My oh my, how time flies. It feels like it was just yesterday when I took my seat at a Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors convention on the East Coast and got my first glimpse at the teaser trailer for Dawn of the Dead, a remake spearheaded by Strike Entertainment and Universal.
When the promo was over, it received a unanimous raised middle finger from the crowd.
No one wanted a remake. I know I certainly didn't.
George Romero's original story certainly didn't need to be re-told. The film was perfect in every way. And who the hell did this director Zack Snyder think he was to tamper with the material? And did this screenwriter James Gunn – who, at the time, had penned a live-action Scooby-Doo – really think he could deliver something sharp and something with as much bite as Romero's film?
Then the remake saw its release on March 19, 2004 (moved up a week from an original March 26th release slot). And I think we – including myself – were all a little surprised by how good it was. It was snarky and intense, violent and gory. It didn't really pull any punches and was mean and aggressive and it showcased not only what Gunn had to offer as a writer, but Snyder's strong visual style.
Dawn of the Dead put a lot of great talent on the radar. In addition to Gunn and Snyder (who have since made names for themselves and are champs with Guardians of the Galaxy and Batman vs. Superman on the way, respectively), the film gave us some great work from Ty Burrell (the star of Modern Family) and Michael Kelly (of House of Cards), too. Eric Newman, the producer, would go on to produce Slither, Children of Men and The Last Exorcism.
The film opened to $26 million and grossed over $100 million worldwide, signaling the rise of zombies in pop culture.
Dawn of the Dead is one of those titles that holds up as its own film and as a strong remake. What did you guys think of the film?