Dawn of the Dead (2004 film)
Dawn of the Dead is a 2004 horror film about a small band of survivors who take refuge in a shopping mall as a plague of zombies overruns the earth. A remake of Dawn of the Dead, the 1978 George Romero film of the same name.
- [While her husband tries to staunch the flow of blood from a bite to his throat, Ana desperately dials 911, only to get repeated "busy" signals.] Don't do this to me! Please, don't DO this to me!
- The bites killed her, the bites brought her back.
- [Zombie has slammed itself against a glass door at the mall from the outside] Shatterproof, asshole
- I feel like I'm here for another reason. I feel like I'm here to bring that baby on this earth, and give it everything that I never had. I just want the opportunity... to change things.
- I don't believe in God. I don't see how anyone could.
- [About the deaths of Luda, Andre and Norma] There's nothing to be said. I been to a lot of funerals, folded the flags, givin' them to mothers, wives, sons, and told them how sorry I was. But that's not what I was really feeling. In the back of my mind, I was always thinking better them than me. But I don't believe that now. And now I know that there are some things worse than death. And one of them is sitting here waiting to die.
- [En route to the marina, zombies swarm against Kenneth's bus.] They're trying to turn us over! Hit them with the saw!
- I don't want to shit on anyones riff, but let me see if I grasp this concept, okay? You’re suggesting that we take some fucking parking-shuttles and reinforce them with some aluminum siding, and then just head on over to the gun-store and watch our good friend Andy play some cowboy-movie-jump on the covered wagon-bullshit. Then, we're gonna drive across the ruined city through a welcome-committee of a few hundred-thousand dead cannibals, all so that we can sail off into the sunset on this fuckin' asshole's boat? [The group nods] Alright I'm in.
- [To Steve after he abandoned his post and allowing the zombies overtake the mall] I'll deal with you later you motherfucker!
- [Just before committing suicide to save the other survivors] Fuckin' Figures!
- Televangelist: Hell is overflowing! And Satan is sending his dead to us! Why? Because...you have sex out of wedlock. You kill unborn children. You have men-on-man relations; same sex marriage! How do you think your God will judge you? Well, friends, now we know. When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.
- Sheriff Cahill: [on TV] Danny, put another round in that woman over there! Look! She's a twitcher!
- President of the United States: My fellow Americans, this Republic faces a crisis like no other in its history. While the lights across this great land dim and the darkness of an uncertain future descends, let us not forget the words that led our country through another great challenge: 'We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.' We will endure, we will rebuild, we will drive away the night and warm our children in the dawn of a new day. God bless you all, and god bless the United States of America.
- CDC official: I'll take your questions.
- Reporter: Is it a virus?
- CDC official: We don't know.
- Reporter: How does it spread? Is it airborne?
- CDC official: Airborne is a possibility; we don't know.
- Reporter: Is this an international health hazard or a military concern?
- CDC official: Both.
- Reporter: Are these people alive or dead?
- CDC official: [pause] We don't know.
- Press secretary: Yes, I have just spoken with the president. He is in constant contact with both the CDC as well as FEMA. No more questions!
- White House Press Secretary: A state of emergency has been declared in the United States of America, including all overseas dependencies, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. We face- We, uh- For reasons yet to be determined, the bodies of the recently deceased are returning to life and attacking the living. The scope of this eci- epidemic is now reaching global proportions. The President has sent to Congress a package of initiatives which will be explained by the Secretary of Defense, Mr. Martin Emery. Mr. Secretary?
- U.S. Secretary of Defense: As of 8 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, the president has declared the continental United States under martial law. A nationwide curfew of 7 p.m., tonight, has been put into effect, and any citizen caught outdoors between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. is subject to arrest, and detention without counsel. All reserve military personnel and National Guard are ordered to report for immediate deployment. All law enforcement, firefighting and emergency personnel will be federalized, effective immediately. All communications facilities, including the use of landline and cellular telephone facilities will be reserved for military and rescue operations. In order to halt the spread of this contagion, our nation's borders with Canada and Mexico have been sealed. No longer seek shelter in private residences no matter how safely protected or well stocked. Retain all ownership records of private property but do not attempt to transport or defend such property. Rest assured looters will be prosecuted with deadly force, as will any attempts at vigilantism or secessionist political activity. No questions.
