kind.

It is difficult to say anything that hasn’t already been said about these two films. It’s easy to see why many prefer the remake: it’s a hell of a lot faster. But personally, I always love the original. Everything about speaks to me, especially the look and the music (Goblin does an amazing job). Plus anything Romero or Argento touches is gold in my eyes. But this is a remake that actually gives the original a run for its money. The less I compare them, the more I like both.

The movie starts off showing the day in the life of an over-worked nurse in Milwaukee (which looks pleasantly suburban here) named Ana. She goes home to a date night with her husband, but it isn’t too long before things go sour and Ana is off into the world of the zombie apocalypse. After she crashes her car, she bumps into the burly Police Sergeant Kenneth Hall. The two quickly buddy up and form a group with other fellow survivors. It isn’t long before someone has the idea…

“Let’s go to the mall, everybody!”

In either film, I never understood why they thought going to the mall would be a good idea. I mean, I get why the zombies go (social commentary and all that), but aren’t malls very large? Why would someone want to deal with protecting all of that space? Especially in the remake it seems a bit silly. These aren’t the stumbling, decomposing dead of the original Dead movies, but they are the faster breed that became so popular in 28 Days Later. If they’re strong, aren’t they more likely to break through glass?

Just minor thoughts here.

Of course our heroes aren’t alone for long when they bump into the world’s only threatening mall security guards with guns. The scene where the two groups meet is somehow one of the most amusing in the movie. Perhaps it’s the constantly dinging elevator doors.

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It doesn’t take long until the mall becomes some sort of shelter for survivors. But with every life saved costs all the more. The group agree to help save the survivors on a delivery truck, but of course there are contaminated aboard (or this film would seriously lack any drama). While the cast is quite large, it is fun to watch their interactions, especially after they are stuck in the mall for a long period of time.

Before long, the power goes out. While searching through the parking garage for the emergency generator, the group find a friendly dog. While dogs are great pals, clearly this doesn’t spell good news for anyone involved. The group need to deal with the breach in their stronghold. It quickly becomes clear that the group need to leave and learn that they can take a yacht to an island in Lake Michigan. The last third of the film follows their escape and survival attempts – much of it just as grim as you’d like it to be.

The ending isn’t terribly great, but giving it away would be a shame. Unfortunately, they keep going with the ending during the credits when it should have just stopped when the screen went  black. Either way gives the views a chance to dream up the survivors fates, but end at the ending, please. It’s also done in a sort of embarrassing found-footage way, but original ideas isn’t the aim for this movie. It succeeds in many other ways like the character flaws and relationships. Any horror movie can have a terrible monster, but who cares when you don’t care when everyone is dead?

I quite like this film. Although I’ve seen in a few times before, it still is interesting to watch. To be honest, it was nice to get a break this week, especially after the movies from the past two weeks. They really get the little details right like the county names. For me, it adds all the more realism. There is plenty of good gore and the opening credits are actually pretty fun. It might not be as good-looking as the original, but I’ll take this remake over Black Cadillac any day.

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