Dawn of the Dead

Remakes of horror movies, almost without exception, can be pretty painful, and not in a good way. But here is one notable exception, and you shouldn’t let your entirely understandable fear and loathing of remakes keep you from experiencing the best (and some would say the only good?) movie that Zack Snyder ever made: the remake of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead.

The first scenes in an idyllic suburban neighborhood, where the cute little girl goes from your happy neighbor to a cannibal stalker virtually overnight, set the tone. And by the time the few survivors of the zombies’ initial onslaught make it to the shopping mall/fortress, the die is cast. Everything about this version, from performances by the likes of Sarah Polley (nominated for an Oscar for screenwriting in 2008) and Ving Rhames (still making those goddamn Mission Impossible movies!), and even that dude from Modern Family still ring true. It is, in fact, one of the few instances where the remake exceeds the quality of the original, and it’s fondly remembered pretty much everywhere, even 15+ years later.

Dawn is also a great example of the early work of James Gunn, who had just emerged from writing Scooby Doo (then returned to write Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed), and would soon create a string of horror and superhero classics, from Slither, which we cover elsewhere, to Super, to the Guardians of the Galaxy Franchise, to the underappreciated Brightburn, and even more with more to come.

Remake notwithstanding, add this one to your essentials shelf.