- [Kenneth and Ana meet three other survivors traveling the opposite direction.]
- Michael: You do not want to go that way.
- Ana: What's that way?
- Michael: Officer? Sir? You do not want to go that way.
- Ana: Get the fucking gun out of my face!
- CJ: Oh. You got a quite mouth on you.
- Bart: Somebody should show her how to use it.
- [Kenneth and Andre are in the washroom by themselves]
- Andre: You're the type of cat that goes to church and all that shit, right?
- Kenneth: Yeah, I do all that shit.
- Andre: So what do you think? What is this? Is this the end of times? 'Cause if it is, I'm fucked. I'm serious. I've done some bad things.
- Kenneth: Oh, I get it. You saw hell yesterday, now you're scared of going to hell for all the bad things you've done. Go in the stall, say five Hail Marys, wipe your ass, and you and God can call it even.
- CJ: Terry, go shut 'em off.
- Terry: It's Bart's turn.
- CJ: You're the trainee, man.
- Terry: Shit rolls downhill.
- [Mall security and Andy play game of sniping zombies that look like celebrities]
- Ana: You guys had rough childhoods? A little bit rocky?
- Steve: Hey, sweetheart, let me tell you something. You have my permission - if I ever turn into one of those things, blow my fucking head off.
- Ana: Oh, yeah, you can count on that.
- Glen: I guess the first time I knew I was gay I was 13. This guy, Todd, he was building a deck in our backyard...
- CJ: Ok, just, please, stop.
- Glen: He had the most astonishing blue eyes.
- CJ: Oh, my God! I'm in hell. [Starts doing pushups]
- Frank: You want... every... single second. [about life as he dies of the infection.]
- Bart: CJ, wait up, wait! [as he is chased down by a zombie horde.]
- Andre: You wanna kill Luda? You wanna kill my family? [to Norma before they exchange gunshots.]
- Norma: Son of a bitch shot me! [to Ana after Andre shoots her.]
- Andy:[on radio] Hey, does this dog got a name? [to camera] I'm not gonna tell 'em how bad it is. I won't worry 'em. It's, it's gonna be okay. I think I'm just gonna rest here a minute.[after being bitten severely, becomes zombie shortly after lying down.]
- Tucker: Shoot me! Shoot me! [to CJ while he is devoured by zombies.]
- Monica: You've got to drive faster, man. [to Kenneth before being accidentally hacked to death by Glen.]
- Glen: I've got 'em. [about a zombie before accidentally killing Monica and crashing the bus.]
- Steve: [before being pounced on by a zombie] What the fuck?
- CJ: [before killing himself and the zombies grabbing him by blowing up the bus he is in.] Fucking figures.
- Michael: Yeah, I think I'll just stay here awhile. Enjoy the sunrise. [to Kenneth before they leave him and he shoots himself in the head due to him being infected.]
- When the undead rise, civilization will fall.
- When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.
- How do you kill what's already dead?
- 36 billion people have died since the reign of humanity. For the new Dawn, there's a reunion...
About Dawn of the Dead (2004 film)
- The Walking Dead, Gencarella asserts, “is part of another shift, post-9/11, in which the ghouls fill in for presumed ‘outsiders’ to the nation — but a nation that is limited only to a worthy few.” 9/11 imagery cropped up unintentionally, and largely incidentally, in Danny Boyle’s innovative fast-zombie film 28 Days Later, made before the attacks; its sequel, 28 Weeks Later, was in essence a critique of America’s militaristic overreach in the attacks’ wake. But the opening credits of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake wed the terror of its depiction of the zombie apocalypse’s first harrowing hours with pointed stock imagery and mockumentary footage of Muslims and Arabs, setting a precedent for the rightward swing of the subgenre’s “us against them” political undertones.
