15. Dawn of the Dead (2004, Zach Snyder)
Mini malls really creep me out, and I blame the two versions of Dawn of the Dead for this fear. After all when you are wandering the mall late at night or even during a lonely afternoon, the people start to appear zombie-like, and besides after an hour of stumbling out of the boring shops and dealing with annoying employees who want you to buy something you don’t need, you start to wonder how you would respond if the entire world went to shit. Well George A. Romero when making the 1978 version mediated upon how our capitalist consumer driven society would eventually rather literally devour itself, bringing on our destruction. Zach Snyder on the other hand decided to keep the zombies while leaving most of the political elements out, although he still takes time to mediate upon race and class to a limited degree. And that’s fine, because he was unlikely to top what the original brought to the table anyways, and besides the remake features an equally strong cast. Oh and the gore is all there. Plenty of gore. With fast-moving zombies, which at first I wasn’t a fan of and now I don’t mind even though it doesn’t make sense if you think about it. Of course zombies really couldn’t exist anyways. At least I hope so. Really I do.
Not only do assholes survive the apocalypse-CJ is a jerk who ends up being one of the movie’s coolest characters-but also its the ordinary people who often step up. Ana proves to be surprisingly tough and is a nice well fleshed out female character. Kenneth proves to be the natural leader, while Michael is a steady and calming influence on the group. There are others, yet the movie centers largely on these four simply because they have the best screen presence and the most impact upon what happens. Dawn of the Dead is a ferocious, brutal, unflinching remake that doesn’t pull any punches and has some great dark humor, too. Its funny how remakes get bashed so much when one of the best horror films of all time (John Carpenter’s The Thing) is a remake and some of them are actually quite good. Just goes to show you can’t always prejudge films before you watch them.