Day of the Dead 2008 (DVD)
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