- Sean T. Collins, "The Fascism of The Walking Dead", Vulture, (Dec. 13, 2016).
- The contrast between this new version of "Dawn of the Dead" and the 1979 George Romero original is instructive in the ways that Hollywood has grown more skillful and less daring over the years. From a technical point of view, the new "Dawn" is slicker and more polished, and the acting is better, too. But it lacks the mordant humor of the Romero version, and although both films are mostly set inside a shopping mall, only Romero uses that as an occasion for satirical jabs at a consumer society.
The 1979 film dug deeper in another way, by showing two groups of healthy humans fighting each other; the new version draws a line between the healthy and the zombies and maintains it. Since the zombies cannot be blamed for their behavior, there's no real conflict between good and evil in Zack Snyder's new version; just humans fighting ghouls. The conflict between the two healthy groups in the Romero film does have a pale shadow in the new one; a hard-nosed security guard (Michael Kelly) likes to wave his gun and order people around and is set up as the bad guy, but his character undergoes an inexplicable change just for the convenience of the plot.
- Unlike the tight little group of survivors in "28 Days Later," this one expands to the point where we don't much care about some of the characters (the blonde with the red lipstick, for example). But we do care about Kenneth (Ving Rhames), a gravel-voiced cop with hard-edged authority. We care about Michael (Jake Weber), a decent guy who tries to make the right decisions. And we care about Andre (Mekhi Phifer), whose wife Luda (Inna Korobkina) is great with child and will give birth at any moment; the way that plot plays out is touching and horrifying. We even work up some feeling for the guy marooned on the roof of the gun shop across the street, who communicates with Kenneth by holding up signs.
- Polley, whose career has found footing in smaller projects outside the studio system (including roles in Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter and Isabelle Coixet's My Life Without Me), explained that she needed a bit of coaxing from the filmmakers before she'd sign onto the film. "I met with Zack [Snyder, the director,] and Eric [Newman, the producer] one night at a restaurant, and they convinced me they were going to make a really sort of daring, sick, twisted movie that was going to be true to the allegory of consumerism that was in the original."
- Like Polley, the rest of the cast members joined the film for reasons other than fealty to Romero's classic. Rhames looked at the story as a metaphor for tumultuous times rather than a literal interpretation of the source material, which itself is ripe with social commentary. "I didn't see the original, and in general I'm not a fan of the horror genre," admitted Rhames. "But from reading the script, I don't really put this film in that category. To me, it just so happens that our nemeses are zombies, but it could be any life-threatening situation."
Rhames observed that the cast of characters reflected a decidedly more multi-cultural slant than in other recent films. "What I liked about it was, I thought it's bringing people from different ethnicities, different cultures together who need each other. So when I look at the world, I really say unfortunately, sometimes it's an atrocity; let's say 9/11; that forces us to come together. When I read the script I had no concept of what the zombies would look like; I just said, it's interesting to find these groups of characters in the situation." As he also acknowledged, it didn't hurt to have a steady hand behind the camera to keep the proceedings organized: "I also looked at Zack's reel, he has a very good commercial reel, and what I did was I turned down the volume, and I just watched how he moved the camera, and how the camera told the story. After that, I said, you know, I think this guy has a lot of potential, and I'd like to be a part of the project."
- Jake Weber's motives for signing on to a Dead remake were a little less obvious: "I wanted to make an art film." Weber was kidding, but he did go on to reveal that he, like Polley, was convinced by the picture's directing-producing team to take on a role that might not naturally receive; much less deserve; his attention. "I met these guys in New York, and they were talking about Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and I loved that movie. I loved the idea of making a smart horror movie, a movie that was a lot of fun and is punk rock and fierce and wild but also is about real people."
Having completed the film, Weber set his sights high on the predecessors whose company this new Dawn of the Dead keeps. "I think the bar for this movie is Phil Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Halloween, I think 28 Days Later gets in there. I think Alien, which kind of a little more sci-fi, but still has elements of this, [or] The Shining." His comparisons, he clarified, were not so much qualitative as they were examples of effective approaches to a clich-laden genre: "I mean, those are the kinds of movies that are quality films that are in that genre that are terrifying."
