Reviewed by Buz ‘Danger’ Wallick
Starring Ving Rhames, Mena Suvari, Michael Welch, Pat Kilbane, Nick Cannon
Directed by Steve Miner
Distributed by First Look Pictures
George A. Romero has always said that Day of the Dead is his favorite of his zombie films. And I have to agree with him there. I love Day of the Dead. It’s easily my favorite of all zombie films, so of course when they decided to remake it, I was a wee bit hesitant. And now after seeing it, I couldn’t have been more right.
The story centers around Sarah Bowman (Mena Suvari) and her merry escorts of military commandos, all of which have familiar names. We have the hard ass Captain Rhodes (Ving Rhames), who sadly utters none of the insults made famous by Joe Pilato, Private Bud (Stark Sands), who is a vegetarian and is the (de)evolution of Bub, and then there is Salazar made embarrassing by Nick “Drop your Drumsticks” Cannon. Cannon’s Salazar made me weep for the future. Non-military characters include the milk-maid from 2001 Maniacs (Christa Campbell), Sarah’s little brother Trevor (Michael Welch), his girlfriend, and a straight out of “Nip Tuck” Dr. Logan (Matt Rippy).
So when this small Colorado town gets quarantined by the Government, the military steps in to watch the borders of the town and make sure no one gets out. On that note, why is it that all shitty movies these days take place in Colorado towns? I think I’m going to make it a mandate from now on to just avoid any movie that takes place in Colorado. Before you know it, people start getting sick, and the hospital is beginning to fill with far too many infected. Strange things are definitely afoot.
Long story short, the sick people become zombies, and then our characters run for the lives as the dead go on a rampage. These aren’t just normal zombies though. They come equipped with battle damage. As in that they insta-rot. You heard that right. As soon as someone turns into a zombie, they instantaneously rot. And then they run, jump, scamper, frolic, climb, and wall crawl. Yes, the zombies crawl on walls and ceilings. The only way I could accept this notion was to just assume that the zombies aren’t just zombies but a mixed breed of zombie and xenomorphs. I say this because they not only wall crawl but also move through ventilation shafts and suck people up into them, just like xenomorphs. Point? Point! This brought an unexpected dosage of comedy to the whole shebang.
Overall, the film is shot well and looks like it had a decent budget. The problem is that it just mimics every single other film that has come out in the past five years from Resident Evil to 28 Days Later. It’s void of any characterization, and the acting? It is atrocious! Especially from Nick “Drop your Drumsticks” Cannon. He is probably the single most embarrassing black stereotyped character I have ever seen. But with all of that shit rolled up, the movie is still a wee bit entertaining, if only for the laughable situations the characters go through. It really is quite fun watching it with a friend and treating it as a comedy. However, all the cheese-ball entertainment in the world cannot disguise the fact that this is still a shitty movie.
As with most shitty movies, a shitty special feature section is appropriately included. The DVD has a commentary track with director Steve Miner, writer Jeffrey Reddick, editor Nate Easterling, and cast members Michael Welch, Stark Sands, and Christa Campbell, which consists of your usual technical explanations and a few anecdotes from the set. None of which are all that entertaining, except of course when Steve Miner proclaims that Bulgaria looks nothing like the United States. HOLY SHIT!? REALLY!? We got a rocket scientist here, folks. After the commentary track, the DVD treats us with one of the single most boring “behind-the-scenes” featurettes I have ever seen. Clocking in at about fifteen minutes and consisting entirely of footage shot behind the camera that is shooting scenes for the movie. there’s just no joy to be had here. That’s all we get, man. No funny shenanigans in the make-up room, no pre-production information, no post-production talking notes, nothing. Just watching the actors do a take, Steve Miner saying cut, then the actors do another take. The only redeeming value found in the making-of video is seeing how they did that super cool special effect of a zombie crawling on a ceiling. Wow!
After you get done having your brain pumped full of “On the Set” video, head on over and check out the alternate ending. I will forever thank whatever powers may be that they didn’t use this ending. Basically it shows our boy Nick “Drop your Drumsticks” Cannon stumbling out of the missile silo after our heroes proclaiming he wasn’t bitten and somehow survived. Then he mutters some straight up gangsta thuglicious slurs about leaving him behind and our characters drive off into the sunset. Thank you whoever said “Maybe we should leave him dead…”
After that you can see the INTERNATIONAL TRAILER, and then the UNRATED TRAILER, and after that the THEATRICAL TRAILER! All pretty much small variations of the same thing. The only one that was slightly interesting was the international trailer.
Then there’s the photo gallery. Is it just me or do photo galleries on DVDs for bad movies come off as your neighbor showing you a slide show from his family vacation to Hawaii? Yeah, it’s cool and all that you went to Hawaii, dude, but I don’t give a fuck. Nor did I care about all the promotional pictures or stills from the movie. Unnecessary.
But wait! There’s more! Interviews with the cast and crew! When I say cast, I mean Mena Suvari, Nick “Drop your Drumsticks” Cannon, AnnaLynne McCord (Trevor’s girlfriend), and Stark Sands, all painstakingly trying to make it seem like they are having a good time on the set. I found the easiest way to get through these with as little head trauma as possible was to mute them every now and then and say dirty things over what the actor was actually saying and try and match their facial expressions. Especially that of Nick “Drop your Drumsticks” Cannon. After the cast, we have director Steve Miner repeating things said on the commentary track and Dean Jones, special make-up designer, sitting in his make-up room with a bit of fake blood on his lip. The worst part about these interviews isn’t the content itself though. It’s the way they are edited. Each interview is about three to five minutes long, and after each question is answered, the video cuts to black then pops back up with no sound but with the person’s lips moving. Then the sound kicks back in. It was like watching a dubbed Godzilla movie.
Other than that, you get trailers for some independent flicks and a few straight-to-DVD movies. Some are cool, some are meh. Most notable is Blonde and Blonder, in which we are treated to a wrinkly Pamela Anderson and Denise Richards, who are still oddly doable.
In essence, Day of the Dead 2008 is an awful film with awful special features that will hopefully fade from memory in time. Imagine that! A world in which we won’t be forced into saying the word “original” every time we mention Romero’s Day of the Dead.
1 1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5
Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor
Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.
On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.
The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.
While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.
What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.
While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.
IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
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