Now, it’s always been tricky when approaching a remake, especially when you look at the original. If it’s a classic, then the remake, well, it has a lot to live up to. It has to do something radically different or original in order to at least make itself stand out a little. And, naturally, it has to be good. Thankfully, Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead manages to do just that. Not only does it add a bit of a spin of the zombie mythos, but Snyder is also able to add his own touch. Now, it’s not as good as the original, but it’s still a solid movie in its own right. So, let’s take a closer look at it, shall we?
Packed with more blood, more gore, and more bone-chilling, jaw-dropping thrills, Dawn of the Dead – Unrated Director’s Cut is the version too terrifying to be shown in theatres! Starring Mekhi Phifer, Ving Rhames, and Sarah Polly in an edgy, electrifying thrill-ride. When a mysterious virus turns people into mindless, flesh-eating zombies, a handful of survivors wage a desperate, last-stand battle to stay alive…and human. The survivors find themselves barricaded in a shopping mall and, with the legion of the dead growing by the minute, devise a plan to try to save themselves from a gruesome undead fate.
The opening ten minute movie is as perfect as horror movies get. They are absolutely exhilarating. The movie throws you into a scenario where you have no idea what’s going on. Everything seems fine and, as horror movies go, things collapse. But here, it’s executed so masterfully, so perfectly, that it’s impossible not to watch. It remains probably one of my favorite moments in a horror flick. Sadly, once the opening credits are done and over with, the rest of the movie just doesn’t live up to what the opening promised. Still, I think it’s a good movie that’s worth checking out, but it loses a bit of momentum as our main characters make their way to the now iconic shopping mall and deal with the threat at hand.
To compare it to the original Dawn of the Dead by Romero, the characters are more one-dimensional and the social commentary is dialed way back, mostly to make room for more zombies, more fight scenes, and a hell of a lot more gore. As a remake, it’s not better than Romero’s original, but that goes without saying, but, still, don’t hold it against this movie. If you’re a fan of horror movies, you’re going to enjoy this flick, no question. Sure, we get the cookie-cutter characters who make some really dumb moves throughout the movie, including one baffling shoot-out that, while it kind-of makes sense, it’s also a ridiculous move on the part of the characters. Still, it’s a fun movie that plays along with the relative low standards of current horror flicks.
There are scares to be found and, for those who like over the top gore, you’ll love the final break-out attempt by the main cast. There are a lot of great moments, including one insanely bloody accident involving a chainsaw (it’s never like chainsaw accidents end up good, anyways). It’s packed with some solid “jump” moments, bucks of the red stuff, and some really inventive camera work. Like I said, the opening pre-credit sequence is one of the best in horror cinema.
Piled with blood and guts, while Dawn of the Dead may be a weak remake of the Romero original, it’s still a solid movie by today’s standards. And, given that this Blu-ray contains the unrated “Director’s Cut” with some added bloody chunks here and there, fans will undoubtedly get more of their fill here. It’s a solid horror movie by today’s standards, likely one of the best to come along in years considering how stale the horror genre has become save for the odd breakout here and there. Dawn of the Dead provides plenty of chills and thrills and while it may not be a good remake of the Romero original (since it basically chucks all of what made Romero’s original so powerful), the solid main cast and effects should keep you glued to the screen until the bloody end. So, for anyone looking for a good scare, then the Dawn of the Dead remake comes Recommended.
Arriving as part of a trio of horror flicks, Dawn of the Dead: Unrated Director’s Cut lands on Blu-ray in similar fashion to its previous DVD and HD-DVD releases. The disc itself comes in a standard Blu-ray case, complete with an insert advertising other Blu-ray films as well as disc art that mimics a selected portion of the cover art. Menus for the film are laid out in the same way as all Universal Blu-ray’s and are simple and easy to navigate—no fuss or confusion about it. What there will be fuss over is the way the extras are presented, but that seems to be the norm for Universal Blu-ray releases it seems.
Before we get into the extras, however, we come up on the all-important technical area. Dawn of the Dead looks fantastic on Blu-ray with an excellent amount of clarity and detail being packed into the image making for a clean image throughout the film. Of course there is a bit of grain to contend with, but overall the film looks fantastic, with solid black levels and even the goose bumps on characters arms being clearly defined. Sweat, blood, and guts all fly into the screen with exceptional clarity. The audio arrives in the form of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and makes full use of the surrounds on more than one occasion. Zombie sounds are thrown all around the room and shotgun blasts rattle the walls. All in all a fantastic representation for this film.
Moving towards the extras we get the feature commentary from director Zack Snyder and producer Eric Newman, which makes its return from the 2004 DVD release. The track remains jovial and entertaining and is worth a listen if you’re a fan of the film (or of Snyder). Plenty of cool information is dropped here, all the while remaining light hearted—this is a zombie film, after all. Unfortunately that’s it for the “straight up” extras, as the rest are tucked away inside Universal’s U-Control function for the Blu-ray disc, meaning you have to go through the film waiting for the pop ups or individually selecting them from the U-Control menu. It’s kind of a pain to go through it this way, but those who really want to see the extras (or haven’t from the previous releases) will have no choice. I’ve no idea if all of the footage is included here or not either, as I’ve never seen the original release so I’ve nothing to compare it too; I imagine most, if not all, is tossed in as there are quite a few chapters loaded with the picture-in-picture footage.
Overall a solid release, but one of mixed quality. Tech specs are fantastic, as one assumes they should be, but the extras make it a bit of a mixed bag. It’s certainly exciting to watch this film in high-definition, but unless you’re a huge fan of the film you may just want to Rent this one first. Newcomers, however, will find this one easily Recommended.
Dawn of the Dead: Unrated Director’s Cut is now available on Blu-ray.
This review was co-written by James Harvey (film portion) and Zach Demeter (Blu-ray portion).