- Polley's taste for horror, somewhat unsurprisingly, ran to more obscure movies than those of her costars, and found that their unconventional pleasures gave her better motivation than if she'd merely researched the endless string of slasher movies that have proliferated over the last two decades. "I love movies like Peeping Tom and those sort of classic movies, and I actually thought of that movie a lot while we were shooting this, about what is the most frightening thing is the look of fear. You realize as an actor you can just sort of wander through a movie like this, but actually you have to work harder in a movie like this than in any small character-driven piece, because your fear sells the audience on being afraid."
Polley admitted that she did occasionally lose her way while filming the many scenes of death and dismemberment, but felt confident that the finished film was something George Romero would be proud of. "As we were shooting, I often wondered what was I doing, but I saw the movie last night for the first time, and I was shocked to see that the movie was exactly what they described to me that first time. Completely sick and twisted, and made by incredibly perverse people."
- Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, "INTERVIEW: THE CAST OF DAWN OF THE DEAD", IGN, (18 Mar 2004).
- Q: You've said somewhere that you felt Zack Snyder”s 'Dawn of the Dead' remake was a bit like a video game in itself?
“I thought it was, yeah. I sort of thought it lost its reason for being. I know a lot of people really like it very much – Stephen King, for example. I didnt like it very much. Basically, because I was using the idea for satire. My film needed to be done right when it was done, because that sort of shopping mall was completely new. It was the first one in Pennsylvania that we had ever seen. The heart of the story is based in that. And I didn”t think the remake had it.” – November 2013 interview with the Telegraph
- George Romero in ”George A Romero: the Sight & Sound Interview” by James Blackford, BFI.com, (17 July 2017).
- The idea of Zack Snyder being a political filmmaker is hilarious in any respect. He is stereotyped more for being so in awe with the art direction, production design and costumes of his films that he never realises how lacking in quality the final products are. But ever since his debut film, his 2004 remake of George A Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, a right-wing political allegory has always been so central to the narratives of his works it can hardly be described as subtext.
The time has come for us to now understand that this is more than mere coincidence. As The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin wrote in a recent appraisal of Snyder as a “latter-day Ken Russell”;
“Romero’s original was a bleak and timely consumerist satire, in which zombies shamble around a suburban shopping mall on lizard-brain instinct. Snyder’s version abandons that, and instead uses zombies as an allegory for western fears of “otherness” – immigrants, refugees, Muslims, you name them. This time, civilisation is the mall, about to be swamped by a rising tide of subhumans – although as the film’s ultra-bleak finale makes clear, any distinctions between “them” and “us” are ultimately meaningless”.
Despite this allegory, the subversive screenplay by Guardians of the Galaxy director w:James Gunn\James Gunn ensures there was an intended satirical bite, that Snyder’s overwrought direction rendered moot. One of the complaints of his remake was the refusal to linger on the faces of the zombies, therefore “dehumanising” them in the eyes of Romero.
- Alistair Ryder, "Zack Snyder: The Master of Right-Wing Propaganda", Film Inquiry, (April 22, 2016).
- Q: The most common criticism of your film is that it doesn't go as deeply into sociology as Romero's film—I disagree with that read, I don't think the original is all that deep and, in fact, I think that your picture has a broader, subtler, more satirical edge.
- Snyder: I feel like it does, too. One of the comments I've made is that when Romero made his movie, mass consumerism was a really fresh topic, y'know, something that we were first waking up to. People were more unaware that they were living in a mass consumerist society, but now, man, if people don't know that we're living in a commercial, a cynically commercial, society now, a movie ain't gonna wake you up to it. We took a lot of time and effort on the satirical structure--even the construction of the mall was meant to reflect this corporate vision of our world. A sophisticated aesthetic to give the illusion of uniqueness when the truth is that it's mass-produced, manufactured, and given over to the illusion of specialness.
- Q: The most effective part of the film is told through a walkie-talkie exchange—no gore at all.
