2004’s Dawn of the Deadsaw Zack Snyder and James Gunn working together to remake George A Romero’s horror film. The film was Snyder’s directional debut and was highly successful upon release, overtaking The Passion of the Christ at the box office.
It tells the story of a group of people and a dog trapped in a mall during the zombie apocalypse who do everything they can to survive. Gunn wanted to use the film to explore the human condition and tell a story about redemption, or lack thereof, during a tragic event, “[The survivors] start at nothing and they have to become who they really are in the face of all that and some of the people are redeemed and end up becoming good people and some of them are not redeemed and they end up, you know, not redeemed.”
Despite Romero’s dissatisfaction with it, the film was highly successful and is often named Zack Snyder’s best film. It was revealed a while back that the original script had featured more than one dog and a potentially gruesome fate for the pack.
James Gunn’s Original Script
In interviews and the Dawn of the Dead DVD commentary, Snyder revealed the original script had featured more than just Chips. Initially, there was a group of dogs that the survivors had trained to run food and ammunition between Andy’s weapon shop and the mall survivors, much like Chips does in the film.
Unfortunately, on a return trip, the beloved canines are intercepted by a pack of zombie dogs, and the two groups battle. The fate of the uninfected dogs was unclear, but the scene probably wouldn’t have played out too well for them.
“Everyone knows that if you want to destroy your audience emotionally, all you have to do is [hurt] the dog.”
After reading through the 20-page sequence, Snyder decided that the detour was odd and unnecessary, especially given the lack of involvement from any human characters, and ultimately cut the scene and the whole “zombie dog” idea from the script.
Furthermore, the crew wouldn’t have been able to risk the health of animal actors for the sake of a film by staging a dog combat scene, so it would have required CGI dogs. There was also the challenge of getting the CGI dogs to act and look like the hyper-fast zombie introduced in 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, which would have been an impossible task given that the remake was not a high-budget movie.