Celebrating its twenty-sixth anniversary this year, Dawn of the Dead remains the ultimate excursion into the world of societal replacement terror. Revamping the hypnotized Caribbean islander genre, director / writer George A. Romero offers us reanimated, flesh-eating monsters comprised of neighbors, friends and family.
Dropped into the cathedral of American consumerism — the local shopping mall — Dawn of the Dead successfully intertwines horror and social commentary. And it is here we learn that even for survivors, old shopping habits die hard. Managing to shock, stun, and amuse, Dawn of the Dead reveals the absurdities of our world as it comes to a whimpering end.
It is to this which this website is dedicated...
October 13, 2005
It's been a while since I did any updates to The Zombie Farm. Sorry. I do feel the need to go through the whole site to adjust things and do a general tidying up. I still have to get the Virtual Mall back up and running. Does anyone remember that thing? And the links page... that needs an overhaul. So many sites come and go. Plus I need to add some new links.
The main reason (excuse?) for not doing any of this is that I just shot my first film. It's a mini-feature, which means it will have a running time under one hour. The film, entitled The iDol, has nothing to do with Dawn of the Dead; although I did get to sneak in a poster on the wall in one scene (I'm the director after all and can do what the hell I like!).
I put together a site about the film, which you can find here:
The page layout is similar to The Zombie Farm. I guess it's my style! Or maybe I'm just a one trick pony when it comes to this sort of thing.
On the zombie front... I have to say that I'm fairly disappointed with the apathy given to Land of the Dead, while the reviews were great, the audience didn't turn out. And while many fans of the original trilogy gave it solid marks, many got all bent out of shape over the film. Some even went so far as to say that the DAWN remake is better! What?!? I have to laugh at this. For one, the premise of DAWN is stronger than that of LAND. It's more basic and deals with low emotions (for example, survival). The DAWN remake could also build on the work of someone else (yet they still did a crappy job of it). LAND is set in a more challenging plot than any of the other films. This is both its strength and weakness. The original films were fairly simply in this area, which is part of their beauty.
In any case, now that shooting on my own film is done I'll try to get a real update in by the end of the year. However, I am editing and dealing with things such as: looping, Foley, soundtrack creation, graphic creation,FXs, press stuff, and additional pick up shooting. My film is, of course, low budget (and I unabashedly accept investment from any and all!) and so much of this work I have to do on my own. (I do have a staff, of course, but there is a lot of work I have to oversee because of being independent, such as contracts and accounting--which I LOATH!).
June 2, 2005
Land of the Dead
Non-Ruining / Non-Spoiler / Non-Revealing Film Appraisal
It's great to feel vindicated.
What am I talking about? The feeling I got after a recent viewing of a rough edit of LAND OF THE DEAD—George Romero's better-late-than-never entry in his ground-breaking zombie series.
I know that commenting on an uncompleted film is not altogether cool, and if I'd thought that LAND was not up to snuff I wouldn't even bother. HOWEVER, rough cut or not, missing footage and absent insert graphics not withstanding, I was overwhelmed so much by what I saw that I feel the need to come out and proclaim LAND OF THE DEAD as being one of the best genre movies I have ever seen. It is that good. Dare I say,it is that GREAT! In more ways than one, LAND is everything (and more) than what I expected.
So, why is it that I feel vindicated? Simple enough: When stacked against last year's DAWN remake, a film I have stated often enough as being just plain crap, LAND shines through as an example of solid, imaginative filmmaking. It truly is. LAND is inventive; LAND is smart; LAND has tension; LAND is bathed in atmosphere, LAND is populated by gripping characters; LAND possesses a tale that emerges from out of these characters and their situations; in a word: LAND has soul. What's more, LAND has feeding scenes galore! Ones unlike anything seen before.
