Halloween Scene: Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead is one of my all time favorite horror movies of all time. I’ll go one further and say it’s one of my favorite movies period. There’s so much greatness in there from drama to horror and really everything in between. It’s a great film. I don’t feel the same way about Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake, but I still like it. I get why fellow fans of the original would dislike this movie which just takes the basic concept of the original–people take shelter in a mall during a zombie apocalypse–and dumped most other things aside from a few other basics (pregnancy, cops in the mall) and made a whole new movie. But, if you just came out with a mall zombie movie, the outcries about it being a Dawn remake would have been deafening. So, I’m okay with it. The basic idea is cool enough that I would be okay with a new remake every few years as long as whoever worked on it moved enough pieces around to make it interesting.

And that’s why I like this remake, the basics might be the same, but the specifics are so different that I get drawn in. Both flicks have female entry points, but the difference between the two movies and characters is pretty huge. Unlike the original we start off in the woman’s house and really get personal with her, even seeing her last love making session with her husband. Then BANG zombie apocalypse is full on. She’s on the run and winds up catching up with other survivors. I like that Snyder kept the idea of a woman getting pregnant in all this mess, but I’m also glad that he transferred that to another character in order to give Sarah Polley’s Ana the opportunity to do lots of other things in the movie like fall for a fellow survivor and really get into the action. Speaking of which, the whole pregnancy thing gets insane in such an amazing and creepy way that I’m still surprised it’s in a pretty big budget studio horror movie. I just shook a bit thinking about it again. Bleh. But in a good way.

Another change I liked about the film is how it opens up a bit. The wide open claustrophobia of the first film is pretty amazing and complex, but there’s also something to be said about these people being proactive and looking to get the heck out of there. The building up of the trucks might be just a little goofy, but it made enough sense and seemed likely, so I was in. And the chainsaw thing is a GREAT idea, though not for a couple of the characters. Snyder seemed to have a good handle on mixing the “have fun with it” mentality with the “this is serious business” one in a way that really hits for me.

So, yeah, I like this movie and I’m glad I picked it up for a buck at a used book store in New Hampshire a month or so back. It’s cool to have different takes on both the zombie genre and a specific story idea like that of the original Dawn Of The Dead. I will say that I’m surprised exactly how much of this movie was borrowed or straight-up swiped for Dead Rising and its sequel–two video games I wished I loved but really wound up disliking. It might seem strange calling this out for a remake of another movie, but it felt at times like whole scenes from the movie were digitized and dropped into those games. Speaking of video games, I actually played Left 4 Dead 2 with my dad on Xbox Live, and I think the intense feeling of that game has helped put me into zombie movies a little bit better. There are scenes that felt exactly like the game with zombies coming on, the character blasting away and trying to push them away without dying. It’s kind of an interesting way that one medium can alter the way you experience another one. Fun stuff.

Go Go Gadget Rave

2008-08-08
3:58:38 am

As you can tell, I’ve been on something of an off and on ’90s kick lately. Mostly I’m just finally getting around to checking out flicks I never got to see when I was younger. I remember seeing the ads for Go (both TV and comic book, remember those?) and was curious (mostly because my fellow Christ the King grade school attendee Katie Holmes was in the flick). Anyway, I realized it was on my Blockbuster queue, bumped it up to the top and here’s what I thought.

Go (1999)

Written by John August (Charlie’s Angels 1 & 2, Big Fish, Corpse Bride)

Directed by Doug Liman (Swingers, Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jumper)

Starring (deep breath) Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes, Scott Wolf, Jay Mohr, Timothy Olyphant, William Fitchner (Prison Break), Taye Diggs, Breckin Meyer, James Duval (Donnie Darko) Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) and Desmond Askey as the British guy

First off, it MUST be said that Go owes something to the films of Quentin Tarantino. Now, I’m not saying it’s a rip off or anything like that, but you definitely get a similar feel, especially with how the dialog is delivered by some the actors (especially Polley). There’s also the whole thing where the movie is told in non-linear segments. Again, not a direct lift, but considering Tarantino borrows a lot of elements for his films, I doubt he’d be too upset.

