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Face-Off: 28 Days Later Vs. Dawn of the Dead (remake)

06.24.2013by: Mike Catalano
I had a pretty good inkling that we all would agree with the victor of our last Face-Off, which highlighted two gorgeous, often bikini-clad horror hotties of summer. The beauty of Katrina Bowden was no match for the bodaciousness of Kelly Brook. Regardless, I think everyone had a happily horny time!

Today's Face-Off kinda came as a no-brainer with Mr. Brad Pitt's WORLD WAR Z opening up this past Friday. We had to bring out the modernized zombie flick arsenal and selected two stand-outs that totally brought the walking dead into a brand new, kick-ass era. So, aim your Colt 45s (the gun or the beer) high and prepare to bite into 28 DAYS LATER Vs. DAWN OF THE DEAD '04!

Opening
Psycho rage monkeys! Now that's a helluva way to start off a zombie horror flick. That initial simian attack coupled with the news footage of outbreaks of human violence in the streets instantly sets the tone of this intense flick. Then cut to... nothing. Emptiness. Quiet. Everyone is gone. Everyone except for Cillian Murphy and, regretfully, his peesh. Points off for the peesh.
Now, here is one kick-ass way to kick off a zombie film. We dive right into the seemingly normal snippet of a hospital nurse's (Sarah Polley) life as she leaves her shift for the day. She heads home, says hi to a neighborhood girl, and relaxes with her man. Then, she wakes up... to a literal nightmare. The neighborhood girl has entered their home and is NOT well. She kills Sarah's man and almost kills Sarah. After escaping, Ms. Polley drives through a community spiraling into violent chaos. It's poetic and beautiful in the sickest of ways.
Hero Survivors
Once he's wearing clothes, Cillian Murphy makes for a pretty fantastic zombie apocalypse hero. He goes from a simple, pre-apocalypse delivery guy to a bad-ass, army-guy-killin' survival man. Pretty intense character arc. And I've gotta give special mention to Naomi Harris's "Selena" and her sharp machete. That is one strong horror heroine icon!
Dawn certainly showcases a lot of interesting survivor personalities. I'm going to focus on the top three - Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, and Jake Weber. Sarah does a perfectly serviceable job as the female lead, emitting both distraught pain and nicely subtle strength. Ving brings his bad-ass game big time! And Jake is very admirable as the regular Joe who uses the apocalypse to shine.
Zombies
The rage-infused undead of 28 Days ushered in Zombie 2.0 - a new era of zombies that could actually move fast! Surviving the apocalypse just got a hell of a lot harder. Worst of all? These zombies are also damn fast on the turnaround, meaning once you get bit, you're ready to rise and hunt for flesh in a matter of seconds! That's one scary force to be reckoned with.
Again, Dawn '04 capitalizes on the precedent set by 28 Days by making its zombies extremely fast on their feet. There are massive hordes of them too, making it nearly impossible to go out in any open area. The turnaround rate is a tad slower here, which is good for the humans that realize any random bites, but not so hot for the zombie initiative looking to make a fast impact.
Best Kills
There aren't a lot of great zombie-death kills, per say here, however the most intense of kills occurs when Selena chops a guy with her machete even though she wasn't sure he was a zombie. The guy's eyes were certain, though. The final significant kill comes when, outnumbered, Cillian summons the strength to overcome a soldier and, in order to protect Selena and Hannah, jams his thumbs through the soldier's eyes.
Thankfully, the zombies do get plenty of cool comeuppances in this one. We get one sharp pool stick through head, appropriately splatterific gunshot blasts, and some bodies set ablaze. But what really impressed and enthralled me was any time a truck backed up and ran over any zombie that got in the way. It looks so real and so f*cking fun that I get horror fanboy goosebumps every time! Run those undead bastards over!
Ending
Selena and Hannah are about to be used against their will as mankind's next means of procreation and Cillian Murphy is literally storming the castle to their rescue. The chaos commences with a freed zombie prisoner that begins attacking and transforming all the mean soldiers as Cillian gets his girls to safety. Then, the chance of a happy ending is all but ensured as the trio spells out "HELLO" on the ground as a helicopter is flying by. Surprisingly uplifting.
Fed up with the mall, the group decides to put together some totally souped-up vans and bust out to a boat and possible sea-worthy freedom. Some shit goes down and only one van ends up making it, however the survivors are able to make it to the boat but... Michael's been bit! Ving and Sarah must sail off waving good-bye to their fallen friend as he blows his brains out. Tragic. But... as the credits roll, we are treated to video footage of the survivors making it to an island, but oh shit! Zombies are there too! Double tragic! And pretty killer!
Dawn of the Dead '04
Oh shit! Oscar-winning director be damned! It's a MAN OF STEEL helmer that takes this bought! And a remake! How do you guys feel? Do you think 28 Days deserved to be crowned king of the zombies? Or does Dawn rightfully deserve the crown? I'm really looking forward to reading your comments below, so make sure you aim for that undead prick's head and fire them bullets away! And feel free to send any future Face-Off ideas to me at mikecatalano@joblo.com.

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