Unlike the DAWN remake, LAND was obviously not made with an eye toward outguessing and appeasing studio pencil pushers and the content they believe sell tickets. It also doesn't pander to moral watch groups who point their holier-than-thou fingers at everything but their own cultish religions that in my opinion are the TRUE sources of unrest in the world. Instead, LAND says and does what it wants and lets the chips fall where they will. It also strikes me as having been made from a filmmaker's credo, with priority set at what will make for a fulfilling movie going experience. Once again, George Romero proves to be my filmmaker hero.
In some ways, too, LAND goes beyond even all this.
I'm talking about the zombies. They are unlike anything we have seen to date. They have developed into a new order. They have advanced (and if you consider "running" an advancement, I suggest you just go back to your sensory nullifying video games NOW). While I will never root for the zombies, I couldn't help but wonder if the ones here aren't in some way more "human" than the humans in control in LOTD.
Again, I don't want to reveal anything. Just let me say that the parallel to the US and its questionable "war on terrorism" is in full play and on display for those who want to see it. (And for those who don't, like all Romero "message movies", it is easy enough to ignore with plenty more things going on for you to sink your teeth into.)
And as misguided as the DAWN remake was to have almost no gore, LAND goes out of its way to deliver the goods (though how it will be edited down remains to be seen, and even if it is and gets reinserted later, we will get real additions, unlike the false promise of the "unrated" DAWN remake DVD—what a joke that was!). And not only THAT, the majority of the zombie victims are just the members of society who need a bit of zombie induced, flesh removal humility to teach them that in the scheme of things we are all equal.
Don't get me wrong, LAND is not a perfect film. Notably, there is one performance by a "legendary" actor that I found extremely lacking and somewhat on the phoned in end of the spectrum. But I'm not looking for or expecting a perfect film (as I wasn't with the DAWN remake). Despite it not being a perfect movie (and what film is?), it makes up for its flaws by being a movie that has been made with heart and by a filmmaker who understands and adheres to the CRAFT of filmmaking. Even in the shabby state I saw the film this came through. Because of this, I was mesmerized from start to finish. Not only that, LAND has stayed with me. It's with me now. When people ask what is wrong with cinema today, this is my reply: Films are no longer made in a way that they stay with you. They evaporate the moment you walk from the theater, this being good for business as you are soon ready for another quick cinematic fix. Not so with LAND.
So, how does LAND fit in with the series as a whole? In this writer's opinion, while NOTLD is a groundbreaker, I don't find it the be-all end-all as I do with DAWN. And though I like DAY, I can admit that it has many shortcomings. For me, LAND fits in between the peerless DAWN and the classic NIGHT. It is that good.
Furthermore, although twenty-years since the last entry, it miraculously feels part of the series in the way the new Star Wars movies can only dream.
Personally, I dislike films that try to be trendy, drawing inspiration from other current films. LAND is a breath of fresh air in that it feels both retro and modern. It tells its story without trying to persuade viewers that it's hip and for you to be hip too then you'd better get with the program and dig it (as with films such as The Chronicles of Riddick and Bad Boys II). There are no "cutting edge" crane maneuvers or post production shenanigans like in unwatchable films of the S.W.A.T. variety. It is just solid, unobtrusive filmmaking from start to finish. Yet, even so, it is unmistakably Romero through and through.
That George was able to make a film of such high quality on a pathetic budget that I believe to be insulting for a director of his caliber is a testament to his talent. What he has done with fifteen million is proof enough that those obscene budgets many productions get these days are just that: obscene. I've read where people hope this film's success will bring George a budget of 50 million for his next film. Honestly, I hope it doesn't. While a bit more could have seen to it that the movie was shot in Pittsburgh, I for one don't want a hundred million dollar zombie film. That's not what they are about. Zombie films—and I'm talking about Romero helmed zombie films—are personal reflections of the world we live in made by a man who has fashioned a unique and fitting metaphor for the life into which we have all been thrust. LAND is this.
With all that said, I'm simply happy to report that LAND OF THE DEAD is a welcome and wholly satisfying entry in George Romero's zombie series. Now just go and see it!
