Original: Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, Jake Weber, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood, Boyd Banks, Inna Korobkina, Kim Poirier
When approaching a remake of George A. Romero's sacred zombie masterpiece Dawn of the Dead, screenwriter James Gunn and first-time director Zack Snyder wisely went in a whole other direction.
While honoring Romero's film, through Easter eggs of actors' names, cameos by original stars, and retaining the basic premise (survivors trapped inside a large shopping mall as flesh-eaters try to break in for dinner), Gunn and Snyder also changed several key elements: In addition to upping the number of still breathing characters, they followed the 28 Days Later...model and turned the undead into fast-running predators, not slowly lurching ghouls.
Thus, Dawn of the Dead 2004 is more about adrenaline-rushing action, never abandoning horror (gore and tension remain intact) but moving at a breakneck speed, unlike Romero's movie, which administered its horror with more patience.
Before the Dawn of the Dead remake came out, haters were ready to pounce upon a rookie director ballsy enough to touch their beloved Romero creation; shortly after its release, though, mouths were shut, box office receipts piled up, and the new millennium was treated to one of its best zombie flicks.