This movie, and I use that word loosely here, carries the title of Day of the Dead mainly in an attempt to lure in fans of George Romero's "Dead" films. Day of the Dead 2: Contagium, is in no way, shape, or form, associated with the legendary horror director, and is said to be a "tribute". This "tribute" is basically amateurish film making at the very worst, with horrible acting and editing, and the blood and gore effects are incredibly fake looking. The story, or lack there of, attempts to tie into the storyline of Romero's films, but it makes no sense at all. Now I know this crew had little to work with, but amateur horror movies of the past, such as the classic original Evil Dead and even the Dead Next Door, have proven that you can do a lot with a little. The fact that Anchor Bay, which has given us great Special Editions of the aforementioned films and even Romero's Dawn of the Dead and the real Day of the Dead, would release this is mind boggling, but I guess everyone is into cash-in's these days. All in all, Day of the Dead 2 is beyond bad, and it should definitely be avoided by everyone.
on December 5, 2006
On the back of the DVD case there's a bit that states the following...'Part prequel, part sequel, and a total, gut-ripping, gore-spewing homage to the original'. After watching Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005) a more applicable statement might have been `Part prequel, part sequel, 100% unadulterated rubbish'...at least in terms of the film trying to be an entry into George Romero's original `Dead' series. Written and co-directed by Ana Clavell (Creepshow 3), the other director being James Glenn Dudelson (Creepshow 3), who's also listed as the producer, the film features Laurie Baranyay (Intoxicating), Justin Ipock (Grave Situations), and Stephan Wolfert. Also appearing is Steve Colosi, John Freedom Henry (American Skin 2: Eagles Gathering), Julian Thomas, Samantha Clarke, Joe C. Marino (Hatchetman), and Andreas van Ray...as you can see, for many of the performers this was their first feature, and it shows much of the time.
As the movie begins the year is 1968 and we're at a Ravenside, a military installation somewhere in Pennsylvania (interestingly enough there happens to be palm trees in Pennsylvania, something I didn't know. I did, however, know there were palm trees in L.A., where the film was actually shot). Anyway, something bad is going down (beside this film), resulting in zombies running around, and the military makes the scene, killing everything on sight. One man escapes with a thermos containing a whirly, twirly vial, but he gets shot and the thermos is lost in the underbrush. Fast forward some thirty-seven years and we see a group of schmucks (inmates at an asylum that just happens to be located where the military installation was so many years prior, at least before the army blew it up) and one of them finds the thermos, believing it to be some sort of treasure. I'm not going to bother going into specifics in terms of the various character (as it's not worth the effort), but as you can guess, one of them manages to open the thermos allowing the vial to fall out. After doing so it releases these magical, glowing, Tinkerbell spores that attach themselves to a handful of people present at the time. Subsequently these individuals get sick and start shedding their skin, along with developing oozing scabs. The symptoms clear up, but guess what? Those affected are now walking, talking zombies, capable of cognizant thought and also sharing a symbiotic relationship in that what happens to one, happens to all (if one bumps his/her head, the others feel it)...the facility is eventually quarantined as the guy heading up the place seems to know what's going down and decides he wants to see how things play out (scientific curiosity, I suppose), but the stinky brown stuff hits the fan as things get seriously out of hand given the extremely contagious nature of the virus released from the aforementioned whirly, twirly vial...
Do you ever watch a film and start thinking about how the money spent in making said film could have been better spent? This is one of those kinds of movies (they should have just given me the money to fund my Catholic high school girl beach volleyball program). I think one of the biggest mistakes with this film, besides it being made, was the filmmakers attempts to insinuate the feature within George Romero's `Dead' continuum, especially since it felt apparent to me they had little intent on adhering to much of what those of us familiar with the series have come to learn about the undead in general from Romero's classic films (Romero's name isn't in any of the credits, so I doubt he had anything to do with this stink bomb). The situations played out in this film were more akin to the Resident Evil films than anything else, at least in my opinion (there's a lot of mutation elements thrown about). Had they not tried to attach their project to the `Dead' franchise, I think perhaps the film would have played out a little better, but not much. Normally I try to find at least one positive aspect in a movie but I was hard pressed to do so here, primarily because the story was so, damn boring and the characters strictly two dimensional. Even the ten minute opening sequence, one that should have been exciting as it featured army men fighting the undead, was completely lifeless (no pun intended) and devoid of any, real fun. The film then drags along for next hour and ten minutes until the last twenty minutes or so, when some zombie action kicks in (it's during this time things get visceral, but by then I had lost much of my interest by this point). There were quite a few specifics I despised in terms of this film, some of the main aspects being the following...