I take great displeasure in reporting that short-sightedness is alive and well and living at Universal Studios.
What am I talking about? Land of the Dead, of course. While it is fantastic that Universal has coughed up the cash needed for George Romero to create a fourth entry in his Living Dead series, one has to wonder what their true motivation is. Is it to see that George be given the opportunity to return to the genre he created? Or, is it to make a buck? Like anything, a little of both.
However, on closer examination of the facts, how much Universal cares about maintaining the integrity of the Living Dead series pales in comparison to their concern over the return on their investment. Take for example the whole affair about forcing the production to shoot in Canada. Gee, what happened to all the sloganing by US companies to "Buy American" and the near scolding consumers get for daring to buy foreign made products? Seems that when the shoe is on the other foot these companies hightail it to where it serves them best and where they can save a buck. But is Universal really saving a buck after all? The answer is pretty much a big fat "no" thanks to a losing-its-value-by-the-moment dollar.
Addressing this, The Zombie Farm's latest update comes from our writer in the zombie trenches, Brian Ridgway, who has written a well researched piece on the decision (or lack of) for moving the production out of the US. Click here to read it and weep:
Speaking of Universal and money mindedness... While I have no qualms against trying to make a buck, I do when the desire to make that buck overshadows all else. Worse, when the desire leads to a turning of the back on the things that, in this case, made Romero's original productions so great and legendary. And whether one cares to believe it or not, the atmosphere on a set DOES affect the final outcome. Trust me. I know. I've been on more than 25 film sets to date.
It's not as if the studios don't know that what they are doing is for the birds. Like any overreached bureaucracy, they believe that the only method open to them is to control image (the far-reaching lesson of the Vietnam War). In terms of web sites, it seems that they are viewed as a potential source of negativity. In order to combat this, studio PR departments are getting into the practice of rewarding web creators with what I call "dog biscuits": Gift certificates in exchange for banner placements or seats at press conferences with the hope that meeting a "star" and posing a few questions will wow them so much that they will break out the ol' rose tinted glasses when it comes time to giving a film or production a write-up. Well, I do suppose it is better than when FOX tried to sue all the "unofficial" X-Files sites back in the 90s.
I mention this because during the run of the Dawn of the Dead remake, while other smaller and less significant (that is if a fan made web site can be termed "significant") websites devoted to DOTD were given plugs on Universal's Dawn of the Dead website, The Zombie Farm, despite it being the largest and longest running site of its kind, was overlooked. Could this be because I dared speak my mind about the poor approach to the production and saw through their deceptive attempt to generate positive word of mouth on everything EXCEPT a decent production and ultimately a good film, both of which are what filmmaking is all about. (And the site that did get exclusive information from Universal is so poorly constructed from a grammarian viewpoint that you have to laugh at a professional studio like Universal actually giving that site its endorsement.)
To be honest, I'm not such an unreasonable guy. And if I had felt the Dawn of the Dead 04 production was done with some level of integrity I would have been happy to give it a plug. Alas, every step of the production stank of studio lawyers bent on seeing things spun to their liking and that all language pertaining to it fit a specific form. (And don't think I mean this only about DOTD. Nearly all films today are submitted to this office driven mentality.) What I'm saying is that by not even contacting me, Universal showed that they are not only thin-skinned, but that what they are selling is hollow, thought of strictly as product, and, by trying to con fans with a true love of film, are without scruples.
For those who think I'm being hard on the company that is allowing Romero to add another film to his zombie world, I have to laugh. The budget for this film is extremely low for one this ambitious and unforgivable for a series this famous and influential. My sources reveal that the production DOES suffer from a lack of budget and a 20 days too short shooting schedule. The thinking that one should thank Universal for this is the same thinking that insists you should thank your McDonald's boss for allowing you to slave away at minimum wage and, worse, be grateful that you have a job at all. I should point out too that the so-called DOTD remake had a higher budget than Land of the Dead.
