More than a decade ago on this date, March 19, Zack Snyder hit it out of the park with his first Hollywood hit: Dawn of the Dead.
Off a meager $26 million budget, this first time director- known only within the commercial circuit- lead a cast of relatively fresh faces to $102 million worldwide, and cemented his fame as a force to be reckoned with.
But money isn’t what matters, is it? The fresh-faced director just past 30 kicked off his career by remaking one of the most acclaimed and ‘holy’ genre-films ever made, by the “Master of Zombies” himself, George A. Romero.
From an interview with About Entertainment, Snyder was asked a simple question: Why?
I think Dawn of the Dead as a project is inherently cool. Zombies are inherently cool. Theres nothing you can do to get away from that. People have gravitated toward zombies for a variety of reasons and for me, it is mostly [because] you can kill them with impunity. Theres no moral imperative. Like youre watching it and go, Hey, you killed too many zombies in that movie! You know, thats crazy! No one is going to be morally outraged. So theres that, which I think is great. But also beyond that, they present like an anonymous enemy that doesnt rely on politics or skin color to make you think, Oh, thats the bad guy. They are clearly that and they are everyone. I think thats one of the reasons [to do this film]. It allowed me to make a movie that in a lot of ways verges on cult status, and thats what I wanted to do.
Simple enough, Zack. Tackling the insane is what’s made him an icon. No other director would bend WB’s arm and say “This is the Watchmen I’m making”, or create his own completely original film in Sucker Punch or even give the world it’s first truly epic superhero film. Just looking at Zack’s list of projects he’s thrown his name at shows that Snyder isn’t one for backing down from a challenge…and never will be.
Since Dawn of the Dead chomped through theaters, it’s worth noting that well more than 100 zombie based films have sprung up both in mainstream multiplexes and direct to video services. Not necessarily saying that Snyder was the cause of all of those; but the sharp spike of interest in the undead and horror-remake craze certainly seem connected to our favorite director.
While Snyder went the way of DC, and the Dawn screenwriter headed off to the Marvel Universe with Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s important to never lose sight of Snyder’s directorial debut, or all of the many parts working under the hood. Without Zombies, we’d have no Zack- and without Zack, you might not have any zombies.