Search This Blog

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 222: Day Of The Dead

Day Of The Dead
Nothing makes sense in this picture. Nothing.

In “Shaun of the Dead,” Ed asks Shaun, “Who died and made you fucking king of the zombies?” Despite still being alive, the answer to that question would have to be George Romero. Romero is the father of the modern zombie genre with his original trilogy of Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, and Day Of The Dead being the litmus test for all other zombie movies. While many zombie movies try to achieve the same greatness of Romero's movies, most of the time they end up just ripping them off. There are countless “... Of The Dead” movies out there just hoping that an unsuspecting horror fan will pick it up in hopes of a good zombie movie. I know that's true because I've done it before. In 2004, Zack Snyder directed a remake of Dawn Of The Dead to wide success and acclaim. It took the essence of the original along with some important scenes and made it a modern horror movie. It was only a matter of time before we got a remake of Day Of The Dead.

Day Of The Dead is a 2008 direct-to-video remake of the 1985 George Romero movie of the same name. The movie stars Mena Suvari (American Pie, American Beauty) as Corporal Sarah Cross. An outbreak has occurred in a small town in Colorado, leading the army to quarantine the area. The town also happens to be the home of Corporal Cross, who travels with Private Bud Crain (Stark Sands, Six Feet Under, Generation Kill) to her mother's house to check up on her. There, she walks in on her brother Trevor (Michael Welch, Joan of Arcadia, Twilight) making out with his girlfriend Nina (AnnaLynne McCord, 90210, New Moon). Sarah checks on Trevor's friend, Kyle, and discovers that his parents have been brutally mauled. She takes her sick mother to the hospital along with Trevor and Nina. The hospital is overrun by sick people who all stop moving at the same time. The infected suddenly reanimate, turning into super-fast, super-agile flesh-hungry zombies. Trevor and Nina are able to escape while Sarah and Bud hide in a storage room along with Dr. Logan (Matt Rippy, Torchwood, Boogeyman 3) and Private Salazar (Nick Cannon, Drumline, RollBounce). They are attacked by a zombified Captain Rhodes (Ving Rhames, Dawn Of The Dead, Pulp Fiction) who bites Bud on the hand before they are able to kill him. Trevor and Nina find safety in a radio station while Bud, Sarah, and Salazar fight their way out of the hospital. Dr. Logan makes a run for it on his own. Bud eventually turns into a zombie, but through his strong feelings for Sarah, retains some of his human traits and is helpful in fighting off the zombies. They pick up Trevor and Nina and head to a supposedly abandoned bunker. Inside, they find a laboratory with Dr. Logan inside. How is he connected to the outbreak, what is “Project: Wildfire” and how will they survive?

I don't think the camouflage is working

Calling this a remake is a real stretch of the imagination. The Dawn Of The Dead remake, while not exactly the same as the original, kept the same themes and general idea intact. I mean, a majority of the movie takes place with the humans holed-up in a mall, just like the original. This remake has a completely different story and only a tenuous connection to the source material. Just because you use the same names as the original, have the main characters be soldiers, and having a zombie remember things doesn't mean you have a remake. The movie also lacks the serious political and social commentary that made up so much of the original. All of this could be forgiven if the movie itself was good. There is plenty of action to go around, so if you like exploding heads, you'll be entertained. While it does have some entertaining moments, the story is too much of a mess to be overcome.

Things happen too conveniently in Day Of The Dead. The main characters survive too easily while everyone else dies around them. The last 15 minutes or so when they randomly find this bunker that had never been previously mentioned is when things get out of hand. They try to cram in an explanation that should have been addressed earlier and then throw in some horrifically unrealistic action. I've come to accept fast zombies, but I can't allow zombies that can crawl on ceilings and make Super Mario-like jumps. These things are so fast that it's hard to believe anyone would survive. The fun of having slow zombies is the crushing realization that a character is surrounded and no matter what they do, they are dead. Some zombies look good while others look like a pizza from Domino's. There is a good amount of blood and gore, enough to please most horror fans. To put it lightly, the acting is just not very good. Mena Suvari does her best, but I just can't believe that she is a Corporal in the army. Ving Rhames is only in the movie for a few brief scenes, which is a shame, because we know he can be very good. Between this and Zombie Apocalypse, I don't know what Mr. Rhames was thinking. The real problem comes from Nick Cannon who spits out contrived, cliched lines with all the conviction of a rapper-turned-actor. The special effects look particularly fake and they would have been better off using traditional effects and makeup.

I didn't know zombies could smile

If you enjoyed the original Day Of The Dead, you will be greatly disappointed with this remake. It does have more action, blood, and gore than the original, but lacks the story and commentary that made the original so enjoyable. There are a few connections to the original, but, for better or worse, this Day Of The Dead is really it's own story. The acting is questionable and the special effects are worse. The super-fast zombies add more fear to the movie, but look silly as they sprint and flail about. If you like lots of violence in your zombie movies, you'll really enjoy this one. If you need a little more substance to your horror, you should look elsewhere.


No comments:

Post a Comment