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Dawn of the Dead

Promotional poster
Directed by Zack Snyder
Produced by Richard P. Rubinstein
Marc Abraham
Eric Newman
Thomas Bliss
Written by James Gunn
Scott Frank
Michael Tolkin
George A. Romero
(1978 screenplay)
Starring Sarah Polley
Ving Rhames
Jake Weber
Michael Kelly
Kevin Zegers
Mekhi Phifer
Inna Korobkina
Music by Tyler Bates
Cinematography Matthew F. Leonetti
Editing by Niven Howie
Studio Strike Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) March 19, 2004
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28 million
Gross revenue $102,356,381

Dawn of the Dead is a 2004 American horror remake of George A. Romero's 1978 film of the same name. The remake and original both depict a handful of human survivors living in a shopping mall surrounded by swarms of zombies, but the details differ significantly. Directed by Zack Snyder and his directorial debut, the film was produced by Strike Entertainment in association with New Amsterdam Entertainment, released by Universal Pictures and stars Ving Rhames, Sarah Polley and Jake Weber with cameos from original cast members Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger and Tom Savini.



After finishing a long shift as a nurse, Ana (Sarah Polley), returns to her suburban neighborhood and her husband, Luis. Caught up in a scheduled date night, the two miss an emergency news bulletin on television. The next morning, a neighborhood child enters their bedroom and kills Luis who immediately reanimates as a zombie and attacks Ana. She flees in her car, but eventually crashes and passes out. A montage of news footage depicts zombies overwhelming civilization around the world.

Upon waking, Ana joins with Police Sergeant Kenneth Hall (Ving Rhames) and jack-of-all-trades Michael (Jake Weber), as well as petty criminal Andre (Mekhi Phifer) and his pregnant wife, Luda (Inna Korobkina). The group breaks into a nearby mall where a zombified security guard attacks and bites Luda. They are also confronted by three living guards — C.J. (Michael Kelly), Bart (Michael Barry) and Terry (Kevin Zegers) — who make them surrender their weapons in exchange for refuge. The groups secures the mall, then heads to the roof where they see another survivor, Andy (Bruce Bohne), who is stranded alone in his gun store, across the zombie-infested parking lot.

The next day, a delivery truck carrying more survivors enters the lot, with zombies in close pursuit. C.J. wishes to turn them away but is outnumbered when Terry sides with the new arrivals. C.J. and Bart are disarmed while the newcomers go inside. They include Norma (Jayne Eastwood), Steve Marcus (Ty Burrell), Tucker (Boyd Banks), Monica (Kim Poirier), and Glen (R.D. Reid), as well as Frank (Matt Frewer) and his daughter, Nicole (Lindy Booth). Another woman (Ermes Blarasin) is severely bloated and too ill to walk; she is wheeled inside via wheelbarrow only to die and reanimate soon after. After she is killed, the group determines that the disease is passed by bites. Andre leaves to see Luda and the group realizes that Frank, who has been bitten, is a potential threat. After some debate, Frank elects to be isolated. When he dies and turns, Kenneth shoots him.

Another montage shows the survivors passing time in the mall and various relationships developing, including Kenneth and Andy starting a friendship by way of messages written on a whiteboard. The group bonds over dinner when the power goes out. C.J., Bart, Michael, and Kenneth head to the parking garage to activate the emergency generator. They find a friendly dog but are attacked by zombies, who kill Bart. The remaining men are trapped in the generator compartment where they douse the zombies with gasoline and set them ablaze.

Meanwhile, Luda, in the advanced stages of infection and tied up by Andre, goes into labor and dies. She reanimates and the baby is born. Norma checks on the couple and, seeing Luda is now a zombie, kills her. Andre snaps completely; they exchange gunfire, killing them both. The rest of the group arrives to find a zombie baby which they immediately kill. The remaining survivors decide to fight their way to the local marina, and travel on Steve's yacht to an island on Lake Michigan. They begin retrofitting and reinforcing two shuttle buses from the parking garage for their escape.