Okay, so onto the story. We start off with this chick Ronna who may or may not be 17, but is also getting evicted from her place and needs some money so she works an extra shift for her British co-worker. She gets caught up with drug dealers and cops and ends up getting hit by a car and left outside a rave to die. But that’s not all we see of her as we then hop back in time and follow a few other folks’ adventures and eventually see how they all tie together.

In general I like these kinds of movies. The kinds in which a few dumb mistakes lead to all kinds of crazy shit happening. Ronna doesn’t have enough money to pay for the ecstasy (or X as the kids call it), so she leaves Katie Holmes there as collateral. But it turns out that the guys who wanted it (Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf) are actually cops so she flushes the pills and then puts stolen aspirin in the bottle and trades the fake pills for Katie Holmes. She then goes to a rave with her friends (one of whom took TWO of the real pills, which Olyphant strictly forbade) and sells off the rest of the aspirin and allergy pills she stole from the grocery store at a rave. Olyphant (who’s freakin’ terrifying and funny at the same time) shows up, hears everyone talking about how this girl is selling the best X, chases her down and then she gets hit by the care. Holy crap, right? Right.

And that’s just part one. I gotta say, that, even as convoluted as the story may be, it’s a fun one and I definitely appreciate writer John August’s ability to keep so many characters straight and intertwine their stories so well. There’s characters that show up in this segment that show up in the next and everything ties together nicely. From what I hear, Crash is like this too, but I haven’t seen it yet. Plus, it’s crazy to go from this to Charlie’s Angels to working with Tim Burton multiple times.

The next section features the British guy (who works with Ronna and is her usual drug dealer, which is why she jumped up in the food chain and went to Olyphant himself), Taye Diggs, Brecken Meyer and James Duval going to Vegas, shooting a strip club bouncer and implicating Olyphant in said shooting (the British dude swiped his credit card which they used at the club). They head back to LA, which is apparently where the story takes place.

Holy cats, it turns out that Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf weren’t cops themselves, but working off a drug charge by helping Fichtner catch drug dealers. I think they might even be TV stars, but I kind of missed that part (that’s what happens when I get to the part of the movie I’m blogging about, I miss things). Hey Jay Mohr even invokes the title, nice work Jay. Okay, giving a play-by-play from here on out might get a little crazy, so I’m actually going to watch the movie for a while, Be right back…

Okay, movie’s over and it turns out everyone’s okay for the most part. There’s some weird scenes with Mohr and Wolf in Fichtner’s house, he’s married to Jane Krakowski and both he and his wife hit on the dudes (who turn out to be a couple). Anyway, they find out that they were cheating on each other with the same guy who’s at the rave. They’re the ones that hit Ronna with the car, leave and then head back to see if she’s dead and she’s not so everything ends up being okay. Even the British dude gets amicably shot in the arm by the bouncer whom he shot in Vegas.

So, I know I said I wasn’t going to summarize the movies so much, but Go seemed to fit the old style. Otherwise you’d have even less idea of what I’m talking about than I do and that doesn’t make for a very good blog post.

As you can see by this long summation, there’s a LOT going on with this movie and I love that. They don’t slow things down, you’ve just got to keep up or lose, which I like. I assume that’s what this blog can be like at times, especially after I’ve had a few and am on my third day trying to watch something. I also like the moral ambiguity of the ending. All these people who do relatively bad things end up fine and dandy (though I’m not sure if it’s physically possible to get hit by a car and left in a ditch for part of the night and still go into work the next day, but whatever).

In the end I recommend this movie to anyone who likes Tarantino flicks, X, Katie Holmes, crazy intertwining stories and raves. Side note, I’ve never done X, but if it makes you wear day glow pantaloons and dance around with glowsticks like a d-bag, I’m OUT. Just say no to lame, kids.