Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day of the Dead (2008)

by JM

Mena Suvari. Ving Rhames. Nick Cannon. Directed by Steve Miner. How can this be anything but perfect?

Well, it sucks.

Sorry. Nothing clever to say there. No other way to put it, though. This movie sucks sucks sucks sucks sucks.

Let's just start with the two taglines. First, we get "Faster, Stronger, Deadlier". If that sounds familiar, it is because Deep Blue Sea's DVD sports the tagline "Bigger. Smarter. Faster. Meaner." That was a weak tagline 10 years ago. The second tagline, though, is much worse: "This Spring, The Dead Will Rise!". This Spring?! That sounds like a teaser for a trailer to the movie, not a tagline on the DVD box! For Christ Sake! Besides, it is not Spring of the Dead! At the very least, the tagline should have been "Today The Dead Will Rise". Right?

2009's Day of the Dead bares very little resemblance to George Romero's 1985 movie. The original was a grim and claustrophobic affair, and it is reasonable to expect that the remake would look to amp up the effects, action, and add a few laughs.

Instead, what we get barely qualifies as a remake at all. I kind of doubt it was originally supposed to be a remake of the 1985 picture. In fact, I am not even sure it was intended to be a zombie movie when shooting began.

As a matter of fact, I am pretty certain that the only caryover character, Bud, was kind of an insert so that this movie could titled Day of the Dead and have some connection to the original. Honestly, the character's name is only mentioned a couple of times and the scenes where he is being Bud-like could have easily been inserted.

By the way, in the original, Bud was supposed to have been some sort of government experiment. Scientists had worked to make him tame and were trying to figure out how to get control of all of the other zombies. In this one, Bud is tame because... are you sitting down?... he was a vegetarian when he was alive. So, as a zombie he does not crave flesh. Huh??

Truly, how is this a Steve Miner film? Could this have really been put out by the same guy who gave us Friday the 13 part 2, Warlock, and Halloween H2O??

Every shot in this movie is bathed in nausea-inducing yellow lighting. Watching this movie recreates what it feels like to be car sick.At least, I can say the casting was inspired.

First, you have Mena Suvari as a tough military woman. Yes, that is correct. We are supposed to believe this woman, who can't seem to get her bangs out of her eyes through the entire movie, is supposed to be a hardened soldier. Take a look at Mena as Corporal Sarah Bowman. I think we can all agree she looks like a fifth grader on Halloween night.Secondly, you get Michael Welch as Mena Suvari's brother. You may not know who he is, but he played the brother on the disastrous TV show Joan of Arcadia. Incredibly, this nerdy, whiney-looking twit is supposed to be a rebelious and popular high schooler. It sure makes me wish I had gone to high school in that town. I mean, if this guy is supposed to be cool, then... well, I would have still been a sulky kid on the swim team, I guess.Ving Rhames hams things up as only the man that once played Kojak on the USA channel is able.The strangest casting of all, though, has to be the choice of Nick Cannon as Salazar- a tough guy, street-wise, army private. He pretty much goes from scene to scene saying things like, "That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!" over and over. His entire performance seems channel Busta Rhymes in Halloween Resurrection. I can honestly say having watched Nick Cannon in this movie that I feel badly for Mariah Carey.Of course, CGI is used in virtually every shot in this film. Unfortunately, it is the sort of CGI that one expects to see in a SciFi (or is it SyFy, now?) Original Movie... not something that ever made it to a theater.

The zombies are ridiculous. The can jump about 20 feet in the air. They can crawl across walls and ceilings. The main zombie, in particular, is hysterical. He seems to be a combination of the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz and an extra from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. When he sort of dances across the screen, it is impossible not to laugh.

However, if you are looking to be scared, the movie does deliver with its radio DJ character. Just look at this guy. How does someone's neck get to look like that?!One finger straight at you, Mr. Miner.


  1. Your neck gets like that from eating too many cheese sandwiches....much like the one I'm eating right now!

    Anyway, here's my review of this movie:

    "In case you didn't know, I'm a vegetarian but even I think that if I got "zombified", I'd be quicker to the human carcass buffet than a nerd to a Star Wars convention. But in "Day of the Dead", there is a "vegetarian" zombie. How absurd is that?! It should have been binned in the screenplay stage! This film's crap: obnoxious main characters, an offensive black stereotype, zombies that keep changing what they can "do" and what they can't (ie: jumping), a meandering plot, boring ending and constant nonsensical character decisions. I didn't like it at all."

    I actually liked the "jumping zombies" but they didn't keep up with it - one minute the zombies could jump - another minute they couldn't.

  2. I firmly avoided this one when I saw the first awful ad. Thank you for validating my decision to judge a book by its cover, guys.

  3. One finger indeed. I saw this one and I wish I had not. I'm a big fan of cheap zombie films but this one just blew.

  4. I would give it a solid D for effort. Didnt quite fail in my book, but still pretty not good.

  5. JM,
    Don't sell yourself short. You weren't a sulky swimmer in high school. I mainly remember you as a mean drunk during high school.

    As for that man's's a feature unseen on film since John Travolta turned his head in "The General's Daughter."


  6. This movie is god awful. I shut it out of my mind once it ended...for reasons such as the ones mentioned: Nick Cannon and a f'n vegetarian zombie. Then no neck, fat boy turns into a zombie and tries to use that big neck to swallow people.

    Saw this on a double bill with Automaton Transfusion. Bad (real bad) zombie movie night.

  7. I cannot believe that everyone kind of agrees with me on this one. I figured there would be at least a few people that would defend it. I am glad to know I am not alone in hating this film.

    By the way, Billy, I was only a mean drunk during Senior year. I was a sulky swimmer for three whole years before that.


  8. Ugh..

    Michael Welch was trying to be Edward Norton in this movie.

  9. I think everyone hates this movie - no?

    I apparently blocked it out also, because while I was reading the review I groaned aloud as I remembered a) the vegetarian zombie, and b) Nick Cannon. I cannot believe how bad he was in this movie - it felt like he sent his agent out to find a movie where he could play a badass. And what was with the ridiculous alternate ending?? As if I needed to see more???? God this movie sucks.

    BUT - it's still not as bad as Zombie Diaries. For real.

  10. Wow--I guess I'm TOTALLY in the minority on this one...I thought it was kinda fun!!! Yes? No? Maybe? A wee bit? Am I totally alone here?!

  11. CrazySexyMetalChick!, I actually agree with this.
    Yes, a lot of the film was lame, but at the same time, I actually enjoyed watching it. But, I enjoy any zombie film where survivors are cutting off Zombie heads, and zombies are tearing people apart.
    And I've seen worse Zombie movies. Zombie Diaries wrecked it for me.

  12. I liked it.I thought Mena was cute even when mad.

  13. Mena Suvari was cute throughout the whole movie.She looked the best I've ever seen of her in this movie!