Andy is dying of starvation, so the group straps a pack of food and a walkie-talkie onto the dog, Chips, and lower him into the parking lot. Andy calls for Chips, who is of no interest to the zombies, but one gets in the door of the store before Andy can close it. Nicole, worried about Chips, takes the delivery truck and crashes into the gun store, where she is trapped by a zombified Andy. Kenneth, Michael, Tucker, Terry and C.J. head through the sewers to mount a rescue. They reach the gun store, saving Nicole by killing Andy. They grab weapons and ammunition and go back to the mall; along the way, Tucker is killed. Once inside they are unable to lock the door, forcing an evacuation.

Everyone piles into the buses and they navigate through the city. Glen loses control of a chainsaw, accidentally killing himself and Monica; blood splatters on the windshield causing Kenneth to crash the bus. A zombie attacks Steve as he tries to escape. C.J. exits the first van to look for crash survivors with Kenneth and Terry. They encounter the undead Steve but Ana kills him. She retrieves his boat keys, and they take the remaining bus to the marina. There, C.J sacrifices himself so the rest of the group can escape. Michael reveals he was bitten and Ana watches him kill himself, leaving Ana, Kenneth, Nicole, Terry and Chips as the only survivors.

A montage of footage from a camcorder found on the boat begins with Steve's escapades before the outbreak, and concludes with the group running out of supplies before finally arriving at an island. They disembark and are attacked by another swarm of zombies. The film ends with the dropped camcorder recording dozens of zombies chasing them, leaving their fate unknown.



James Gunn is only partially responsible for the screenplay, despite receiving solo writing credit. After he left the project to concentrate on Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, both Michael Tolkin and Scott Frank were brought in for rewrites. In a commentary track on the Ultimate Edition DVD for the original George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, Richard P. Rubinstein, producer of both the original and the remake, explained that Tolkin further developed the characters, while Frank provided some of the bigger and upbeat action sequences.

The mall scenes of the film as well as the rooftop scenes were shot in the Thornhill Square Shopping Center in Thornhill, Ontario and the rest of the scenes were shot in the Aileen-Willowbrook Neighborhood of Thornhill, Ontario. The set for Ana and Louis's bedroom was constructed in a backroom of the mall.[1] The mall was defunct, which is the reason the production used it; the movie crew completely renovated the structure, and stocked it with fictitious stores after Starbucks and numerous other corporations refused to let their names be used[1] (two exceptions to this are Roots and Panasonic). Most of the mall was demolished shortly after the film was shot. The fictitious stores include a coffee shop called Hallowed Grounds (a lyric from Johnny Cash's song "The Man Comes Around," which was used over the opening credits), and an upscale department store called Gaylen Ross (an in-joke reference to one of the stars of the original 1978 movie).

The first half of the film was shot almost entirely in chronological order,[1] while the final sequences on the boat and island were shot much later and at a different location (Universal Studios Hollywood) than the rest of the movie, after preview audiences objected to the sudden ending of the original print.[1]

Deleted scenes

Scenes cut from the film's original theatrical release were added back for the "Unrated Director's Cut" DVD edition. Along with gore effects removed to obtain an "R-rating",[2] they include a clearer depiction of how the survivors originally break into the mall, and a short scene where the character of Glen "tortures" the imprisoned C.J. and Bart with his reminiscing about his homosexual coming-of-age. The DVD also offers, as a bonus feature, several more scenes which were not included in any version of the film, including an expanded version of the fictional live broadcasts shown in the mall's televisions, which chronicles the zombie infection in the USA and around the world.


In the UK, both this film and Shaun of the Dead were originally scheduled to be released the same week, but due to the similarity in the names of the two films and plot outline, UIP opted to push back Shaun's release by two weeks. It was screened out of competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.[3]

The film has received generally positive reviews from both moviegoers and critics. It holds a rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes.[4] Roger Ebert said the film "works and it delivers just about what you expect when you buy your ticket" but felt that it "lacks the mordant humor of the Romero version" and the "plot flatlines compared to the 1978 version, which was trickier, wittier and smarter".[5] George A. Romero is quoted as saying of the film, "It was better than I expected. ... The first 15, 20 minutes were terrific, but it sort of lost its reason for being. It was more of a video game. I'm not terrified of things running at me; it's like Space Invaders. There was nothing going on underneath."[6] Bloody Disgusting ranked the film eighth in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article saying "Truly, you can analogize the two films [original and remake] based on their zombies alone – where Romero’s lumbered and took their time (in a good way), Snyder’s came at us, fast, with teeth bared like rabid dogs."[7]

Box office

The film grossed over $59 million at the box office,[8] (over $102 million worldwide[9]) and is one of the few zombie films to make over $100 million at international box-office.[10] Its success also launched the career of director Zack Snyder, who would go on to direct 300 and Watchmen.

