Adventures & Insights

One man's adventures in the physical and intellectual worlds…

Comparative Cinema: Dawn Of The Dead


When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead shall walk the Earth.

It’s Halloween! Well, nearly so this comparison is naturally going to be drenched in scary! At my blog-buddy Thoughtsy‘s excellent suggestion I’m going straight for the big gun before the end of civilisation the month rolls around. I should mention that if you need info about zombies, Thoughtsy’s probably our foremost expert, having done plenty of research on the topic. I’m pretty sure you’ll find everything you need to know to survive a Zombocalyse amongst her pages.


Dawn of the Dead tells the story of a group of people who, whilst trying to escape the Zombocalypse that has erupted around the World, decide to hole up in a suburban shopping mall. With the zombies working their way into their stronghold, the survivors must cooperate to decide what to do next – before they are dragged kicking and screaming into the ranks of the undead horde themselves!

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

George A. Romero really knew what he was doing when he gave us Night of the Living Dead. The original Dawn of the Dead follows the Night, beginning in a chaotic newsroom where reports and information are being equally confused as the Earth falls under the expanding terror of a zombie apocalypse. Francine, a head reporter for the TV station, flees with her co-worker and two SWAT cops in the station’s helicopter and make an attempt to find proper safety.

Needing fuel and supplies, the group soon finds a shopping mall and set down on the roof to gather what they need. When they re-assess their situation, they decide to stick around and make the mall their home while they figure out what to do next because it turns out to be very defensible. They set about making the mall their fortress and soon they are safe and comfortable in their impenetrable home.

As time passes, our heroes find themselves not only keeping the zombies at bay but also having to find ways to combat their own sense of isolation. As cracks begin to show, a group of marauding survivors smash their way in, triggering an ultimate battle for survival!

Without a doubt, the original version is an absolute classic. It offers a generous dose of horror and gore, coupled with an interesting social commentary about some of humanity’s mindless followings and habits. A movie crafted by the King of the Zombies, Dawn of the Dead is a movie that will never lose any of its impact on viewers.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

This remake offers us a viewing experience that has the main characters completely unaware of the previous Night. Young nurse Ana makes her way home after a long day at the hospital; the only hint that something is awry being a significant increase in human assaults and cases of biting attacks. Ana relaxes for the night with her husband, only to awaken to an unbelievable scene. Her husband is killed right before her eyes by their neighbour – who happens to be maybe twelve years old.

In a state of panic, Ana soon finds herself in the company of a police officer as she tries to make sense of the chaos that has exploded in her city and as the pair attempt to get to an army station they meet another three people who have decided that they would rather be safe in the local shopping mall than head to an aid station that has been overrun. With no other immediate options, the group bunk down in the mall to plan their next move.

Five become eight as our initial group runs into the mall guards and necessity forces them all to make do with the uncomfortable arrangement of sharing the mall. With one of the crew heavily pregnant, the mall is locked down and everyone settles in for a bit of a stay. Of course,  the undead need to feed their appetite for human flesh and it’s only a matter of time before plans need to be revised. A marauding gang is replaced in this version by more pleasant survivors, but it all ends up at the same crossroads.

What distracted me about the remake was the fact that the zombies got speed. Somewhere between 1978 and 2004, the shambling undead became an even greater threat through their discovery (or the memory) that they could run. I will readily admit that it does add a further element of terror to know that you now need to be able to outrun these suckers (or at least the person in front of you) but it just never really sat right with me.

One nice touch was the inclusion of a few cameos from some of the original cast. That will always win brownie points with this viewer.

Both versions are definitely worth a watch. The story is a strong one that holds itself together well, delivered before this particular line of Zombocalypse flicks started getting corny. Honestly. You CANNOT train a zombie.

Are there any movies you’d like to see me compare and contrast?

Add your suggestions in the comments!


4 responses to “Comparative Cinema: Dawn Of The Dead

  1. thoughtsappear October 25, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Awwww…you called me a zombie expert.

    Nice review! Whenever I watch a zombie movie, I always wonder if the zombies in it are going to run. Have you seen The Deadlands by Gary Ugarek? I was able to meet him. His zombies run.

    • Christian Emmett October 25, 2011 at 9:48 am

      You’re an expert in my book. 🙂

      Thanks, I haven’t seen The Deadlands but will keep an eye out for it now. I keep seeing Dead Snow at the DVD store now and might have to watch it after your brilliant review.

      How exciting was it for you meeting Gary Ugarek? That must’ve been pretty thrilling! Look at you, hobnobbing with all sorts of celebrities.

  2. skippingstones October 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I had to watch the remake, because it looked interesting – and I’m a sucker for interesting. Only once, though. I did think it was good, but ever since then, bits and pieces of it will randomly pop into my head. And I saw this maybe a year after it came out. I’m still sad about that guy at the end. I really liked him on Medium. Hmm…he didn’t make it out of that show, either.

    Wasn’t Ty Burrell in the remake? I’m thinking he was an asshole kind of character who said to shoot him in the head if he ever became a zombie, which as soon as you hear that, you know what’s eventually coming.

    • Christian Emmett October 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      It was unfortunate that we lost him, I was hoping he’d make it. I haven’t seen a lot of Medium, but enjoyed what I did manage to watch. Shame he didn’t last there either!

      And yeah, Ty Burrell was that guy. He played his character excellently, I’m pretty sure that everyone who saw the movie would have loved to be the person pulling the trigger when the time came. *lol*

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