Dawn of the Dead
I know I've seen the original, but hell if I can remember much about it.
Before I watched Dawn of the Dead, I assumed it was yet another one of the uninspired horror remakes that we've been subjected to in the last several years. I was dead wrong, this was not just another Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Dawn of the Dead definitely brought something to the table with this reworking of the zombie mythos, specifically the running. These zombies can fucking BOOK IT. Walking zombies are pretty scary, but running zombies? Fucking scariest thing EVER!
Another component of Dawn of the Dead's success was the decision to hire excellent actors and actresses instead of eye candy. Jessica Biel may look good in a bloody wifebeater, but is she believable as a victim of cannibalistic rednecks? Not really. Sarah Polley, on the other hand, is amazing in her role as a zombie-evading nurse. Likewise for Mekhi Phifer, Jake Weber and Ving Rhames. Great writing was also a part of the mix, but then again, I may be biased since it was written by James Gunn, of Tromeo and Juliet fame.
The one element missing was the original film's indictment of consumerism. It was still there in parts, but it was definitely more subtle than in the original film. Phooey on Starbucks for not allowing product placement.
I was previously under the impression that Land of the Dead was a sequel to Dawn of the Dead, but that really doesn't seem to be the case. Even so, I'll be checking it out fairly soon.