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Dawn of the Dead
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Dawn of the Dead (2004)

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Plot Summary:
"As the United States is turned upside-down by a strange plague-like event in which millions of corpses walk the earth as blood-thirsty zombies (with the recently-deceased that the zombies kill usually returning as zombies themselves, multiplying their number), a small group of survivors of the onslaught, which include a nurse (Polley) and a police officer (Rhames), try to find shelter and protection within a massive shopping mall in the mid-sized city of Everett, WA. What they don't reckon on is that the zombies still have some sort of residual memory, and *everyone* loves going to the mall, right? Realizing that their time is running out, they decide to make another attempt at flight, to a presumably un-zombie-infested island, but to do so, they'll have to get past thousands of zombies in-between."


Review by
Ryan McDonald
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@horrorasylum
Review Date: 26 October 2004 My Rating: out of 5

 

A ragtag group of survivors (including cool-headed cop Ving Rhames, nurse Polley, and arrogant and hostile security guard Michael Kelly) head for a suburban shopping mall to seek refuge from a rising horde of flesh-eating zombies who are very hungry...Look out for Ken Foree as a priest who gets to utter the immortal line 'When There's no more Room in Hell, the Dead will Walk the Earth', Tom Savini (as a cop who tells us to shoot the zombies in the head), and Scott Reiniger in cameos.

Or better yet, don't bother. The remake of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' might've been unnecessary, different in style and tone, and rather pointless overall, but at least it had style and there was a lot of enjoyment to be had on a B-movie level. This remake, however, simply sets itself in a shopping mall just for the hell of it, has far too many (mostly uninteresting) characters to care about (what can you say about a film where Ving Rhames- in the Ken Foree part- fades into the background?), and a surprising lack of energy, despite '28 Days Later'-like faster zombies.

There are fun moments to be sure, there's an absolutely brilliant twist involving a pregnant character (loved the idea of shooting zombie celebrity look-alikes, too), scenes of the zombie mass are quite effective (and there should've been more of such scenes), and the gore level is thankfully quite high in these rather frustratingly conservative times (And I'm no gore-hound at all).

It's not an awful film by any means (it's reason for being, however, is deplorable), but it does feature grainy hand-held digital video stuff that I hate, sadly overdoses on those horrible colour filters (the bane of my existence), and has not a helluva lot of substance. If taken as mindless carnage, there is some fun to be had (it sure as heck ain't no PG-13 flick), but like I say, the technical attributes (including a few annoying MTV-style gimmicks) hamper the fun quite a bit. With too many characters to have any real depth to any of them, it's hard to care about them or their situation (even if they replaced some of the duller actors like Jake Weber and replaced them with livelier actors it still wouldn't matter). And yet, we get a LOT of time spent with just the characters interacting, so there sure was ample opportunity for at least a little character development, but outside of Polley and maybe Weber we get none.

OVERALL SUMMARY
Why the hell doesn't Hollywood remake something that didn't quite work the first time? Why remake a great film that worked very well first time around? Money, money, money. I liked parts of this film (especially the premature end credits, the best idea in the film), but it's a shameless attempt to make lots of money and rather muted.



Reviewer: Steven Davies @braindeadsteve
Location:Luton, UK
Review Date: 09 September 2004 My Rating: out of 5

This was always going to be a difficult situation for me. In my personal estimation Romero's Dawn of the Dead is one of the greatest horror experiences there is. I have so many fond memories of the inventive styles and sequences used in the original. But I was determined not to let that partial favouritism overshadow my enjoyment of this remake, nor to let it become any overshadowing factor for my review.

Anna, a young nurse, finds herself thrown into the middle of a worldwide chaos as what appear to be flesh-eating zombies begin to kill and then just as easily rise up again, like any self-respectable zombie should. She finds shelter with a small group of other survivors in a nearby mall. But before long things start to deteriorate and survival is all that the group has in mind.

The instantly noticeable difference in this movie unlike most classic zombie treats is the overall pace. And I'm not just referring to the swiftness of scenes and the movement of the storyline but the incredible speed of the infected passing the disease between everybody. Not only does this disease zombify the body within moments after death, but these brain dead predators put the likes of Linford Christie and Michael Johnson to shame sprinting as they do to feed on their next victim. It's a disturbing thought and one that I'm still a little unsure about.

