Dawn of the Dead 04 Unrated Director’s Cut (2004)
Director: Zack Snyder
The dead come back to life and bring civilization down. We follow a group of survivors as they lock themselves up in a shopping mall in the hopes of avoiding the army of Olympian-like sprinting dead who want to chew on their sirloin steak asses! RUN!!!!!
The plan is you drink a nice tall glass of Shut The Fuck Up - CJ
Thank Athena’s undergarments for DVD! Filmmaker’s have finally found a medium to have their movies seen intact! To be honest, this remake i.e. re-imagining i.e. selling a film on name recognition of George Romero’s definitive zombie picture "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) didn’t appeal to me from the get-go. And when I saw it in the theatres, I came out bummed and asked my friend (Kermit the Frog hand-puppet) “Did I just see a movie?” But now that I’ve boogied with the Unrated Director’s Cut DVD, my tune has changed where pretty much all of the qualms that I had with the theatrical version were fixed up. Damn Studios! Stop underestimating your audience and lay off the filmmaker’s work! That’s why they’re directors and YOU’RE NOT! GRRR!
Dawn of the Dead 2004 the Unrated Director’s Cut started on the right bone-crack with an energetic opening which delivered tension, tagged with a semi-sense of awe. Seeing a classic suburban setting ravaged into an absolute, chaotic nightmare was quite a trip and the insane anarchy on display was much appreciated by this jerk. There’s nothing like the end of the world to put a smirk on my stupid face. Once in the mall; this definitive cut of the picture thankfully conveyed the character development I was craving when sitting through the snipped up theatrical version! Individuals didn’t turn a new leaf at the drop of a dead tramp here; there was momentum to their changes. THANK YOU! Furthermore the execution of the subplots (like the “baby” one) didn’t feel choppy anymore, pretty much everything happened in a well paced manner within this un-diced narrative structure.
Moreover, the flick’s stellar ensemble cast gave the affair beyond able support! Ving Rhames (the man IS presence), Jake Weber, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Mekhi Phifer and Sarah Polley, in particular, had me in their pockets the whole way. What a fine group of actors! Emotionally, there was one relationship in the movie that actually did manage to touch me (down there that is) and that was the one Rhames had with that duder across the street. It was well executed in its simplicity. Toppings wise, we get ample gore (even more so in this unrated version) which was refreshingly mostly executed in a practical fashion. Heads exploded real well, bites were nasty, the brutal surprises were knee slapping (chainsaw…) and I was cheering like an Ethiopian with a McNugget down his throat!! Finally, the sassily directed wham-bam action sequences hit the spot when they kicked in hardcore with electrifying chases and enthralling shootouts up the King Kong wazoo!
On the putrid side of the corpse; we still got a couple of slim fast characters and relationships on hand. That “pooch loving” chick was dating that guy? Didn’t know! And were those characters I was supposed to care about or “Canadian Actor” with “dead” carved on their foreheads? Looked like the latter to me. Who was that blonde bimbo again? Why was that “boat dude” so one dimesional? EXACTLY! Who cares! Moreover, the human vs. undead conflict was generally absent for the middle section and I never felt that the outside zombies were much of a threat. The fact that thousands of undead piled up against a glass door couldn’t break it down (the glass is shatter proof, you see) surely didn’t help in upping the stakes. Toss some flesh-craving ghouls in that freaking mall already! Have them ride the mechanic plane for all I care! WE NEEDED THEM IN THERE!
Then there was that one plot turn that pissed me off in its stupidity and lapse in logic. Yes that gal risking all in the name of her dog, followed by the “gang” risking all in the name of that gal and some guns. I guess nobody ever thought of risking anything to save that poor Schmuck across the street 3 days ago. He wasn’t good enough. It took a dog in peril for them to go over! Bugh! I’ll never get over that one! The last nail in my decaying grey matter was the zombies themselves. Why were they running like the T-1000 on crack again? Last I heard, when you’re dead...you get a little stiff in the limbs, no? That’s why zombies usually lumber! Somebody forgot to tell somebody that the baddies in "28 Days Later" (the obvious inspiration) were not real zombies but humans infected with rage; that’s why they sprinted! It’s not the same thing as being dead! So it didn’t make much sense to me here.
So overall, this Unrated Director’s Cut of Dawn of the Dead 2004 worked as a straightforward, polished up and mucho graphic action/zombie flick. It wasn’t the smartest bimbo in the whore house and didn’t have the layers of Romero’s original but was worth the sit down on its own none the less. Guns, blood, funny lines, the undead, mayhem, chaos, my sex life (yes all I date are zombies)…it was all there! I’ll say it again…THANK THE KING OF ZOMBIES (Jesus) FOR DVD!
It was messy and red and this Unrated Director’s Cut went even further! We get a crow bar in the eye, a stick through the neck out the top of the head, lots of heads blown off, mucho gunshot wounds, a nasty chainsaw slit, legs sawed off, a legless zombie, zombies run over violently by trucks and lots of nasty bites. Most of the gore was “old school” and if there was CGI…I didn’t pick up on it. NICE!
