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10 Behind The Scenes Facts About Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

No one was expecting the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake to be as good as it was. George A. Romero's original is obviously a classic, filled with some stylish violence (which was very convincing for the time), social satire, and great characters. It essentially popularized the zombie genre as audiences know it.

RELATED: 10 Things That Still Hold Up Today About Dawn Of The Dead (1978)

Few people were expecting a remake to be any good, and while it was very different in tone and style, Zack Snyder's version was surprisingly efficient. Making it was also very fun, expensive, and time-consuming, as evident by these behind the scenes facts.

The owner of the remake rights was a man named Richard P. Rubinstein, who co-produced the original Dawn of the Dead. Rubinstein had actually been approached throughout the years in regards to a potential remake, but he always remained hesitant.

In his own words, "I was concerned that somewhere along the way a studio would sanitize [producer Eric] Newman’s vision for producing a version with attitude." Upon assurances that the remake would remain gritty and violent, he sold the rights and granted the existence of a remake.

James Gunn has directed some great movies and TV shows, but he faced some severe backlash over penning the script for Dawn of the Dead. On Twitter, Gunn wrote, "I got actual hand-written death threats" for writing a remake. According to him, "To most I was just 'the Scooby-Doo guy.'"

This is a reference to Gunn penning the script to the 2002 live action adaptation of Scooby-Doo starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard. Perhaps understandably, die-hard fans of Dawn of the Dead didn't want the writer of Scooby-Doo touching their beloved property.

A majority of the indoor scenes were filmed in Toronto's Thornhill Square. The mall was actually scheduled to be demolished before the producers of the film jumped in and secured the property for filming. They were given full access to the abandoned mall and extensively renovated for the film (more on that later).

RELATED: 8 Ways Dawn Of The Dead Is George A. Romero's Best Zombie Movie

Unfortunately, the mall itself has since been torn down. According to a recent YouTube video, only a small fraction of the building still remains, having been replaced with other retail outlets and townhouses.

Typically, when movies are set in malls, it can be difficult to film owing in large part to licensing agreements. Unfortunately, this bit the producers of Dawn of the Dead. Only a handful of retail outlets allowed their logos to be seen in the movie, as many didn't want to be associated with its violent content.

Instead, the production designers were forced to create an entire mall from scratch. Not only were fake storefronts made up, but the stores themselves were populated and filled with real items to give them an authentic lived-in appearance.

To create authentic running corpses, the producers of Dawn of the Dead turned to Oscar-winning makeup artist David LeRoy Anderson. To make his creatures as believable as possible, Anderson and his team actually scoured through crime scene photographs and forensic textbooks.

As he states, "We wanted to create zombies based on absolute reality-the color schemes are real, the look of decomposition is real-it was all about keeping it real." The result is a surprisingly realistic zombie movie.

What some people might not notice is that the blood of the zombies actually changes in both color and texture throughout the movie. This was also done by Anderson and his team to accurately depict the decomposition of his zombies.

The first stage is composed of normal red blood, the second is both browner and drier, and the third stage consists of a tar black color and oily consistency. They also applied the blood in different manners - free-flowing for fresh wounds, clotted and dried for old.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dawn of the Dead had an extensive makeup process. On some days, there would reportedly be over 300 extras made up in full zombie makeup. This was applied through a "round the clock mill effect" that included a specific makeup room, a tent, and a trailer.

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These were populated by dozens of makeup artists who would spend anywhere between one and four hours designing and creating a single zombie. No one said making zombies was easy.

Playing lead character Ana was Sarah Polley, a Canadian A-lister known primarily for dramas. Unsurprisingly, her enthusiasm for the role stunned even her agent. As Polley states, "This was the last thing she would expect me to be interested in. But I loved the idea of it."

To this day, Dawn of the Dead remains one of her most mainstream and well-known movies. For many, seeing an acclaimed dramatic actress in a loud zombie movie was unbelievable.

Dawn of the Dead features a lot of zombies. Many of these were digitally created, like the mass of zombies outside the mall. But most were flesh and blood, and this required many enthusiastic extras. According to some estimates, approximately 3,000 zombies were made for the movie.

Filming occurred for roughly 13 weeks between June 9 and September 6, 2003. Assuming five working days a week, that's approximately 65 days of filming, which means just under 50 zombies were created every single day.

Hardened police officer Kenneth was portrayed by legendary screen actor Ving Rhames, and he was the filmmakers' only choice for the role. Luckily, Rhames was enthusiastic towards Zack Snyder's work and eagerly accepted the role.

As he claims, "I think Zack is turning out to be a dynamite feature director. He is a director that says a lot with the camera." Snyder in turn directed Rhames with confidence, resulting in one of the movie's most memorable characters.

NEXT: 15 Scariest Zombie Movies To Never Watch Alone, Ranked

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