Comparisons to the original

In the original film, the zombies moved very slowly and were most menacing when they collected in large groups. In the remake the zombies are fast and agile, and are, on the whole, closer to the quick-moving, psychotically violent victims of the 'Rage' virus in the 2002 British horror film 28 Days Later and the zombies of 1985's Return of the Living Dead than the traditional shambling Zombie archetype. Many admirers of the original, as well as Romero himself, protested this change, feeling that it limited the impact of the undead.[11] This is somewhat borne out by the fact that the remake has almost no close up shots of zombies that last more than a second or two. Snyder mentions this in the commentary track of the remake's DVD, pointing out that they seem too human when the camera lingers upon them for longer.

In the original George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, as in Night of the Living Dead, all 'recently dead' are reanimated by an unidentified source. Zombie bites seem to somehow induce rapid death, and subsequent reanimation, even though death by any manner will result in reanimation of the dead as well. The cause is never fully elaborated upon, but news reports in the first film imply that the cause is radiation from a space probe to Venus that was destroyed and landed back on Earth. In the remake, it springs up worldwide overnight, and is most likely a blood or saliva-borne infection, relying on zombie bites for transmission (like rabies). In the original, anyone who dies for any reason returns after several minutes (so long as their brain is intact). In the remake, only those bitten return and after a period of less than a minute after death.

The original had a smaller cast than the remake, allowing more screen time for each character. Many fans and critics criticized the resulting loss of character development.[12]

In the original version the story unfolds over several months, indicated by the advancing stages of Fran's pregnancy. In the remake the events transpire within approximately 1 month, as evidenced by the supplemental feature The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed, located on the DVD in the special features section.

Three actors from the original film have cameos in the remake, appearing on the televisions the survivors watch: Ken Foree, who played Peter from the original, plays an evangelist who asserts that God is punishing mankind; Scott H. Reiniger, who played Roger in the original, plays an army general telling everyone to stay at home for safety and Tom Savini, who did the special effects for many of Romero's movies and played the motorcycle gang member Blades in the original Dawn of the Dead, plays the Monroeville Sheriff explaining the only way to kill the zombies is to "shoot 'em in the head." Monroeville is also the location of the mall used in the 1978 film. In addition, a store shown in the mall is called "Gaylen Ross," an obvious nod to actress Gaylen Ross, who played Fran in the original film.

Additional references to Romero's original Living Dead movies include: A sign for "Wooley's Diner" can be seen, a nod to the character of "Wooley" in the 1978 version. The character Tucker's name is a reference to Roy Tucker, one of the SWAT team members in the original. A truck from the BP corporation is seen, the same company as in the original. The WGON helicopter from the first film is seen flying into the frame in one early sequence. The film's tagline, "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth", is the same one from the first film, and is delivered in both films by actor Ken Foree. Both films have a similar line concerning the concept that zombies were returning to the mall out of instinct for repeating activities from their previous lives. An obese and infected woman is brought into and transported through the mall in a wheelbarrow. This is homage to the wheelbarrow used to carry goods and to transport Roger in the original. The mall-dwellers' ultimate escape plan echoes a similar attempt by a group of ex-policemen at the start of the original Dawn, while the remake's opening sequences contain at least two possible references to the original Night of the Living Dead film: a car crashes into a gas station and explodes, and the female lead crashes her car into a tree.

Referenced in popular culture

In Episode 6, titled Bite Me, of the sixth season of television show Medium, Bridgette DuBois informs her parents that there is a zombie movie marathon on television. Her father, Joe DuBois, played by Jake Weber from the 2004 Dawn of the Dead film, responds by saying "They're not running the one where everyone gets trapped in the mall, are they?".

A special hour-long episode of 6teen titled "Dude of the Living Dead" features the six teens as they fight for thier lives while trapped in the mall overrun by zombies.

