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Feature: Dawn of the Dead

Dead America

The mother of all zombies, maybe

In 1978 Dawn of the Dead brought a new horror. Now a new version brings bigger, faster and smarter zombies…

The Human race is under siege from the Dead again. It’s the dawn of the last day on Earth. The streets of America have become a post-apocalyptic urban wasteland with burning cars, smouldering helicopters crashed into buildings, rioting, and scores and scores of slime-drenched monsters roaming the streets. They’re different from the creatures we’ve seen before in such films as Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead and, arguably, the greatest of them all, 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. The new Dead are bigger, faster, and smarter than their zombie predecessors. Some of them walk around with chunks of their heads missing. They’re also a lot of tougher than the last batch – harder to kill, more flesh-hungry – and it takes a lot of bullets to kill them. You have to shoot them in the head and kill their brains. They only die if you kill their brains real good. Dawn of the Dead has arrived.

A new and mysterious virus has swept across America, turning all of the world’s dead into flesh-eating monsters. According to the makers of the new Dawn of the Dead film – more of a revival than a straight remake of writer-director George Romero’s immortal 1978 classic, say this new film’s makers – this updated version will expand and improve upon many of the first film’s ideas. “For years, I resisted the idea of a Dawn of the Dead remake, especially after the poor reception that the Night of the Living Dead remake received, but I really do think it’s ripe for a remake,” says producer Richard P Rubinstein, a former business partner of Romero’s who, aside from producing the original Dawn of the Dead, also produced Romero’s Creepshow and Knightriders. “I remembered how we shot Dawn at Monroeville Mall near Pittsburgh and we could only film after regular business hours and we could only do half-a-day’s worth of exterior shooting a week, and we made the film for about $600,000. Basically, the whole film took place in the mall, and George didn’t have a lot to work with besides the skating rink, but he did an amazing job. I thought, ‘What if we could do Dawn again with a big budget, big effects and a great cast?’ Producer Eric Newman approached me, I loved his passion for the original film, and then Eric brought in James Gunn to write the script. I think it’s going to turn out.”

by David Grove

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Photo © Universal Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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February 2004
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