Well, Universal's approach strikes me less as filmmaking and more like investment banking. If that's what it is, that's fine. If so, then they should rename their company to reflect what they really are and leave the filmmaking to people who truly love movies.
In the meanwhile, readers can expect honest reports and a bannerless The Zombie Farm. This page is about Dawn of the Dead and has nothing to sell other than that Dawn of the Dead is cool, zombies are neat and a rich metaphor for our lives, and we should never forget that George A. Romero is one hell of a filmmaker!
Now with all THAT said, I'm still excited about Land of the Dead and despite my above mentioned misgivings, am happy that a studio is finally making it happen. Will the film be on the level of George's original trilogy? Probably not. Film is always a reflection of the times, and the world is not the same kind of place it was back then. Then again, LOTD could be great for this very reason! All I know is, despite all, with George at the helm, cool things are in the works.
Oh boy… more than six months between updates! Apologies around, though regular readers know that this is not the place to come when wanting the latest info on zombie related info, or even new info on Dawn of the Dead (if there is such a thing). This site is and always will be an expression of one person's love (mine) of a particular film (Dawn of the Dead). This boils down to mean that I'll update when I can and with what material I can. It also means that I can say what I like and how often I like to say it. That doesn't mean I'll submit people to political tirades (the end of the world is nigh!), bitch sessions about my job (capitalist pigs!), or pictures of my kids (if I had any). It does mean that I'll call it as I see it, such as my review of that lame-o film, the so-called Dawn of the Dead remake. I don't care if my views go against that of my editors at Fangoria (I still respect you guys) or how many millions it took in, or how many people think "it's good for what it is." I still think the film sucked, that the people who made it missed nearly everything that made the first one great, and that it added nothing to the legend of the living dead. Rather, it has managed to confuse younger viewers, who now think that the only way to come back to reanimated life is by a bite from the already living dead. And worse, with the titles of the films identical, confusion reigns as to which film one is talking about.
Well, enough of that...
By now everyone knows the great news, and that is that good ol' George A. Romero has gotten the financing to create a new entry in his living dead series. While somewhat tardy, file it under the 'better late than never' category. I mean, he should have filmed this twelve years ago! But what with the world being what it is — with those with access to financing opting for investment safe knock-offs and the use of barely passable filmmaking talent so as to give the purse holders more control and pull over the production and its (non) creative direction — what can one expect. And as hard as it is to write this, it probably looks like the only reason this film is being made at all is because of the monetary success of that weak ass Dawn of the Dead remake. If that isn't pathetically ironic, I don't know what is.
I guess you can be of the "whatever it takes" attitude and just be grateful that a hole has opened up in the wallet of human kind and allowed the budget for Land of the Dead to trickle out. And I guess you can count me in that crowd as well. But I still have some trepidation. For one thing, the announced casting is a bit off. Not like I think that a guy like Dennis Hopper isn't cool. He is, and he's added much to some fine films. But for every Blue Velvet, he has a My Science Project to show. And as much as I love Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, his acting in it is lost somewhere between The Lone Star State and Mars.
But that's not really the point, which is that one thing I like about Romero's zombie films is that I've never known any of the faces of the actors, with the result being my falling deeper into the film's premise. I might be alone on this one (it's happened before) but I really don't want to see a "star" in a Romero zombie film and have to deal with the baggage that this carries. Even at the sacrifice of better acting, I would prefer to see people with whom I have no prior association. It's like when I first saw the poster for Star Wars Episode 1. I thought it was one of those joke posters where they Photoshop in the faces of known people over the real characters. Even after I found out it was for real I couldn't help but feel "Hey, it's the guy from Dark Man and Rob Roy! Say, isn't that the guy from Train Spotting? Oh, look! It's that bad ass from Pulp Fiction!" It made that Galaxy Far Far Away seem a whole lot closer and a whole lot smaller.
Well, I guess I'm still living in the 60s and haven't gotten in tune with the times (that 'realistic thinking' you know) enough to understand that 'names' are what attract an audience and what justify budgets to the people with the pens hovering over the checks. I suppose it's all one can expect out of these "uncertain times."
