[Remake vs. Remake] ‘Fright Night (2011)’ or ‘Dawn of the Dead (2004)’?

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About three weeks ago I did our first Remake vs. Remake segment in which I pitted Fright Night (2011) against Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake. In that piece I discovered that, while I’m pretty far from loving either of those movies, I didn’t hate the Fright Night update as much I remembered upon its release.

But if I’m going to keep doing these Remake vs. Remake brackets I can’t continuously mire in failures and mixed success. I’m going to have to be unfair in order to keep myself motivated. I need to remind myself that these kinds of enterprises can work on occasion. I need something that knocks it out of the park.

And Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead knocks the Fright Night remake out of the f*cking park. It might not have the same kind of social commentary as George Romero’s original 1978 classic and it will never match that film’s legacy, but the script by James Gunn is heads and tails better than what we’re normally served up when a studio decides to capitalize on its IP. It’s a complete story with real characters and a propulsive narrative that doesn’t shove them to the side.

Snyder does fantastic work here as well. While 300 has proved to be visionary in hindsight (it took me a few years to accept this) and The Watchmen for my money actually works, Dawn is most certainly the film of his that I revisit the most. It’s a complete experience (and the opening 10 minutes alone could get any director meetings for years). The cast is great as well. Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Ty Burrel and Michael Kelly (et al) might not pack the marquee names of Gillespie’s film, but they’re one of the more successful ensembles in modern horror history.

It may seem unfair to pit a rare example of the remake nailing it against the standard example of one flailing for thematic and narrative purchase, but sometimes life is cruel. Dawn of the Dead (2004) kills Fright Night (2011) and leaves it bleeding on the floor.

Any of you disagree?

  • J Jett

    the DAWN remake is one of my all time favorite movies ever. ever. there’s not a single thing about i don’t like. in fact i saw it 4 times in theaters and countless times since on DVD.

    the FRIGHT NIGHT remake, while not horrible, pales in comparison to the original film. i saw the remake once and have no need/desire to ever see it again. it’s a shame too considering i love every actor/actress in the movie. how a cast that talented can end up being in a forgettable throwaway film….it’s perplexing.

    • j.c

      Dawn…its not even close

  • Trioxin83

    I agree that Dawn is the better movie. As far as remakes go it’s probably one of the best remakes out there and one I was hoping would get a sequel.

  • Scott Toomey

    ‘Fright Night’ was fun, but the ‘Dawn’ remake was just BOSS.

  • Nick M.

    I enjoy both movies but yeah Dawn is way better.

  • ThunderDragoon

    There’s no doubt that Dawn of the Dead is better than Fright Night. I wouldn’t even remember the Fright Night remake if it wasn’t brought up so frequently here lol.

    • lion7718

      Agree

  • Anthony Gulino

    No contest.. Zach Snyder’s remake of “Dawn Of The Dead” is probably one of the best remakes EVER in any genre if not the best… Fright Night was good.. but certainly not in the same ballpark as Snyder’s vision of “Dawn Of The Dead”

  • http://drsputnik.com/ Tetris911

    This has to be a joke, Dawn remake was miles better!

  • Tosufai

    Snyder’s Dawn of The Dead has an absolutely jaw-dropping opening sequence with some outstanding camera work. The rest of the film devolves into tropes and cliche by the bucket-full but for that opening alone it slaughters the humdrum Fright Night.

    • RedPyramidHead

      The beginning is the only thing I liked about DOTD remake. Never saw the Fright Night remake though.

      • Tosufai

        The Fright Night remake isn’t bad, the main problem with it is that it lacks the fun and energy of the original. And some of the CG is woeful.

  • CTHL

    Fright Night!… jk… Dawn of course, wasn’t even a contest. Great movie vs mildly ok movie, a bad versus battle indeed.

    Dawn is hard to top… the only thing I would consider pitting it against is Carpenter’s The Thing (which would win). At least, in terms of the popular vote… I admit I have a biased love affair with The Grudge that’d I’d put over everything (and get ridiculed over).

  • Jim

    Dawn of the Dead for sure. Hell, it’s one of the best zombie movies period in my opinion. Imogen Poots in FN, does give that movie some favor…smokin. Will every vs. be against Fright Night?

  • lovezoid

    DOTD took one of the most revered and straight-faced horror films of all time and had total fun with it, producing one of the best zombie films of all time in its own right. Fright Night took one of the most entertaining and inventive horror movies of the eighties and sucked almost every litre of fun out of it.

