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Monday, October 5, 2020

Why ‘The Crazies’ and ‘Dawn of the Dead’ Make for a Perfect Horror Remake Double Feature

According to some, remakes do untold damage to childhoods the world over, leaving nothing but tears, regrets, and crumpled up memories in their wake. Obviously, the idea of redoing a beloved movie is a touchy subject for film fans as the results are sometimes less than stellar. In some cases, they’re not even adequate. But horror remakes fair a little better. Specifically, ones with a creative team with something on their mind or a singular perspective. 

Every week in October, I’m suggesting a double feature of remakes for your Halloween viewing pleasures. The movies are connected and never random, even if the connection is not-so-obvious at first sight. Besides the fact we’re all dying for horror to watch during the spooky season, double features are great introductions to movies for the uninitiated. And for seasoned vets, watching two movies back-to-back can sometimes put them in a different light. 

So, without further ado, let’s get to the picks.

What Are the Movies?

Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead and Breck Eisner’s The Crazies provide two different angles on George Romero’s material. The pace is different, the look is different, the reverence to Romero is different, and they’re both products of their respective decades. Don’t get it confused; these movies have their similarities as well. Chief among them the fact they’re both dope movies in their own right and stand as two of the best remakes of all-time, horror or otherwise. 

Dawn of the Dead is quintessential early 2000s horror. The movie is fast, gory, a tad over the top, and about as subtle as a Puff Daddy music video. James Gunn’s script is less concerned with commenting on the downfall of society through consumerism, and more focused on grabbing its audience by the neck for an hour and 40-minute rollercoaster without a single barf bag within reach. The first fifteen minutes could stand on its own as a short film and is possibly the strongest opening of any horror flick that decade. While Romero’s Dawn of the Dead initially focused on zombie attacks in the city, the remake’s opening shows us what happens when all hell breaks loose in the suburbs. From the opening attack, Snyder tells us his zombies are fast, athletic, and somehow a bit cunning. They sometimes lull their victims into a false sense of security before attacking. The zombies plot, plan, and are, at times, surprisingly patient. Even if the movie they’re in is sometimes the exact opposite. 

Romero’s original showed man as the true monster. Snyder’s remake, on the other hand, makes it abundantly clear the monsters are the true monsters. 

The Crazies hit in 2010, the same year as Insidious, Paranormal Activity 2, and Frozen. Saw was on its way out as horror flicks became more interested in suspense and tension instead of shock and awe. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Breck Eisner’s remake is similar in tone to the 1973 original. The scares are spaced out for maximum effect, dread lords over the entire proceedings, and the relationships have shades of complexity. Unlike the original, which boasts an abundance of central characters, Eisner’s film is a story of four people making their way through a manmade hell. Tightening the scope of the movie allows for deeper characterizations, providing the audience reason to truly give a damn when one of them is at risk of being dearly departed. 

The Crazies get back to Romero’s idea that humans are the awful things that go bump in the night. Rather than zombies, our heroes are dealing with an outbreak and the government cover-up that follows. Sure, the townspeople get infected and go a tad psycho, resulting in a couple choice set-pieces, but who we should really fear is never in question. 

Okay, Why These Two?

Besides the obvious Romero connection? Both films have “end of the world as we know it” vibes, and show the good and not-so-good ways humans react in a crisis while placing a spotlight on an extended family doing their best to survive. Dawn of the Dead and The Crazies have at least one moment each where the audience is asked to empathize with specific choices the characters make.  Which leads them to question what they would do in a similar circumstance.

Romero had his own voice, and these two directors do as well. Dawn of the Dead introduced us to Zack Snyder, and while his style evolved over the years, the foundation he laid in 2004 is still there today. Breck Eisner was very close to giving us another shot of his brand of horror with a sequel to 2009’s Friday the 13th but the movie business has a way of spoiling everyone’s fun.  

These two movies are respectful to the source material without being slavish. Dawn of the Dead is a good chaser to the shot of the original. The Crazies improves on what came before and makes it relevant to the decade of horror it started and our current moment in time. 

Watch The Crazies first to get you in the right mood, and follow it with Dawn of the Dead to cap the night with a little enjoyment. The Crazies is streaming for free on Tubi and is available to rent on most streaming platforms. Dawn of the Dead is streaming on Peacock and is also available to rent on most streaming platforms.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3635110/crazies-dawn-dead-make-perfect-horror-remake-double-feature/

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