Another thing I have to be fair about is that I razed the Dawn remake because it pussied out with an R rating. Land of the Dead too is going the same route, with the obligatory "unrated" DVD to be released sometime down the road. In the case of Dawn remake, I simply see it as a director with no power and no vision. In the case of Romero and Land of the Dead, George has proven that he's willing to buck the system. However, in the years between the unrated release of DAWN and DAY a lot has happened. The system has managed to reign in all vestiges of power and so filmmakers who want to buck the system find themselves bucked instead. In many ways we are living in one step forward, two steps back times.
Also of note is the release of Anchor Bay's 4-Disc Dawn of the Dead set. This is actually very welcome news. The set looks great! The transfers, other than some compression problems that make the smoke filled rooms of the Apartment 107 raid look like an impressionist painting, are stunning. And as I have just bought a 16X9 TV, I'm finally happy that it is presented in this way. It fills the screen fully, making it the closest thing to being back in the cinema.
But, I do have a complaint. This is not about the set, but the fact that some of my material was used in the supplemental sections yet I receive no credit for it. In fact, other people receive credit for my stuff. It's not like I expected anything, and I guess I should have hounded Anchor Bay so I could get my name on it and be "Big Man on the Dawn of the Dead Campus". No big deal. Just glad to see that stuff has made it's way over from the Elite Disc. And I'm thrilled that my monk friend Yoshi and the video I shot of him in his temple in the mountains of Kyoto way back in 1995 live to see the new DVD format. Or at least so I'm told. It's a cookie and I still haven't found it.
Finally, I do have an update to announce. That is that the peerless Brian Ridgway has come up with a talk with George Romero just as the director was about to embark on the shooting of Land of the Dead. Not a tell all interview, but it's always nice to get some info from the man himself. Brian, as you may or may know, has been working on a book about Dawn of the Dead. I for one am eager to see this in print and wholly support Brian and his efforts. Here's where to find it:
Oh, and that reminds me. I recently picked up a book on Dawn of the Dead. Something from Germany by writer Frank Koenig. Imagine my surprise (and annoyance) to find whole sections of The Zombie Farm lifted and translated into the Father Language. Give me a break. As I got the book in Japan I had to pay close to $90 for it. Imagine, further, the irony I felt when I discovered that I'd paid that much just to get my own material tossed back at me and in a language I can't understand. Well, as with the Anchor Bay stuff, at least it tells me that the time I've spent on this site does seem to matter in some small way. Still, the book is impressive and I have to hand it to Frank for getting it made.
I know, I know… I have to get the Virtual Mall up and running. The thing is, I want to get it to display photos in a way that are in advance of my lame skills as a page programmer. Well, I'll figure something out by the end of the year.
I finally saw the "new" DOTD. What did I think? (Does it matter what I think of it?) Well, if you had anything to do with the film's creation you probably don't want to know. As for the rest of you, click the zombie's head to find out:
I don't imagine I'll be keeping this on my website forever, but for now I've got a couple of reviews of the "new" film sent in from some buddies. Read 'em and weep:
Finished not only all the characters, but added a few new ones to the mix. Check 'em out. I also put back the Biohazard section. It's a little different than before, but I rewrote most of it and think it's better than ever. (It's been years since I reread this and I have to say it was nice to relive the memory of standing beside George Romero as he directed zombies.)
And I might add that my site is not down. My STUPID server still goes by this antiquated, measly ten meg an hour transfer rate, so when too many people view my site *POP* it's off the airwaves. Please, don't think I've given up on this site or anything nasty like that. The Zombie Farm remains.
I might also add that I did a bit of searching around the web and was dismayed to find several zombie sites out there that has blatantly lifted material from my site. It's one thing to take a photo or two — I might have scanned them, but I certainly don't own them. But my writing is something else. I mean, how lame can you be to cut and paste another's website? But get this: some guy actually has gone and named his site "zombie farm". Next up on my list of things to do is to redo the links section. Guess what sites WON'T be getting a plug here?
