"Dawn of the Dead"
Directed by Zack Snyder.
Written by James Gunn. Based on the 1978 George Romero
film of the same name.
Starring Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Michael Kelly and Mekhi
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 4/12/04
As many of you know, I freakin' love horror movies. I think
I might have a soft spot for zombie movies, though, because their
concept is just so plain: undead, mindless, bloody mutants
that like to eat flesh, and it's always up to the living to put them
into the ground for good.
So, in this remake of the 1978 classic "Dawn of the Dead", the
producers wisely stayed away from remaking a film that doesn't need
to be remade...instead, they reimagined it, so this time the city of
Milwaukee is overrun by very undead zombies from the first scene
onward (no, it's never explained how this happened, and I was glad
no time was wasted here) and instead of giving us any kind of
critique of American society, we get a run-and-gun horror movie with
some nice touches throughout its 100-minute running time.
Sarah Polley stars as Ana, who opens the film by watching her
daughter kill her husband, and then gets attacked by her two
zombified former family members. After escaping and wrecking
her car near Crossroads Mall, she meets up with a cop (Ving Rhames),
a group of mall security guards led by CJ (Michael Kelly), even the
boyfriend (Mekhi Phifer) of a pregnant woman (Inna Korobkina), all
of whom are on the run from, well, a full city of zombies.
While at the mall, they meet up with even more survivors, and
together, they try to regularly ward off the undead while escaping
from town ASAP.
There are some solid scares throughout "Dawn of the Dead"; I
found that, even for me, I was sitting around more tense than usual
waiting for the next scare or kill to take place, and this is
because director Zack Snyder does a good thing by making these
zombies faster than zombies usually are in horror films.
This makes for some fun sequences, since they must (naturally) be
killed by being shot in the head...and, when they're moving this
fast, you can't always get that gun up in time! The zombie
blood effects were very cool as well; I'm sure the budget was low
for something like this, but it doesn't show in a production that is
quite crisp throughout.
I even loved a sequence mid-film where the group is just kind of
resigned to the fact that they won't be able to leave the mall, so
they have some fun at the mall playing cards, having sex, shooting
some hoops, and on and on. Hey, what else you gonna do--the
whole city is undead, for chrissakes!
Bottom line: The Washington Post even gave "Dawn of
the Dead" a great review. If you read the Post regularly, you
know how rare that a flick--let alone a horror film--gets a good
review, so if it's still out in your 'hood, give "Dawn of the Dead"
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard