Dawn of the Dead (2004)

In the transition between winter and spring, there are a lot of father-son bonding activities that are out of the question due to the weather, like skating, mini golf, and playing ball in the park. So when the best things to do are gone away, what do you do? You go see a movie. The movie me and my dad went to see during our last little adventure is titled Dawn of the Dead.

Now I don’t know if I’ve told you before, but I love zombie movies. I’ve enjoyed every zombie movie I’ve seen, even Resident Evil. You’ve read my review of 28 Days Later (If you haven’t… *shakes fist*). Sure I may not have seen a lot of zombie moves, but I still like ’em all. And the craziest part of this is that my dad generally doesn’t like zombie flicks. The fact that even he was swayed by the look of Dawn of the Dead really gives you an idea how awesome this movie is even in commercial form.

Now before I go summarizing the plot, I’d like to get one thing out of the way. I just can’t hold it in any longer. This movie is BAD ASS. And you know I mean it because it’s italicized, bolded, underlined and in caps. But I’m totally serious about this. The movie is full of everything I love; ass kicking, comedy, violence, and gore. And on top of all that there is a baby zombie. I wasn’t sure what to think of it at first, but then I realized that it was possibly the most evil-looking thing I’ve seen in a while.

So now we work on the story part. It all starts with this nurse chick Anna getting home late. She sees a little girl on the way in and they talk about roller skating and such. Then she gets home and in comes this mostly irrelevant shower scene. It’s her and her husband in the shower, and nothing is shown. The only thing this here does is make them miss the “News Bulletin” that interrupts some show they weren’t watching. And thus, we know something is very awry.

The next morning, her husband wakes up to someone gently rapping, rapping upon his chamber door. It’s little roller girl! Only she’s covered in blood. He goes over to see what’s wrong with her and says goodbye to his jugular vein. Blah blah blah, turns into zombie and Anna escapes in car after watching neighbor get hit with ambulance. She drives around and ends up in a bush with a gun pointed to her head.

On the other end is black cop man, Kenneth. They run around and meet up with Michael, Andre and his wife Luda. Luda is very pregnant, and Andre is very intent on having that baby, for reasons other than the obvious which are explained later. (Can you spell “foreshadowing of zombie baby”?) Together, the crew sets off for the only safe place left: the mall. I was sure that would be the first place zombies would go, but whatever.

After somehow getting into the locked mall (the only plot hole me and my dad were able to find), they blast a couple straggling zombies and are held up and captured by what’s left of the mall’s security guards; CJ, Bart, and Terry. CJ’s character is instantly built as a rather insane and very selfish guy. The good news is that he becomes a more likeable character later on. Not much more, but more nonetheless. The heroes turn the table on the guards, and capture them, minus Terry, who has defected to the side of the heroes. And now we learn that Luda has been bitten! (More zombie baby foreshadowing)

While painting SOS signs on the roof, they catch a glimpse of a man trapped on the roof of his gun shop, Alan. They quickly become long-distance friends, and they communicate with dry erase marker boards and binoculars. Later, a truck of 8 or so survivors appears. Two of them are killed off instantly, having been bitten. Our heroes only now figure out that being bitten by zombies turns you into a zombie. I guess they’d never seen any zombie movies before.

Blah blah blah, stuff happens, the find a dog, more people die, and I’m not going to give away any more of the plot. Not that there is really a plot, but I don’t want to spoil some of the cooler scenes or who dies with you. Let’s just put it this way, after the truck survivors appear is when the movie starts to get really good. It’s like when they got to this point while rewriting the script, they said “This movie is good, but we should still inject it with a large does of awesome”. And I bet they did.

Speaking of rewriting the script, I should have mentioned that this is a remake. Some will say the original was better, but I haven’t seen it, so I’m looking at this one from a fresh point of view. There’s only one tiny little problem with this remake. And that would be that Dawn of the Dead is the second movie in a trilogy! Damn you James Gunn! What were you thinking? Now we have no idea why people are turning into zombies! My dad thinks it’s because they wanted to get right to the action and gore. I think he’s right.

Other things I have to pick at? Well, for one, the “got into the mall that was locked all the way around” thing. That’s kind of an explanation-needer. Then there was the fact that some of the best characters died. To be completely honest, I didn’t like the small list of people who made it through. One of my favorite characters, the cynical asshole Steve, was so close to the… Oh crap. I’ve ruined it. Oh well.

Oh yes! My biggest beef with the new version here is that they made the zombies super-zombies. You just can’t do that. 28 Days Later had an excuse; they weren’t really zombies. But in this movie here, they are your stereotypical brain-munching ghouls. Only now they can run like hell and act more like rabid dogs than, you know, zombies. If this trend continues, I’m going to get very mad at Hollywood for screwing with a working formula.

Now that we’ve gotten the anger out of the way, here are some things I liked about the movie. There was plenty of awesome gore shots, and some of the best and messiest kills I’ve enjoyed for some time. And the action was top notch. Apparently, blowing up zombies work really well, and exploding a barrel of fuel right in the middle of a crowd works wonders. That and the shotgun blast to zombie melon were probably my favorite parts of the movie.

One really cool little thing I noticed was that when they showed a shot of a banquet table after our heroes had eaten, there was a red and white bucket that said “PFK” on the side. Do you know what “PFK” means? It’s KFC in French! So I think we can all agree that either some of the movie was shot in Canada, or they went to Canada, got a bucket of the colonel’s finest, and used it as a prop, cause I’ll be damned if they print the buckets with French alternatives down in them United States.

I also mentioned that there was a lot of funny in the movie. There wasn’t as much funny as ass-kicking, but it was perfectly balanced for a horror movie. For one, there was Steve. Pretty much everything that came out of his mouth was hilarious, because he was being such an asshole. Then there was the “Celebrity Zombie Snipe” game that Kenneth and Alan were playing after they got bored with long-distance chess. Some of the zombie kills were funny too, and even a couple zombies were a hoot themselves.

Even the soundtrack is great, if only for one song. Richard Cheese’s take on Down With the Sickness. It suits the part of the movie when it’s played perfectly. That and the song is just freaking hilarious. Some of the other music is cool too, and even sets up a joke or two. Aw, who am I trying to kid? I’d buy the soundtrack just for the Down With the Sickness cover. It’s that great. Or at least I think so.

What else do I need to say? The acting was pretty good I guess, but apparently I don’t know good acting anyway so there’s no reason to go into detail about that. Likewise, the story was all you can expect from a remake of a 1970’s zombie flick: Solid yet simple with few to no plot holes. The only thing that messed the story was the omission of the first freaking chapter.

And that’s what I think of Dawn of the Dead. While a couple things could have been fixed, it was a great movie that even I, a guy who doesn’t buy movies, would buy. I recommend you go see it as soon as you can. Unless, you know, you’re a pussy and a movie like this isn’t your cup of pussy tea. This is a movie that everyone should see! I can’t stress that enough. And now I really want to find the original, just so I can make sure it kicked as much ass. Definitely an A for this one. It loses the + because of that ‘lack of the first movie’ flub.

The Good Stuff:
  • Tons of gore and mayhem
  • Some hilarious scenes
  • Soundtrack features Richard Cheese
  • Zombie baby!
  • Titties!
  • The Bad Stuff:
  • Throws you into the middle of a story with no explanation
  • The “active zombie” thing is a bit annoying
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