With the remake of DAWN of the DEAD just a week or so away from release, I feel that I have to add a few more thoughts to explain why I still maintain that a remake of DOTD is high on the list of needless things.
First, one thing of note: What's with the running zombies? While I don't have that much problem with running zombies as a concept — we've seen a couple of the reanimated dead in the Romero universe employ a bit of speed here and there — but from the glimpses we've been given it's looking a bit ridiculous and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of what the Romero zombie is all about.
In case you're a reader who has no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain: In MY opinion, the Romero zombie is about mass. That is, the Romero zombie is personified by the group and less by the individual. They are NOT a bunch of sprinters each vying for the glory of the finishing line (in this case, a human victim). Individually, Romero zombies do have personality, but it is almost unnecessary detail. In any case, detail is not what the Romero zombie is all about. Rather, it is a horde of slow moving creatures whose strength comes in numbers. They are a new society at peace with themselves, but not with us.
One on one they are as easy to extinguish as candles on a birthday cake, however they are inexhaustible in their numbers and will always win because of an unending (undying?) persistence driven by an insatiable desire for human flesh. They lull you into a sense of superiority, which opens the door to cockiness, which leads to your making a mistake, which results in your getting bitten, and then, the inevitable: your entry into their ranks. This is how the Romero zombie operates.
However, while this may seem to contradict the above, when one zooms in on the Romero zombie you find detail that does not rest on makeup effects. After zeroing in, you find that the zombies are hardly different from you or I. They are ordinary people and display the ordinary personality of folk you find anywhere, in school, at work — even at the local shopping mall. Thus, by group, I mean to imply that they are zombies linked by an underlying ideology and not just ignoring each other since they are not a source of food. If the remake can keep this aspect of DOTD intact then it will be something, otherwise, for me, it will just be another zombie film and NOT DOTD.
One clear indication that no one involved with the remake was paying attention when researching the source material was the lifting of the tagline: "When there is no more room in hell, the dead will WALK the Earth". From what's been shown, they should have redone this bit too and perhaps rephrased it as: "When there is no more room in hell, the dead will hightail it all over the place like it's nobody's beeswax." Yeah, that would be more fitting to what's being sold in the film's trailers.
Speaking of the trailer, I caught the latest and have to say that it does look sort of cool. (I mean, I DO like zombies!) I also like the look of the ads that seem to be EVERYWHERE on the web. Good marketing! It's all looking… well…. it's all looking rather slick.
And for me, therein lies another problem. It's TOO slick. It's the same trouble with the NOTLD remake. Though low-budgeted, it was too slick for its own good. As anyone who understands Romero, his films are best when they are not slick. Romero films posses something more important than slickness; they have that elusive something that hardly any filmmaker has and all want: style. In my opinion, this is more valuable to a film than a trillion dollar budget. (For an example, look at Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, which I feel is his least interesting film for just the same reason — all his style was drained from the movie due to its glossiness.)
Don't make the mistake of thinking that I'm implying that no one but George Romero should be allowed to make zombie films. He didn't invent the genre, but he certainly gave it his own twist. Other directors, notably Italian directors of the 70s and 80s, made a go of working with the Romero zombie, incorporating its characteristics to fit in with their own films and zombie vision. I think no one has a problem with this, and it has given us fun zombie films such as “Zombie” by Lucio Fulci, "Zombie Holocaust" by Marino Girolami and even “Return of the Living Dead” by Dan O'Bannon. The difference is that these never claimed to be anything but their own films, set in their own zombie universe that work with their own rules about what a zombie is, although, as said, they did utilize elements of the Romero zombie. The difference now is that this new film makes the mistake of claiming to be DOTD yet abandons the rules of the film.
