History 21

Early 2004
Tom Savini posts several never-before-seen photos on his official website that depict test shots of Fran’s originally planned alternate ending “suicide” filmed with a dummy in 16mm on the Monroeville Mall’s rooftop.

March 19, 2004
Universal Pictures’ $26 million Dawn of the Dead remake, produced by Richard Rubinstein and directed by Zack Snyder, opens in U.S. theaters. In addition to actors Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger and Tom Savini making cameo appearances (as a TV evangelist, an Army general, and a sheriff, respectively), the remake also features numerous references to Romero’s original; including a CGI-rendered appearance of the WGON chopper, a store at the mall called “Gaylen Ross”, and a number of survivors arriving in a “B&P” truck. The film’s enormous worldwide box office success will eventually lead to Universal green-lighting George Romero’s fourth zombie movie, Land of the Dead.

March 29, 2004
London premiere of Shaun of the Dead, a British “romantic zombie comedy” directed by Ed Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film basically is one big homage to George Romero’s original Dead trilogy, featuring numerous references to all three films. Dawn of the Dead nods include several excerpts from the original soundtrack, as well as the main character working in a store called “Foree Electric”. George Romero himself is so enamoured of Shaun that he eventually invites Pegg and Wright out to the Canadian set of Land of the Dead to appear as zombie extras in the film.


May 2004
Dawn of the Dead lead actor Scott Reiniger makes the international headlines when it is revealed that he is the great, great, great grandson of Josiah Harlan, the first American to set foot in Afghanistan. As a result of a treaty Harlan has signed back in the day, his heirs are granted the title Prince of Ghor in perpetuity. However, Reiniger shows no intent of officially claiming that title and suggests passing it on to his younger brother, whose first name also is Harlan.

May 22, 2004
Dawn explosive effects expert Gary Zeller passes away aged 63.