- Snyder: I agree--that whole sequence was a lot different in the script. There was never any kind of communication/interaction with Andy; there was just this extended sequence with like a dozen trained dogs rescued from the mall pet store, outfitted with little wagons that ran across the parking lot and transferred all this ammunition from Andy back to the people at the mall. They'd trot over there, trot back--but on the way back, they're attacked by zombie dogs. It was a huge sequence, twenty pages, and I said first of all, I don't know if we can afford this, it's insane--and second of all, what are my humans doing during all this? We're gonna follow these dogs around for twenty minutes in the middle of all this? [Screenwriter] James [Gunn] did a great job, but he really just went off on this weird kick.
- Snyder's career actually began in controversy, with the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. The original Dawn of the Dead is perhaps the greatest zombie movie ever made, a shambling attack on American consumption that shows zombies staggering around a mall, winking at the way many of us anesthetize our deeper feelings and thoughts through buying crap.
It seemed an odd fit for a director whose previous credits were all commercials and music videos. And it's fair to say that Snyder's version largely eschews nuance in favor of being awesome. Instead of stumbling and shuffling, his zombies sprint. Instead of a not-so-veiled attack on consumerism, his movie would be more of a take on post-tragedy community building. It was a horror flick, sure, but without any of the psychological tension that propped up the original.
Above all, it was a flat-out thrill ride. In Snyder's Dawn of the Dead, the zombies didn't have to mean anything, because they could run, headlong, after their prey. Somewhat fittingly for the diminishing returns Snyder has yielded throughout his career, the best thing he's ever directed are the first 10 minutes of Dawn of the Dead. I've embedded a portion of them below, as well as the film's terrific opening credits.
Watching those two clips will give you a good sense of some of Snyder's strengths. For one thing, he's terrific at casting strong actors. (In Dawn of the Dead, that distinction belongs to Sarah Polley, as a young woman watching her world go to hell.) For another, he's a master of montage editing, where seemingly disconnected moments bump up against each other in ways that create new connections and contrasts. (Those opening credits are a tremendous example.)
The clips (particularly the first one) also hint at some key elements of Snyder's aesthetic. For one thing, he uses far fewer medium shots than most directors. He likes alternating between wide shots (as when the protagonist observes the chaos devouring her neighborhood) and shots that zoom in close on his actors, to a variety of different degrees (as when we see her worried expression as she takes it all in).
When Snyder does use medium shots, he uses them in weird ways. Take the short moment where our hero talks to the man across the street who's holding a gun. Both characters are filmed in mid-shot, but Snyder puts them both in the same frame exactly once (when we see the man across the street over her shoulder, as if we're standing behind her).
Blink and you'd miss this shot. Most directors would give us at least a few lines of dialogue while the two shared the same frame, but not Snyder. They're never in the same frame while talking to each other.
The medium shot is the cinema's version of normalcy. Certainly, there are several where something huge happens, but a lot of the time, cinema uses the medium shot to break up the "pay attention to me!" panoramas of the wide shot and the forced intimacy of the close-up.
That Snyder doesn't really use them in the first place, let alone typically, gives his work a heightened feel — everything subconsciously feels bigger than it otherwise might.
Indeed, you'll note that the scene from Dawn of the Dead I've described above mimics the look of another visual medium: comic books.
- Emily VanDerWerff, “Why Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder keeps ruining comic book movies”, Vox, (Mar 30, 2016).
- Sarah Polley — Ana
- Ving Rhames — Kenneth
- Jake Weber — Michael
- Michael Kelly — CJ
- Mekhi Phifer — Andre
- Ty Burrell — Steve Markus
- Kevin Zegers — Terry
- Lindy Booth — Nicole
- Michael Barry — Bart
- Boyd Banks — Tucker
- Inna Kurobkina — Luda
- Jayne Eastwood — Norma
- R.D. Reid — Glen
- Matt Frewer — Frank
- Kim Poirier — Monica
- Bruce Bohne — Andy
- Ken Foree — Televangelist
- Tom Savini — Sheriff Cahill
All context information in [brackets] quoted from www.imdb.com