1. The mental patients in general...I've seen real, live loonies before and the people acting all crazy here seemed just that, regular people trying to act crazy. Hey, let's walk oddly with weird hairstyles and sit around and rock back and forth with stupid, simpleminded grins on our faces. Don't we appear crazy?
2. Near the middle an affected doctor does an Internet search in terms of learning about the vial, and he does get a response from someone, a civilian, who knows quite a bit. Later on, after the hospital's been quarantined (and supposedly locked down), the dude with the information just shows up in one of the day rooms so that he can dump a huge, steaming load of exposition in our laps. How in the hell did this guy even get in? Also, given what he knows, it seemed completely idiotic that he'd even show up, my point proved once he meets his end.
3. There was some gunplay throughout, but never once did I see empty shells being ejected from various weapons or any other indicators that the weapons were actually being fired (smoke, muzzle flashes, etc.) other than the associated sound effects, which were obviously edited in during post production. This may not seem like a big deal, but when a film bores you stupid, it's not unusual to focus on the trivial flaws more so than if you were truly engaged in the plot. By the way, I don't think some of the firearms used in the opening sequence existed at that particular period of time, but then I'm no weapons expert.
4. Zombies don't talk, at least not in my book. They make guttural moans, groans, and growls, and they may grunt out the occasional word or two ("Brains!"), but they don't stand around discussing with each other about their situation, trying to fathom the changes they're going through.
I'm sure there's more, but that's what I came up with off the top of my noggin. All in all I thought this a generally worthless experience, one that lacked any respect for the franchise it's trying to leech off of, and worthy of a single star out of five.
The picture on this Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD release, presented in widescreen anamorphic (1.85:1), enhanced for 16X9 TVs, looks decent, and the Dolby Digital stereo audio comes through well. There are some extras including an audio commentary track with writer/co-director Ana Clavell, producer/co-director James Glenn Dudelson, and cinematographer James LeGoy, along with a `making of' featurette and trailers for other Anchor Bay DVD releases like Day of the Dead (1985), All Souls Day (1997), It Waits (2005), The Evil Dead (1981), and Demon Hunter (2005).
By the way, the people who made this film are also behind Creepshow 3 (2006) so needless to say my expectations for that film have been lowered significantly after witnessing this abomination.
It's a pretty ballsy move to make a low budget zombie film and call it Day Of The Dead 2. Expectations will be high based solely on that, and the disappointment will be greater if the movie is mediocre. And what's with the title anyway? Why make a "sequel" to a part 3 of a four part series? It sounds as silly as Making an Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom Part 2. Romero fans will either be excited to see this or just shake their heads and walk away. But you can't help but be a bit curious about the film. After all, it has claimed to be both a sequel and prequel to Day of the Dead. Hell, even the coverbox art is very close to Day's. I was one of those who took the plunge, after all I'll take a bad sequel over a remake anyday. What does this film have to do with Day Of The Dead? Doodly squat! I did become kinda angry that someone would just make their own zombie movie and try to pass it off as a direct tie-in to Romero's stuff. That's rather cheap. Who knows if maybe in the future someone would actually make a fairly decent sequel to Day? Now they can't coz some schmuck has used up the title on their crap! If the film had just simply used the title Contagium, people may not love it, but would be easier on it. Plotwise, there's a vial containing the zombie virus found on the grounds of a mental institution(it survived a military raid on a hospital in the 60s). The vial's opened, the virus infects our four leading characters, and a good portion of the film is their slow transformation. In the end, zombies have overrun the hospital and mankind looks doomed. Well, a film claiming to tie in with Day Of The Dead manages to break the rules set forth by Romero. Zombies talk and have a fairly large degree of intelligence. They have their memories from their life. The infected heroes don't get all ugly and decomposed because we're supposed to like them. The zombies have some sort of collective conscience where they can all hear something that just one zombie hears. Or one gets shot or slapped, the others experience it. The slap scene is funny coz all the other zombies' heads snap to the right. It kind of reminds you of the dancing zombies in the Thriller video. The FX are actually decent, the acting as good as to be expected, and the story isn't all that bad, it just needed to be it's own movie, coz what we got here is a really low attempt to cash in on Romero's name.