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4K UHD Review: Scream Factory’s Dawn of the Dead (Collector’s Edition) 

Dawn of the Dead

Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead written by James Gunn and starring Sarah Polley gets a 4K UHD upgrade from Scream Factory.  The results … Demo Disc Worthy. 

The Film 

Yes, yes, yes, it was sacrilege for anyone deciding to remake Dawn of the Dead but here’s the thing… they remade Night of the Living Dead (more than once) and they remade Day of the Dead (albeit much later than this Dawn Remake). That being said Zack Snyder’s “reimagining” of Dawn of the Dead is a great action horror film. The script by James Gunn strips all the social commentary that was inherent in the 1978 original.  In its place, it’s added… nothing.  This Dawn running at 110 Minutes (the theatrical runs a brisk 100 minutes) isn’t ponderous the way that Romero’s original is.  That isn’t a bad thing. Dawn of the Dead in its 2004 incarnation is a Punk Rock cover of Romero’s Acid Rock original.  

This is Snyder at his leanest.  He never again made a film so unfettered by his own compunction to please himself with filmic tricks.  The film almost feels like a random outlier in the director’s career and what makes a “Zack Snyder Film” isn’t present.  Especially when you consider he went back to the Zombie Well in 2021 with Army of the Dead a film that feels like the most Zack Snyder Film that ever did Zack Snyder in the history of Zack Snyder.  

What makes a Zack Snyder film a Zack Snyder film: 

  1. The film picture desaturated to the point of choking 
  2. Ramp up Slow-Motion effects.  
  3. People yelling at 12 (beyond the Spinal Tap ‘11’).  
  4. Everything is deathly serious.  

Dawn of the Dead counter those “What makes a Zack Snyder film a Zack Snyder film” rules to a tee.  The film’s color scheme is oversaturated in a beautiful Kodachrome-style image.  There is some slow motion but it’s Peckinpah “in camera” style, not the computer-assisted nonsense Snyder loves to do now.  The film though loud is never about people screaming dialog.  There’s a sarcastic arched comedic tone that runs throughout (thank you James Gunn!) and absolutely NO Leonard Cohen singing Hallelujah

What is left for a film that isn’t really a remake of Dawn of the Dead and not really a full-on Zack Snyder movie?  

Just an early ‘00s straight-ahead action horror film that kicks some serious ass.  I’m talking SERIOUS ass.  This is Snyder working within limitation creates a film that’s more character based but manages to be the best work of his career. The film fills fully formed and built for entertainment.  This isn’t an excuse for giant set pieces and jingoistic war-mugging rah-rah-ness. 

The moments of action and horror are delivered in a way that’s completely visceral.  Snyder and Gunn together know how to push buttons and create some truly disturbing moments.  The zombie pregnancy is by far the best of these.  Snyder’s compunction to take it further and Gunn’s gleeful script pushes this to the point of lunacy and almost outright hilarity.  One is amazed that Snyder got away with this and many other moments in a Studio Picture (something in 2023 that probably would not happen).  

Dawn of the Dead is still a kick-ass piece of zombie cinema and stands as Zack Snyder’s best film. 

The Transfer 

Note: the reviewed transfer is the 4K UHD version, not the Blu-Ray – which is newly sourced from the same Transfer.  

The all-new 4K Scan From The Original Camera Negative With Inserts From The 2K Digital Intermediate For The Unrated Footage is gorgeous.  Having seen the film in multiple iterations (35mm, DVD, Universal Blu-Ray, Scream Factory Blu-Ray released in 2016) this is by far the best other than the 35mm print I saw on opening day.  The transfer is a bit darker because of the Dolby Vision HDR encoding – which is emblematic of HDR encoding anyways.  The image has cleaner overall contrast and black levels giving the UHD a better level of distinguishing shadows and light balances.  That fact aids greatly in a film that’s continually oversaturated and blown-out image.  The biggest plus is a healthy sheen of grain is still present and gives the transfer the look of a freshly struct print.  Bravo to Scream/Shout for their upgrade to the work they had done previously in 2016.  Seven years later they’ve managed to exceed their revelatory work on this film.  

The Extras 

They include the following:  


  • Audio Commentary With Director Zach Snyder And Producer Eric Newman


  • Audio Commentary With Director Zach Snyder And Producer Eric Newman
  • Introduction To The Unrated Cut With Director Zach Snyder
  • Splitting Headaches: Anatomy Of Exploding Heads
  • Attack Of The Living Dead
  • Raising The Dead 
  • Andy’s Lost Tape 
  • Special Report: Zombie Invasion 
  • Undead And Loving It: A Mockumentary 
  • Drawing The Dead Featurette
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Hidden Easter Egg


  • Take A Chance On Me – An Interview With Actor Ty Burrell
  • Gunn For Hire – An Interview With Writer James Gunn
  • Punk, Rock, & Zombie – An Interview With Actor Jake Weber
  • Killing Time At The Mall: The Special Effects Of Dawn Of The Dead – An Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artists David Anderson And Heather Langenkamp Anderson
  • Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Zach Snyder And Producer Eric Newman
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

Note: The Commentary Track Appears on both the UHD and Blu-Ray editions of the Unrated Director’s Cut. The rest of the special features appear on either Disc Two or Disc Three – both of which are Blu-Rays and each housing different extras.  See above for the breakdown. 