In that vein, I've read where the people who are making this film claim that it's not supposed to be a remake. They toss around that idiotic “reimaging” moniker made popular with the Tim Burton film “Planet of the Apes”. (You'd think that after that film filmmakers would have learned their lesson.) The bottom line on this remake/whatever is that it is simply a cash-in. If it wasn't, they'd have just called it something else. As further proof of this, it's been reported that the film will cave in to MPAA cuts. Excuse me, but the original DOTD faced the same problem and came up with a creative way around the problem. That, too, is part of the legacy of DOTD. Now we're being told that all will be peachy when the uncut version of the film comes out on DVD. Excuse me, but what kind of censorship is this? You can't see the full film in the theater, but you can on DVD? If someone is worried about an underage kid seeing this film uncut it would seem to me that it would be more difficult for a youth to buy a ticket and get a seat in a theater than it would be to watch a DVD at home. You know, it sounds to me like the MPAA is in league with the studio so as to guarantee future sales of the DVD.
Finally, one disturbing trend I've noticed is to see the Romero DOTD referred to as DAWN ’79. I for one can't think of anything more insulting than this. If you have to make that distinction, lump it on the new version. Dawn of the Dead is Dawn of the Dead, or DAWN, or DOTD, whichever you prefer. This new movie is the one that should and must be designated with the release year in the name, not the other way around.
If there is any good coming out of this it is that the release of the new film has spurred Anchor Bay to finally re-release DOTD onto DVD. It has just hit stands in a film-only version and later this year will be out in a multiple disc set reported to include all three versions of the film. So far, I have heard nothing but praise for the transfer of the latest DVD release.
Now, all I wonder is if any of my material used on the Elite LD — the stuff never returned to me by Elite — will make it to the Anchor Bay disc.
RANT ALERT: So, that DOTD remake is in full gear, filming somewhere on our big, wonderful planet Earth. Canada, right? The remake of DOTD is being filmed in... Canada. The cautionary tale of US consumerism is being filmed in... Canada. OK / Whatever. I'm getting ahead of myself...
Via the web, I've checked out set photos and read comments on the project. Hmmm... So, what do I think? (Assuming that anyone cares what I think—and I'll have to go with the conceit that they do so I can get to my point.) Frankly, I must say that I feel remaking DOTD is not such a bright idea.
To backtrack, when the film was first announced I didn't imagine it would become reality. Films get announced constantly, ludicrous ones like this. Often this is just to see what the reaction will be. If the feedback is good, then it helps the producers drum up production money. Well, despite what I believed, flash forward to now and the DOTD remake is a reality. (It's lensing as we speak, for god's sake!) Where at first I was indifferent to the point that I didn't even care to mention it on The Zombie Farm, now I'm annoyed and feel compelled to let those feelings be known! (My coverage of the film will stop and start with this rant, so please don't expect a section of this site to be dedicated to the film either before or after its premiere.)
Actually, I don't object to the idea of a remake, but first things first. Don't you think that DOTD director George Romero should be given the opportunity to see his zombie series brought to closure before people start remaking his films? (And before anyone brings up the Tom Savini helmed NOTLD remake, let me point out that that was made to secure the film's copyright — besides, it was scripted by Romero.) So, come on! Bring on Twilight of the Dead (or Dead Reckoning, or Land of the Dead, or whatever George is calling it these days)! Remaking DOTD before doing this would have made as much sense as NASA landing a man on Mars before landing one on the Moon.
So, I'm seeing all this press on how the remake team is respectful of the original. Sure, why not? I mean, who doesn't respect the 'original' Dawn of the Dead? Even if you don't like the film you have to respect what it said and what it did. Still, on they go about how much love they have for the 'original'. OK / Whatever. Like, this should matter. Like you or I should give a fat rat's ass if they do or they don't respect the original? Saying stuff like this is just lip service to those who truly love DOTD. I mean, if they really want to do service to the genre, then who ever thought to do this in the first place would be bank rolling George Romero's fourth zombie film. Now that's a project that makes sense. Oh, but I mentioned this already. Funny how common sense stuff just keeps floating back to the surface. Basically, I don't care how many tribute store signs are put up in the new mall, or if they toss a few cameos in, this is all just a ploy to alleviate fan wrath.
