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Film: Dawn of the Dead
Director: Zack Snyder
Performers: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Lindy Booth, Blu the Dog
Production information: Strike Entertainment, 2004 (US)
Breed featured: Collie/Shepherd/Heeler?

I do enjoy a good zombie flick, though it took me a while to reconcile my usual dread of gore with the features of this horror subgenre. Zombie movies are within my limits, because there’s a long tradition of B-grade campiness that puts the emphasis on props (easily identified as fake), makeup, and the process of survival, not on visual realism.

While this remake of Dawn of the Dead does strive in some ways to be more “realistic” than the George Romero original, the gore itself is not, and knowing this is what makes it true to its generic roots. The aesthetics are still about audio-visual excess, stylized violence and dynamic camera work.

zombie hands grab at Chip the dog

In one crucial scene, “Chips” the dog is lowered into a sea of zombies to deliver supplies to another human survivor. He is safe because the zombies have no interest in consuming the living flesh of other species, just cannibalizing their own.

According to the commentary track by director Zack Snyder and producer Eric Newman, they had originally intended to have many more dogs in the film, including a whole sequence showing how the survivors trained the dogs. Logistically, it was too much for them to handle, so we have to be satisfied with one smart-looking dog who seems to naturally understand what is expected of him.

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, do you think you could count on your dog to help you survive?

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