Halloween Horrors 2011 : “Day Of The Dead” 2008

Posted: October 27, 2011 in movies
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And hey, since we’re on the subject of shitty direct-to-video zombie flicks —

Honestly, folks, they don’t come much worse than the 2008 “remake” (and I use that term very loosely) of George A. Romero’s classic, Day Of The Dead.

I remember in the time between when this project was announced (sometime in 2006, if memory serves me correctly) and it landed like a thud on video store shelves, Netflix, etc., most hard-core horror fanatics were — skeptical, to put it kindly. Sure, the budget was okay (estimated to be around $18 million, and filmed in Bulgaria to make those dollars stretch even further), and Steve Miner was attached as director, a guy who had earned a certain reservoir of goodwill for Halloween : H2O. The cast list didn’t look to bad, either — Mena Suvari was set to star, Ving Rhames would be in there for a (brief, as it turns out) cameo as a military commander, Ian McNeice was going to play a burned-out ex-hippie DJ, Nick Cannon (before his career seriously took off thanks to who he married) was in there someplace, a pre- 90210AnnaLynne McCord was on board — surely it couldn’t be as bad as we all feared, could it?

As things turned out, the finished product was actually much, much worse.

First off, let’s get one thing straight right away — 2008’s Day Of The Dead isn’t a remake of the Romero original at all. It’s not even “based on” that film as the credits proclaim. The only vague similarity between the two is that the first one had a semi-intelligent zombie who was capable of learning named Bub (in a legendary performance by the great Howard Sherman), and this one’s got a vegetarian zombie (yes, you read that correctly) named Bob.

That’s it. Seriously. Oh, and this one’s got a secret underground military base, as well. But they don’t get to it until about the final 30 minutes of the film.

So no allusions to Cold War paranoia. No attempts to educate the zombies for domestic use/possible co-existence. No mad doctor. No questions along the lines of “what price will our possible survival come at?”

No, friend,s all of that would require brains and heart, and this film has neither. Hell, Miner and company can’t even decide if they want their zombies to be slow shamblers or the new, speedy, 28 Days Later model, so they give us both (as well as a mix of live-action and CGI creatures, with extremely mixed results). instead all we’ve got here is the story of a by-now-typical zombie outbreak that first looks like a virus but turns out to be much worse plaguing the scenic mountain town of Leadville, Colorado (and to this flick’s credit Bulragia does, indeed, look a bit Colorado-ish) that our heroine, army private ( I think, although maybe she was a corporal, I can’t remember and don’t care) Sarah Bowman (Suvari) just happens to call home.

And I think I’m just gonna leave it at that because, honestly, there’s just no reason to see this movie. A pretty decent cast turns in listless, one-dimensional performances all around, which is what I would probably do in their shoes as well if I’d read this mind-numblingly lifeless script. There’s no tension, suspense, or even anything really interesting going on. The best thing I can say about the whole thing is that it’s over in a truly mercifully short 86 minutes.

Day Of The Dead , 2008 incarnation, is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from First Look Pictures. It’s got a sharp widescreen transfer, 5.1 sound, a commentary with Miner and several of the cast and crew, a making-of featurette — all the bells and whistles. But it still sucks. Royally. But hey, if it just had another title — any other title — what we’d be looking at here is yet another lousy DTV living dead flick. Stand in line and take a number.  By trying to hitch itself onto Romero’s wagon, however, it shows itself to be not just bad, but shameless and disrespectful, as well. Avoid at all costs, I beg you — please!

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