Many fans opposed to the remake have taken aim at scriptwriter James Gunn. He's constantly picked on as 'the guy who wrote Scooby Doo'. Honestly, I think people who take this angle are missing the point. Everyone has to do something to get on their feet, especially in this business. And while I'll never be high enough to defend a motion picture version of 'Scooby Doo', it was about as good as the material would allow. For all we know, the DOTD remake script may be an interesting piece. And I have heard from people who have read it and say it is good. (But I've also heard from people who say it bites). But this not the point. The point is not 'the script is good' or 'the script is bad'. The point is: Is a remake of DOTD necessary? That's the bottom line. I don't care if they got G. B. Shaw to write the thing, the truth of the matter is — NO! — a DOTD remake is not necessary.
I'm not saying that those involved with the DOTD remake are hacks, but, come one, this sounds like a hack project if ever there was one. And if the crappy trailer for the upcoming Texas Chainsaw remake is any indication of the direction that current filmmakers feel 70s films need to be taken in order to be palatable for 'modern' audiences, then I can tell you that I am totally worried. Did you see that Texas Chainsaw piece of crap trailer? I thought I was watching a GAP commercial with all those handsome hunks and bonny babes in the van. But then that is so like films today. Everyone's a damn model. Or at least a poser.
So, taking a cue from my friend Richard 'Otigoji' Pusateri who christened the Tri-Star Godzilla (that 1998 remake abomination of the Japanese classic) GINO (acronym for 'Godzilla In Name Only'), I believe I will start calling this film DINO, as in 'Dawn In Name Only'. That is, however it turns out, however 'good' or 'bad' it is, it will be DOTD in name only. DINO for short.
Well, there's no stopping this thing now. And as I'm such a chump, I'll no doubt go and see the film. But, man, this is just so not right. Not right at all...
Something I feel compelled to say is that I have become increasingly lame about answering email I get from readers. It's not like I don't welcome mail, and I do answer on occasion. Maybe it's the apathy that sets in when you reach your middle 40s. (There! I admit my age! Have some pity on an old man!) I don't know what it is about the days now, but it's like I get a cup of coffee, kick back to think, and *wham* the day is over. What am I trying to say? That as I try to get more done, I have to be careful with my time. With that said, I still appreciate words of encouragement, people telling me where I've utterly f*ucked up the programming, and shared tidbits of info. Take this as an apology for when I either don't reply or do so months down the road.
The Zombie Farm — the Internet’s longest running Dawn of the Dead website — is undergoing major reconstruction. Check back now and then for more reworked sections. Please keep in mind that I'm sort of experimenting with different ideas and looks, if things appear a little off kilter—give me a break! I'm not a 'webmaster', or anything hubristically smug sounding as that. Just a guy with a fondness for Dawn of the Dead who likes tinkering with a web authoring program far in advance of his feeble I.Q.
Up and running since June 24, 1997
Last update October 13, 2005
The Zombie Farm: Ticking onward for 8 years, 3 months!
The Zombie Farm and all its contents can be blamed on Norman C. England (he's the guy in the photo standing there next to George Romero, the guy trying to look like he's got a reason to be even standing next to The Man in the first place).
If I may, I have to point out that this site is designed for a screen size of 1024 x 768. No doubt there is some kind of programming thing I can do that will make it all look marvelous on screens of other settings. Until I can figure that out, which is highly unlikely, do me a favor and set monitors accordingly. Another thing I ask is that you set the text size to medium. Things get funky when set to other sizes. Oh, and while I'm at it, can I also request that you send me all your spare cash?
Dawn of the Dead is owned and © by someone other than me. I only bother to mention this because I wanted to use the feature on my web page maker that lets me make the copyright symbol. This page is intended as a good way to blow an hour or two.