The audio commentary with Snyder and producer Eric Newman is a decent commentary that goes over production nuts and bolts.  One word of note Snyder love to call people “Rock Stars”.  Do not attempt to play a drinking game regarding this because you could hurt yourself with the number of times, he says it.  One does wish that Snyder would have done back to record another track as his other tracks post-debut have been far more filmmaking centric.  

Splitting Headaches: Anatomy Of Exploding Heads (5:36) – archived over from the DVD release the featurette quickly and efficiently goes over how they achieved the practical headshot FXs.  Lots of B-Roll footage from the production and interviews with the likes of Snyder and the FX Crew.  

Attack Of The Living Dead (7:24) – another archived featurette pulled over from the DVD release which discusses some of the “hero” zombies, how they were designed, and also how their fates were achieved.  Again, some great B-Roll footage of the FX work peppered in with interviews from Snyder, and FX Supervisor David Leroy Anderson.  

Raising The Dead (7:54) – another archived featurette pulled over from the DVD release which discusses how they achieved the mass groups/hordes of Zombies.  Yet again, some great B-Roll footage of the FX work peppered in with interviews from Snyder, and FX Supervisor David Leroy Anderson.  

Andy’s Lost Tape (16:22) – is the story of the gun store owner across the street from the mall that features prominently in the film.  This piece is its own ‘found footage’ short film shot on DV.  

Special Report: Zombie Invasion (21:05) – Much like Andy’s Lost Tape is a bit of a “found footage” style mini-film.  It gives an even greater context to the film and what happened during the opening moments of the film. 

Undead And Loving It: A Mockumentary (5:09) – is exactly what you would think it is.  A funny/unfunny featurette that makes fun of other featurettes about using “real” zombies instead of fake made-up zombies. 

Drawing The Dead Featurette (2:48) – Snyder discusses his use of storyboards for the film.  Additional comments by Storyboard Artist Mark Yates. 

Storyboard Comparisons (5:51) – a companion piece to the above featurette where the bedroom attack and the Mall rescue are shown side by side as the scene as shot in film plays out.  

Take A Chance On Me (15:28) – in this archival interview with actor Ty Burrell, the actor discusses the experience of making the film and more.  Some of the details include Burrell liking the film very much, the audition process, he was initially up for the Jack Webber role, and much more. 

Gunn For Hire (9:26) – this archival interview with the screenwriter, James Gunn opens the discussion of his love for the original. Some of the details include how he got the assignment, his relationship with producer Eric Newman, how he wrote Dawn of the Dead as opposed to how he writes currently, his lack of having to pitch the project – and the relief that was, an honest look at the reactions when it was revealed that the writer of the live-action Scooby-Doo film would be writing a remake to one of the most lauded horror films of all time, and much more.  

Punk, Rock, & Zombie (23:10) – this twenty-minute interview with Jack opens how the film has impacted his life and career.  Some of the other details include Ty Burrell and Webber being up for opposite roles they were eventually cast in, what he loved about the role, a hilarious story about baby oil, and much more.    

Killing Time At The Mall: The Special Effects Of Dawn Of The Dead (25:36) – by far the best of the featurettes/interview is this one with David Anderson and Heather Langenkamp.  The featurette on the making of all the great special effects goes into detail on each of the set pieces.  This featurette is made even better by the fact THEHeather Langenkamp of Nightmare of Elm St fame was one of the Makeup FX producers.  This is a little fact I had no clue about when I initially watched this featurette in 2016.  Some of the details including how they got involved with the film, the preproduction process, and the production process in great detail – like the larger wheel barrel lady, the girl with no teeth, the zombie baby, and much more.  The interview crosscuts between B-Roll behind-the-scenes footage, interview with the duo, and clips from the movie.  

Deleted Scenes (11:30) – The deleted scenes are all of the missing bits that were added to the director’s cut just in one featurette.  Optional commentary by Snyder and producer Newman give context why the footage was cut.  

Theatrical trailer (2:34) – They’ve included the great iconic, and much-copied, theatrical trailer.  

Still Gallery (8:12) – a collection of 98 stills, production photos, behind-the-scenes stills, and more.  The gallery can be paused and navigated through your remote control. 

The Final Thought 

Scream Factory gives us an exemplary 4K UHD upgrade of Dawn of the Dead with flawless picture and sound.  HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATIONS!!!  

Scream Factory’s 4K UHD edition of Dawn of the Dead is out January 31st

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