We associate zombies with slow-paced shuffling, for obvious reasons, they're brain dead! There is little activity going on upstairs and logical reasoning and coordination has slowed to a pathetic crawl. It wasn't until 28 Days Later revived the sub-genre recently into a different life that we began seeing more rapid moving zombie-like persons. This movie steps up the pace 10-fold, attempting to take it to a whole new level and to play about with more groundbreaking departures. Concepts and ideas that leave yesteryears zombies looking sluggish and non-threatening. In this day and age everything moves quicker - technology, medicine and even the negative aspects such as infection and disease. This surely seems the next logical step.

So after being thrown into the haste and visual thrills of this 'what seems to be' intelligent remake we are treated to quality make-up and effects, which apparently were based on real forensic photos. Also, of course, there are some very nice looking deaths, which take full advantage of modern aids such as CG and other advanced techniques. Well, you live in this day and age you have to take full benefit from the tools you that are available to you.

The movie flows on, but slows to a degree. There is a couple of sub-plots slipped in involving one of the survivors and her unborn child and the relationship the Ving Rhames character has with the guy on the roof of the adjacent Gun Works store. There's a number of notable cameos from stars of the original, there's some decent music blaring in the background, and a few in-jokes that hardcore buffs will smile at. And the editing is great.

OVERALL SUMMARY
Although, as Resident Evil initiated, there is no direct mention of the word zombie. There is no mention of what the infection is at all. But of course I think we can all feel that that hidden edge is what makes a movie like this even more credible, due to its simple lack of explanation and justification. It's a departure from the usual type of zombie movie. But with recent efforts such as 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead it just goes to show that there is still life and plenty of original ideas left in this rotting corpse of a sub-genre.



Reviewer: Tariq Rafiq @horrorasylum
Location:South Bucks, UK
Review Date: 16 August 2004 My Rating: out of 5

Not only is this one of the greatest horror films I have ever seen, this is also one of the greatest remakes I have ever seen.

This is a remake of the classic zombie film from the holy trinity of Zombie films - The Trilogy of The Dead. This original trilogy is made up of 'Night Of The Living Dead' (1968), 'Dawn Of The Dead' (1978) and 'Day Of The Dead' (1985).

The main problem with the original 'Dawn Of The Dead' is that it is overlong and you soon stop caring about the characters. This remake is a perfect film where everything keeps going at a great pace and where the secrets of what a zombie is and how you become one are quickly learnt by the characters. No time is wasted on pretending that we have never seen the living dead and don't understand what that means. There is no air-born virus or killer, disease carrying monkeys. Just as we understand what it means to be a vampire and how you become one, we know what a zombie is, so get those teeth away from me.

An unnamed disease turns everyone into a mindless zombie. A group of survivor's find themselves trapped in a shopping mall where they decide to wait until someone comes to rescue them. In time they learn no-one is coming and that they must fend for themselves.

In real life we have had incidents of SARS, Bird Flu and anthrax in the post, so it is not difficult to believe that an unknown disease could become unleashed amongst the populace killing everyone and everything it touches. This adds to the reality element of the film and therefore just makes the premise of the film even scarier. That is the main strength of this film. It is set in the real world and we are allowed to image what the world would be like if a disease did explode in society.

This is not a teen slasher movie where a bunch of randy, good looking kids get stuck amongst a sea of zombie's and are slowly whittled down one by one. This is a horror movie for those of us who are tired of having our intelligence insulted. The characters here are so much more than regular horror movie stereotypes and although you think you know who is the slimy one, the one that will betray everyone and save himself and who will be around at the end - you can never be quite sure.

The main feature of a proper zombie film is that it has fast zombies rather than the slow ones and thankfully there are no plodding 'Boris Karloff' style zombie's here. They are like whippets so you have to have your wits about you. It is not easy to stay unbitten but if one of them does bite then you are a guaranteed goner.

OVERALL SUMMARY
If you love horror movies, disaster movies, dystopia movies or movies that are just cool as hell to watch and don't force you to suspend normal notions of common sense then you CANNOT miss this. And to all you zombie fans out there - fast zombies are always the best, every time.




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