See also


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Dawn of the Dead is a 2004 horror film about a small band of survivors who take refuge in a shopping mall as a plague of zombies overruns the earth. A remake of Dawn of the Dead, the 1978 George Romero film of the same name.

Written by George A. Romero (1978 screenplay) and James Gunn (screenplay). Directed by Zack Snyder.



  • [While her husband tries to staunch the flow of blood from a bite to his throat, Ana desperately dials 911, only to get repeated "busy" signals.] Don't do this to me! Please, don't DO this to me!
  • The bites killed her, the bites brought her back.


  • I feel like I'm here for another reason. I feel like I'm here to bring that baby on this earth, and give it everything that I never had. I just want the opportunity... to change things.


  • I don't believe in God. I don't see how anyone could.


  • [About the deaths of Luda, Andre and Norma] There's nothing to be said. I been to a lot of funerals, folded the flags, givin' them to mothers, wives, sons, and told them how sorry I was. But that's not what I was really feeling. In the back of my mind, I was always thinking better them than me. But I don't believe that now. And now I know that there are some things worse than death. And one of them is sitting here waiting to die.
  • [En route to the marina, zombies swarm against Kenneth's bus.] They're trying to turn us over! Hit them with the saw!


  • I think I'll just stay here awhile... enjoy the sunrise.


  • Televangelist: Hell is overflowing! And Satan is sending his dead to us! Why? have sex out of wedlock. You kill unborn children. You have man-on-man relations; same sex marriage! How do you think God will judge you? Well, friends, now we know. When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.
  • Sheriff Cahill: [on TV] Danny, put another round in that woman over there! Look! She's a twitcher!
  • CJ: Let me see if I grasp this concept, okay? You’re suggesting that we take some fucking parking-shuttles and reinforce them with some aluminum siding, and then just head on over to the gun-store and watch our good friend Andy place some cowboy-movie-jump on the covered wagon-bullshit. Then, we're gonna dive across the ruined city through a welcome-committee of a few hundred-thousand dead cannibals, all so that we can sail off into the sunset on this fuckin' asshole's boat?


Reporter: Are these people alive or dead?
Official: [pause] We don't know.
Press Secreatry: The president has direct contact with the CDC and head of FEMA. No further quest-OH MY GOD!


[Kenneth and Ana meet three other survivors traveling the opposite direction.]
Michael: You do not want to go that way.
Ana: What's that way?
Michael: Officer? Sir? You do not want to go that way.
Ana: What's that way?
Michael: It's pretty bad.
Kenneth: What about Fort Pastor?
Andre: Maybe if you had wings. The road's thick with those mother fuckers that way.
Kenneth: How do you know?
Andre: We just tried.
Michael: ..Back when there were eight of us. [pause] We're going to the mall.

[Three armed security guards don't want company in the shopping mall.]
CJ: Find someplace else.
Michael: Look, we just need a place—
CJ: Maybe you didn't hear me.
Michael: There is no place else.
CJ: Well, that's tough shit, 'cause this is our place, and you can't stay here.

CJ: Okay. Come out of there slowly, and hand your weapons to Bart and Terry.
Kenneth: Don't do it!
Andre: You must be out of your fucking mind.
CJ: Then you can take your ass over to Quality Inn if it's still there, Shaq! Huh? Want to do that?

Terry: You can't just turn them away, CJ. You'll kill them.
CJ: Tough shit. Self-defense.

Ana: The bleeding is not going to stop on its own. I need to suture his arm.
CJ: What are you, a fucking doctor?
Ana: No, I'm a fucking nurse.

CJ: Whoa-whoa-whoa! Where do you think you're going?
Andre: She's not going anywhere alone.
CJ: Oh, "She's not going any —" This is a fuckin' nursery school! Terry, go with 'em.

Michael: So, what's the plan?
CJ: The plan is, you drink a nice tall glass of shut-the-fuck-up!

Bart: Want to hear something that really sucks? You guys know that, that chick at Dairy Queen?
CJ: The fat one?
Bart: Yeah. She was coming over tonight. I would have tapped that shit for sure.
Terry: Bart — dude, everybody's dead, okay? Your mom's dead. Your brother's dead. That fat chick at Dairy Queen… dead.
Bart: Yeah. That sucks too.

