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Feedback: Let the ‘Dead’ rest in peace

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Taylor Kingsbury, Staff Writer

Taylor Kingsbury, Staff Writer

Starting today, you can watch the desperate struggle of seven survivors as they battle hordes of undead creatures in a shopping mall amidst a city that lies in a ruin of apocalyptic proportions.

Of course, you could have watched this in 1978, or any date after that.

The scenario I am describing unfolds in George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead,” the most epic and fully realized zombie film ever unleashed upon mankind. And it also unfolds in Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead,” a money-chasing “re-imagining” of the original cult classic.

I sat idly by as Gus Van Sant reshot Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” I said nothing when Jessica Biel shook her boobs in Leatherface’s leather face in last year’s rehash of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

But, this time, I will not quietly resign myself to inactivity as the legacy of one of my favorite films is defiled by the Hollywood machine.

George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” is not only one of the best horror films ever made, it is a shining example of a film that refused to submit to Hollywood’s whims and assaulted audiences with its uncompromising vision.

When Romero completed his zombie epic in 1978, he refused to submit it to the MPAA, and anyone who has seen “Dawn” knows exactly why.

The film was released unrated, something unheard of today, and as a result, “Dawn” received meager distribution, and many theaters refused to screen it.

But “Dawn of the Dead” found its audience, and 26 years later, it remains one of the most beloved and revered independent films of all time.

And now that producers with dollar signs in their eyes have remade it, I am really pissed off.

We have already determined that the Hollywood film system does not have any new ideas, which is why 90 percent of the films released every year are dreadful, unwatchable crap.

We lap up this artless garbage, however, so they keep feeding it to us, either in the form of a sequel to a successful film, a rip-off of a successful film, or, in increasing instances, a remake of one.

Financial motivation is the only reason for this trend, and in fact, the only reason Hollywood films are produced.

Sure, Hollywood producers have kids to feed and coke to buy, so they have to make a living, but it is time for them, and ultimately us, to recognize the futility and absurdity of this cookie-cutter creation.

Sure, Van Sant’s “Psycho” was interesting to watch, and the remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” had its moments, but neither of these remakes added anything to the originals, and both were essentially pointless Hollywood offerings.

Like “Psycho” and “Texas,” the original “Dawn of the Dead” cannot be improved; not today, not ever.

I don’t want to see Marcellus Wallace battle zombies, because Ken Foree already kicked undead ass all over the Monroeville Mall 26 years ago.

I don’t care what kind of computer effects we can generate with today’s technology, because the superlative FX set pieces Tom Savini lovingly crafted for the original still remain among the most gruesome and realistic ever put to film.

The Hollywood studio system simply won’t realize that just because they can do something, and it will make money, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I’m looking at you, George Lucas.

The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s” was recorded on a meager four tracks, so why not go back and “re-imagine” it with modern studio technology?

Wouldn’t that sound so much better? Actually, I hope Paul McCartney’s not reading this; he’ll really do it.

Why not go back and modernize a campy ‘70s cop show like, say, “Starsky and Hutch.” Oh, wait….

Sure, perhaps this remake will prompt newcomers to revisit the original, but those who actually do will no doubt be in the minority.

Today’s under-stimulated teens will not have any desire to track down a cartoonish splat-stick comedy with a badly-aged progressive rock soundtrack when they can watch a slickly produced, modernized version with an identical plot.

While the original will never go away, history has a way of erasing itself in this regard.

Type “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” on Yahoo and see which version comes up first.

Until “Dawn” came out, we never had the opportunity to laugh hysterically while a gang of zombies enthusiastically devoured a mangled mass of human intestines.

It makes me sad that a new generation of movie fans will never know that joy.

I cannot say that the revised “Dawn” is a bad film, because I have not seen it.

But, the greedy cash-in that prompted its production goes against everything for which Romero’s zombie epic stood.

Ironically, producers of the remake have overlooked the biting social commentary on our consumer culture that gave the original “Dawn of the Dead” its soul.

Though the dead have not returned to life to feast on the living, at least not yet, in this case, life has truly imitated art.

Taylor Kingsbury, a senior journalism major, is a columnist for the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at

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