“When there is no more room in hell… The remakes will walk the Earth”. Here we go again with an original vs its remake. Today we have Dawn of the Dead, the second of Romero’s Dead series. Zack Snyder directed the remake and James Gunn, yes that James Gunn, wrote the screenplay. There is a 26 year gap between both movies so let’s jump into it and see if vintage is better than modern!
The Same But Different
The main things these two movies share are the name and setting. In both films we have survivors using the mall as shelter from the zombies. There are also a few cameos in the remake such as the actor who plays Peter, Ken Foree, who comes out as a televangelist saying his famous quote from above. We also see the actor who plays Roger for a second as a general, and Tom Savini the leader of the biker gang. He comes out as the county sheriff telling people where to shoot the zombies. Besides these few similarities, these movies are as different as night and day.
Not So Fast
The main difference between the films is definitely the zombies. The original has the typical Romero zombies that aimlessly walk around slowly just waiting for their prey. They move at a slow pace and are easy to run through. The zombies in the remake are fast and chase after their prey unless they find an easier target. The zombies from the remake also are much more aggressive. These zombies are not the kind you can just walk by. You will get ripped to shreds.
Less Is More
The second biggest difference is the characters. Romero’s story centers on four main characters. A pregnant Fran, Steve, Peter, and Roger. They four go into the mall and clear it of zombies to make it their haven. In Snyder’s remake has a larger array of characters. The story begins with Ana who meets up with Kenneth, Michael, Andre, and Andre’s pregnant girlfriend Luda. They go to the mall where they find CJ, Bart, and Terry. Soon after they get a truckload of other survivors who are too many to name. This makes the stakes higher as there is more room for characters to die, whereas in the original we only have the four to worry about.
The endings are also very different. In the 1978 version only Fran and Peter are left after the biker gang breaks in. Peter is about to kill himself and made Fran go to the helicopter without him. At the last minute Peter changes his mind and rushes to join Fran, and together they fly away from the overrun mall. In the 2004 version, after Michael gets bitten he stays behind while Ana, Nicole, Kenneth, and Terry ride a yacht to an island they believe is not infested with zombies. In found footage style we see that they made it to the island only to be greeted by a horde of zombies. Their fate is left unknown but clearly not favorable. The ending of the 1978 version leaves viewers with a little more hope for the protagonist than the 2004 one does. It makes us believe they may have made it.
The Original Devours The Remake
It is hard to determine which film is better since both are executed so differently. Unlike Night of the Living Dead,Dawn of the Dead seems like two separate movies all together. There is no real similarities except the name. That being said, I do think if we put both against each other, the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead wins. The zombies may be scarier and faster in the 2004 version, but the original had more behind it. The original touched on consumerism and focused more on the characters. There was the undertone of humans being the real monsters as well. Compared to that, the remake seems a bit hollow and just another horror film.