    Although I think they are kinda both reflective of their times – DOTD came around when there wasn’t much life in the zombie genre, hell, it opened the way for Land of the Dead to (kind of) reinvigorate Romero, and it was a really inventive, fresh take on the genre – look where we are now with zombie TV/movie saturation.

    Fright Night got hold of a known genre brand and anesthetised the shit out of it, making it drab, safe and stylised, and completely forgettable. I seriously can’t remember one scene from the film, at least FN2 remake had Jaime Murray. But Dawn of the Dead, I could watch it every morning.

    It’s a shame Zack Snyder got all of the Hollywood money so fast, would’ve been good to see some more lower budget efforts in that vein. He didn’t need slow-mo then.

  • Phil Blank

    Dawn Of The Dead!
    Only thing I remember of Fright Night is the name.
    When I was working, I’m retired now, but back then I bought all of the Zombie movies or tapped them off cable.

    I was really pissed when they didn’t shoot Rosie!

  • markemark

    DOTD by far. Still one of my favorite horror flicks. I introduced it to my girlfriend and it literally opened the world of horror to her. If it’s on cable I’ll always leave it on, not sure why because I own it on Blu and DVD haha.

  • Aaron B. Koontz

    Just got to re-watch Dawn recently as it’s on Stars or Encore or something now and I am constantly impressed by this while simultaneously floored that this is Zach Snyder.

    So DotD for me all the way. But Fright Night was fun as well.

  • DBZEROGRAVITY

    dawn of the dead, without question. looks like 100% of the comments agree this far

  • http://doomas10 doomas10

    Dawn of the dead was glorious! Great action!? solid acting and no barriers regarding gore. It was not as scary as I thought it was while revisiting it, however it has care, great make up and these 10 introduction minutes are tense as hell!

  • dman99999

    i remember the day i saw dawn of the dead i jumped a bus from school during lunch smoked a j behind the theater and caught the 1 o clock show it was EPIC!

    • diapers

      Bravo! All horror flicks should be preceded with a J.

      • Leebo

        Well, stuff like Ring,Ju-On,Kairo and Uzumaki most definitely are!

    • Krug09

      Sounds epic dude.

  • Matthew

    THE Best Remake of All time

    • Leebo

      Yup.

    • Tosufai

      Agreed.

    • KSE1977

      I am not sure that I or likely anybody can disagree/top that, but yes a wicked movie in it’s own right.

  • http://www.noticiaseriefilas.com/ Andoni

    Dawn of the Dead hands down.

  • Chuck Main

    I enjoyed both but yes dawn of the dead for sure..

  • undertaker78

    Dawn of the Dead (2004) is my favorite movie. EVER. So it gets my vote. :) I really enjoyed the Fright Night remake mind you. I know most hated it but I thought it was scary, funny and sexy.

  • Caesar

    Dawn of the Dead by a bazillion miles.

  • ohitsmerenz

    Dawn of the Dead. No question.

  • Gregory Miller

    Dawn of the Dead. Fright Night was a horrible let down–great cast but where was the fun and the special effects?

  • http://www.southernskin.co.nz Tyra Adlam

    Dawn of the Dead. No question.

  • Vadicta

    You should actually make a bracket. It could be fun.

  • Leebo

    Dawn Of The Dead by a country mile.
    I find it amusing though how much love it gets now – and many now think it’s superior to the original – but can remember how much hate there was when it first came out!

    I think that dozens of “bad” remakes have made people open their minds to the good ones.

    • KSE1977

      I watched the original and it just doesn’t resonate with me at all. I enjoyed the original Night of the Living Dead, but the original Dawn and the Day of the Dead just do not do it for me. The remake of Dawn is just intense and violent and fun.

    • Vember Judgement

      I remember all the Dawn remake hate too. I was one of those on the hate train until they released the first ten minutes on TV. After that, I was hooked.

      • Leebo

        I wonder though if the makers were cashing in on 28 Days Later’s success?

        I like to call the Dawn remake 28 Dawns Later!

        I can’t believe it’s already 10 years old – damn I feel old.

  • Saren Nevac

    Dawn was a good remake i still watch now. Fright Night remake was a piece of shit that i rented once and never watched again.

  • Philip De Cristofano

    Dawn Of The Dead

  • Christopher J. Jesty

    Dawn of the Dead!

  • part6productions

    This is pretty hard. While Fright Night is a great time, I’m gonna have to pick Dawn of the Dead, it’s pretty much one of the best horror remakes of all time.

  • Krug09

    You’re right about that DOTD all the way.

  • Krug09

    Fright Night was mildly watchable trash at best. DOTD while not in my collection i could rewatch. Fright Night i wish i could unwatch.