Andre: [to Michael] Hey, my man... I hear you talking' a lot, you know, you're always saying' something... Who the fuck are you, that we should listen? Were you, like, in a special ops unit? You in the marines? What the fuck do you do?
Michael: I sell televisions at Best Buy.
Andre: Hey, officer! How do you like following a guy that sells TVs?
Kenneth: About as much as I like following a guy who steals them. I'm not following anyone. I'm going to Fort Pastor to get my brother.

Andre: Now, you're the type of cat who goes to church and all that kind of shit, right?
Kenneth: Yeah. I do all that kind of shit.
Andre: So what you think, hmm? What is this? Is this the end of times? 'Cause if it is, I'm telling you, I'm fucked. No, I'm serious. I've done some bad things in my life, man.
Kenneth: Oh, I get it. You saw hell yesterday, and now you're scared of going to hell for all the bad things you've done. I'll tell you what: go in the stall, say five Hail Marys, wipe your ass, and you and God can call it even.

CJ: Yeah? And how do you know they're not fucked up like everybody else out there?
Ana: Well, for one thing, they're driving a truck. [Distant gunfire] Oh, and shooting guns.

Michael: That truck's not gonna make it to Fort Pastor.
Steve: No, forget it. That place is fucked, man. Bloodbath city.
Norma: We just came from there.
Kenneth: Is everyone there dead?
Steve: Dead-ish.
Kenneth: Is everyone there dead?!
Steve: Yeah, in the sense that they all sort of, uh, fell down, and up, and...started eating each other.

Ana: [after covering the body of the fat lady] Anybody know her name?
Tucker: Died without a name? Damn..

[On the roof, some of the survivors are playing "Hollywood Squares" by having Andy shoot zombies who resemble celebrities.]
Steve: Oh, oh... uh, Rosie O'Donnell! Tell him to get Rosie.
Kenneth: Yeah, Rosie.
Tucker: Nah, too easy. Give him something hard.
Ana: You guys had rough childhoods, didn't you? Kind of rocky?

Steve: Hey, sweetheart, let me tell you something. You, uh, you have my permission. If I ever turn into one of those things? Do me a favor. Blow my fucking head off.
Ana: Oh, yeah, you can count on it.

Ana: It's nice to see you busting your ass.
Steve: Oh, that's sarcasm. That is so awesome. You know, I would love to help, but the captain never works alongside his men.
[Dangles his keys in front of Ana and Tucker and then makes a cracking sound, like a whip]
Steve: Well, you guys have a good one.
Ana: What a total dick.

Michael: Look, there's no point in arguing about this, all right? We need a solution. We-we need to get some food over there.
Steve: Okay, uh, I have an idea. We, uh, we draw straws, and the loser runs across the lot with a ham sandwich.
Ana: Could you be a bigger prick?
Steve: Probably, but that's irrelevant.

CJ: I ain't going anywhere without a gun.
Michael: You're not getting a gun.
CJ: Trust. The primary ingredient in any relationship.
Michael: [tosses him an axe] Have at 'em, cowboy.
CJ: Asshole.

Last Words

Frank: You want...every...single second. (about life as he dies of the infection.)
Bart: CJ, wait up, wait!" (as he is chased down by a zombie horde.)
Andre: You wanna kill Luda? You wanna kill my family? (to Norma before she sparks a gunfight.)
Norma: Son of a bitch shot me! (to Ana after Andre shoots her.)
Andy:(on radio) Hey does this dog got a name? (to camera) I'm not gonna tell 'em how bad it is. I won't worry 'em. It's, it's gonna be okay. I think I'm just gonna rest here a minute.(after being bitten severely, becomes zombie shortly after lying down.)
Tucker: Shoot me! Shoot me!(to CJ while he is devoured by zombies.)
Monica: You've got to drive faster, man.(to Kenneth before being accidently hacked to death by Glen.)
Glen: I've got 'em. (about a zombie before accidentally killing Monica and crashing the bus.)
Steve: [before being pounced on by a zombie] What the fuck?
CJ: (before killing himself and the zombies grabbing him by blowing up the bus he is in.) Fucking figures.
Michael: Yeah I think I'll just stay here awhile. Enjoy the sunrise.(to Kenneth before they leave him and he shoots himself in the head due to him being infected.)


Works Quoted

All context information in [brackets] quoted from

See also

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