At this point, virtually every classic horror movie has been remade or rebooted, but one of the first reinventions remains among the finest. 2004’s Dawn of the Dead put a high energy twist on George A. Romero’s 1978 original, and along with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later it went a long way to popularizing the sprinting zombie after the undead had spent decades depicted as interminably slow shufflers.
Not only did it reinforce the viability of remaking established titles for modern audiences after raking in over $100 million at the box office on a budget of $26 million, but Dawn of the Dead is still widely regarded as one of the best updates of a horror classic, and also holds a strong Rotten Tomatoes score of 75%. Not only that, but it was among the first credits for two future heavy hitters of the industry, with Zack Snyder making his feature length directorial debut and James Gunn tackling the script.
If a movie was made with those two attached these days, it would be a guaranteed smash hit, but at the time, people were very skeptical about the idea of two relative unknowns remaking what is widely considered the greatest and most influential entry the zombie genre has ever seen. Gunn recently took to social media to reveal what convinced him to write the script in the first place, though, and here’s what he had to say:
I loved the original movie (I had the poster on my wall in high school) so I was, like, why redo it? So we took the mall & the zombies & that’s about it as far as plot goes. I just thought, what’s another way this could go? https://t.co/qLtKByJxhy
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) October 11, 2020
A love of the source material is never a guarantee that the remake will be a success, of course, but Gunn upended everything about the original apart from the bare bones of the concept, and as a result, the Dawn of the Dead remake can comfortably stand shoulder to shoulder with Romero’s original.