  • KSE1977

    I just saw the Fright Night remake for the first time last week and although I certainly enjoyed it a lot, Dawn of the Dead the remake is what renewed my love of horror films and resulted in me learning so much about the genre and the films that were never mainstream that were worth watching.
    I would put the first 10 minutes of Dawn of the Dead and the first 20 of Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 up there as the best intros to movies of all time. The fact that the Dawn of the Dead manages to produce a solid movie is just a bonus. Plus Dick Cheese’s Down with the Sickness for the win!!!

  • Vember Judgement

    I remember how pissed I was watching that Fright Night remake. Lol, my mother was even more angry with what they did to it. Dawn of the Dead remake however turned out to be one of the greater ones ever made. I remember being angry over it being made to begin with, but at least it was done well.

  • amp69

    I liked both!

  • DANTEarg

    Sarah Polley is an excelent actress, watching her taking control of a zombie outbreak was one of the best thing that I´ve seeing in recent horror movies. Dawn Of the Dead rules, and Sarah Polley was the key to that. Excelent movie, excelent cast.

  • Mr_Mechant

    DotD for sure ! Fright Night was boring and doesn’t deserve to be fighting against DotD !

  • Noah

    I didn’t mind the Remake of Fright Night.Dawn Of The Dead all the way!!!!.

  • http://interrogatingideologywithachainsaw.blogspot.com/ izombiheartzoey

    I think the fact that Fright Night had the main character playing the role of a recovering horror fan in order to get the girl, who turned out to be already accepting of his dorkness was a insult.

  • Mary Bovary

    Fright Night remake was the worst. The original will always be the better one. Dawn of the Dead remake was awesome!

  • Blais Elias

    Dawn of the Dead .. No Contest.

  • LOX TO THE DEATH

    Dawn of the Dead remake is amazing prefer it over the original to be honest

  • Ben Statham

    The DotD remake is far superior to George Romero’s now failed dead saga. The last couple of installments were laughable… Evolving Zombies? Riiiiight.

    Still running Zombies aren’t really Zombies at all.
    The best Zombie film I ever saw was 2010′s ‘The Dead’ which also has a bigger budget sequel this year.

  • http://www.fuckyouyounosybastard.com HapHazzard

    The Fright Night remake was an abomination. Normally a bad remake doesn’t bother me, we’ve always got the original so who cares. But the original Fright Night was an absolute standout horror movie of the 80′s, it was made with huge love for the vampire genre of the past and had so many layers to it, you can still pick up new elements even now nearly 30 years later. It had heart and soul, a perfect cast for the respective parts and the DEFINITIVE vampire presentation and performance. Sarandon, McDowell and Stephen Geoffreys gave career best performances. The effects for the time were superb, the score was outstanding and the whole movie was just a joy, as far as horror films can be. Even the marketing was superb – can anyone honestly say there’s EVER been a better movie poster than the one for Fright Night?
    I love that movie with all my movie-obsessed heart. It’s one of the few “perfect” movies.

    This remake, is all the worse for what it isn’t. Initially the idea was to make a meta-Fright Night – Chris Sarandon playing himself approached by a kid with a real vampire living next door, thinking only Sarandon could help. Dandridge taking on the Vincent role in “real life”. It was gonna be a harder take on the story, a balls out meta-horror that had a real chance of being something great that honoured the original while standing on its own. But the studio got cold feet and proclaimed it “too smart a concept for the average horror fan and movie goer” so they binned it before production started and commissioned a bargain basement straight remake, hired one of the most useless screenwriters in Hollywood and basically sank the ship before it left harbour. No love, no thought, no care. Even it’s star, Farrell, admitted on camera in Ireland that he was a big fan of the original and the remake he’d just made was shite. Ffs. An absolute waste of an opportunity to make something great, and even without all that baggage, the film was a badly made piece of shit.
    Fuck the remake of Fright Night. It was a disgrace. An utter disgrace.
    The Dawn of the Dead remake however was terrific. No competition. But fuck that Fright Night remake. If it was in its own grave, I’d spit on it.

  • Bobby Price

    I loved the Dawn of the Dead remake. The music used in the movie really boosts it, from the opening with Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around to just a random middle of the movie montage done to a lounge singer version of Disturbed’s The Sickness.

  • Mike Majewski

    I didn’t bother with the Fright Night remake but the Dawn of the Dead remake was amazing and blew away the crappy original.

  • http://www.realqueenofhorror.com/ Real Queen of Horror

    I absolutely hated the Fright Night remake, Collin Farrell as Jerry was just a joke. So Dawn of the Dead.