The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

DAY OF THE DEAD (2008) ½ *


I wouldn’t say I was exactly looking forward to this flick, but I certainly was curious.  Despite how much I say I hate remakes on general principal, the fact is that I’m a sucker for ‘em.  (Case in point, I have Prom Night on my to-do list this week.)  My immediate knee-jerk reaction upon hearing about this remake was one of outright hatred.  I have nothing but love for George Romero’s 1985 classic, Day of the Dead; probably more than most.  It’s a neglected, underrated gem that featured some of the best special effects (courtesy of Tom Savani) you’re likely ever to see. 


Having already sat through one awful Romero penned Night of the Living Dead remake (I still haven’t gotten around to seeing the Sid Haig 3-D version), and the great-but-nowhere-in-the-same-league-as-the-original Dawn of the Dead remake, I was ambivalent about this one.  The fact that it went straight to DVD and stars Nick Cannon filled me with a certain amount of dread, but since it was directed by Steve Miner, the man who directed not one but TWO of the best Friday the 13th sequels and one of the better Halloween installments (not to mention the immortal classic, House), was written by the dude who wrote Final Destination and features Ving Rhames from the Dawn of the Dead (albeit as a different character), that was enough for me to immediately put it to the top of my Netflix queue. 


Besides, it couldn’t be any worse than Day of the Dead 2… could it?


Well, it’s not worse than Day of the Dead 2, but it’s just as bad.  Maybe this will help me learn to trust my instincts.  (Probably not because I have April Fool’s Day, Sisters, and The Invasion still on my queue and they’re all remakes.)


Okay, I’m going to try during the course of this review to keep comparisons to the ’85 original to a minimum, because honestly, there's no way in Hell this flick will even come close to matching the original and besides, how in the world can you top the scene in the first Day where the zombie gets up off the operating table and all his guts fall out? 


The remake opens with a bunch of teenagers making out in an abandoned warehouse who go out “exploring” and become exposed to a virus that turns them into zombies.  That’s right, the zombie plague hadn’t even begun yet, so we get no scenes of the world in ruins as zombies march on the deserted streets of… damn… sorry I’m comparing this thing to the original.  I know I promised not to do that but c’mon, this set-up wouldn’t even cut it for Return of the Living Dead 6. 


Anyway, the plot is thus:  People turn into zombies and run amok in the streets while a bunch of soldiers led by Mena (American Pie) Suvari try to stay alive. 


You know when you think of a tough military leader; Mena Suvari is about the 761st actor you think of.  (Right in between Warwick Davis and Carrot Top.)  But I digress. 


Rhames plays Captain Rhodes, who if you remember in the original, was played by Joe Pilato and was one of the vilest villains in screen history.  Pilato couldn’t even say a single sentence without screaming at the top of his lungs and dropping the F-Bomb fifty times.  As played by Rhames in this movie, Rhodes is a complete pansy who says things like “please” and “excuse me”.  I’m not kidding. 


Again, I’m comparing this mess to the superior ’85 flick, I gotta stop doing that. 


Rhodes also buys the farm about a half hour into this abortion and unlike the original, his death is off screen.  That’s right, you heard me.  Off screen.  No gut ripping.  No “Choke on ‘em!”  Nothing.  Later, he comes back as a zombie and eats his own eyeball. 


You’ll want to do exactly the same thing before the movie’s over. 


Oh, and remember the Dr. Logan character, played with sheer manic brilliance by Richard Liberty?  Well his character in the remake is played without a hint of well… anything by some numb-nut underwear model with the all the screen presence of a used Brill-O pad. 


What’s worse is that there is no Bub character.  Bub was the soul of the original film.  He was proof that there was something more to the zombies than just mindless flesh eaters.  Unlike Romero, Miner is less concerned with the implications of the zombie’s intelligence, and more concerned with just rehashing the Dawn remake but on the budget of a Sci-Fi Channel Original.  The closest thing this bloody tampon of a movie can offer is a soldier named “BUD” who turns into a zombie but doesn’t eat anybody because he is a VEGETARIAN.


I shit you not.  I couldn’t make this crap up if I tried.   


The most telling thing about this embarrassment is that this flick takes place mostly at NIGHT.  What.  The.  Fuck.  This was called DAY of the Dead right?  If the filmmakers don’t even know the difference between night and day, what makes you think they know how to make a competent movie?  There IS an underground military bunker however, but it takes the characters 70 minutes to find it. 


Okay, I’ve completely given up accepting this thing on it’s own merits.  The comparisons are unavoidable.  The original Day is a classic.  This shit heap is just a prison raping of the original’s memory. 


And while we’re being completely honest with each other, let me lay it all on the line for you:  There are NO zombies in this movie. 


What happens to these people is that they get sick and their faces turn into one of the “Before” pictures from those Proactiv commercials, then they start running around like Jesse Owens on crank, wailing like a banshee.  Though they do eat the flesh of the living, that’s about the only thing they have in common with zombies as we know them.  Even the zombies from 28 Days Later were within the realm of reason.  They ran fast mind you, but not as fast as extras on Benny Hill.


Let me ask you this:  Do zombies crawl on ceilings and walls like Spider-Man?  No they do not.  Do zombie’s heads explode whenever they get burned?  Uh-uh.  Do zombies dodge bullets like Remo Williams?  Not in my book they don’t.


The acting is awful.  Nobody gave a shit about their characters, so why should you?  The only memorable character is the Jabba the Hutt British hippie DJ, but even he isn’t given anything to do. 


The only worthwhile thing I can say about this flick is that at least the gore is somewhat decent.  Tattoos are ripped off their skin, faces are eaten off, and there are decapitations aplenty, but the rest of the movie is so mind-numbingly stupid that it hardly helps matters any.  (Spider-Man Zombies!?!  Are you fucking kidding me Miner?)


The only way to survive this flick is to take a shot of your favorite booze every time Nick (Roll Bounce) Cannon opens his mouth.  Even though the town is overrun by Peter Parker Pus Suckers, he still makes lame Ebonics fueled wisecracks like, “That’s gangsta!”, “What’s happening player?”, and “It’s a Puffy video!”  When the annoying douchebag finally DOES get eaten by zombies, Miner does the audience a great disservice by not showing us his demise.  I wanted to see that ass clown devoured by a horde of zombies and revel in every organ biting moment, but NO! 


Miner must have forgotten everything he ever knew about filmmaking.  You’d think a man that had made THREE slasher sequels, a haunted house movie, a killer crocodile flick (Lake Placid) and a demented Warlock movie (Warlock) would know what to do when it came to zombies, but you’d be wrong.  Miner also made the Mel Gibson cold-storage drama, Forever Young, which is infinitely more terrifying than this feces fest.  


Honestly, you’ll wish this had been directed by Uwe Boll instead. 

Tags: d, horror, horror remake, remake, zombie

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