Sarah Polley (Ana) did what she had to do very well. It’s about time she sold out and made a mainstream flick! I guess her pretentious airs decreased over the years. I can watch Ving Rhames (Kenneth) peel potatoes for 2 hours and be fascinated, the same happened here. I just love the guy and relished his every second onscreen. There is only ONE Ving Rhames! Jake Weber (Michael) was solid as the “straight man”, emanating an endearing inner-strength through his performance. Mekhi Phifer (Andre) beat the limited screen time he was given and actually managed to give his role some true depth. Good work, my man! Ty Burrell (Steve) was dead-on hilarious as the “jerk” and Michael Kelly (CJ) was grade-A as the Capt. Rhodes knock-off. What a strong cast!
T & A
We get Kim Poirier showing her ta-tas and her fine butt during a sex scene. And was that bush I saw? My “pause” button is used up and doesn’t work anymore! We also get a hasty tit shot via the end credits. The ladies get Ving Rhames looking like Ving Rhames….the GREAT MOFO that he is!
Snyder did an admirable job serving up some uber-stylish camera angles, well-staged attack scenes, some show-stopping slow motion and groovy “zombie running” – cam shakes bits. I dug his jive!
We get a clever use of light ditties played for effect, some pop rock, some heavy tunes and a gloomy score by Tyler Bates. Decent.
IMAGE: Widescreen 2.35:1 16:9 Enhanced
SOUND: Dolby Digital 5.1
The Lost tape- Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed (15 minutes): This feature had that gun dude from across the street talking to a video camera. We see him go through depression and lots of drinking as the undead try to break in. I didn’t buy it. Maybe because it was out of context but all I saw was a guy acting. It felt like a bad “one man show” play to me and I didn’t need this on my Dawn of the Dead DVD. I did dig on the inter-cut of his castrating wife and cute kid though.
Special Report- We interrupt this program (21 minutes): I don’t know if it’s because I’m in a pissy mood today but I didn’t buy this feature either. This bit was basically a slew of fake News reports, on the scene Reports and press conference all having to do with the Zombie epidemic. A- I didn’t believe that it was real - B- I just didn’t give a shit – C- I stooped the feature 10 minutes in…Zzzzz
Undead Scenes with Director (Zach Snyder) – Producer (Eric Newman) Commentary (11 minutes): This feature offered us 12 deleted scenes that played one after another. The scene themselves were nothing to jump off a bridge over but I did enjoy listening to the good humored commentary that explained to us as to why the bit were cut out. Decent feature.
Raising the Dead (7:50 minutes): This feature had David Leroy Anderson, the special effects dude come in to talk about what he was going for in terms of the Zombie effects. We get to see some applications being done and the substance at hand was interesting. It was okay.
Attack of the Living Dead (7 Minutes) this feature gave us a more in depth look as to how they accomplished the zombie designs through makeup or hiring amputees while giving us insight as to how some the of the effects were created. I really dug this one. Informative and entertaining! Good shit!
Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads (5 minutes) Special Effects dude David Leroy Anderson came in to enlighten as to the many ways in which they got the explosive head effects to work in the picture. Nice little “revealing of tricks” feature; I wasn’t aware of a couple of the techniques and appreciated being educated.
Feature Commentary: This feature length commentary had Director Zach Snyder and Producer Eric Newman come in to talk shop. Zach introduced his director’s cut on camera (seems like a nice chap) before the film began and then we were off! This commentary was highly compelling with both dudes complementing each other well. We get lots of trivia about how things came to be, personal comments on specific scenes and mucho behind the scenes tidbits. Thanks for the commentary guys! It was a great listen!
This Unrated Director’s Cut just went to show that filmmakers aren’t always responsible as to how their toddlers see the light on the big screen; often enough, the molesting Studio has had its dirty way in the editing room before we get to see the picture. Now, the only thing this update had in common with Romero’s multi faceted classic was that zombies ruled the earth and there was a mall. Other than that, this re-imagining was on its own. Say "goodbye" to the subtext or the ample circumstantial humor of the original, and say "hello" to a more typical, gory, well acted and razor sharp zombie shoot 'em up. I say if you can put the original Dawn of the Dead aside for two hours, you’ll enjoy this grisly and macabre “first person” like shoot them up! If you can’t do that, stick to the original; either way, you win! And one more thing, see the Unrated Director’s Cut! It was a much redder, complete and better film!
Ken Foree popped up as preacher on TV saying the same line he said in the original “When there’s no room in hell, the dead will walk the earth”.
Tom Savini also showed up in a funny cameo as a Sheriff.
Scott Reiniger (Roger in the original) has a cameo as a General.
Matt Frewer aka Max Headroom has a small role here.
Lindy Booth and Kevin Zeguers played lovers in "Wrong Turn".
James Gunn (of Tromeo and Juliet fame and Scooby-Doo infamy) wrote the screenplay for this movie.
Stay tuned for a surprise during the end credits.