Review: Day of the Dead (2008)

I don’t know why I even bothered.

No, that’s a lie. I DO know why:

I like zombie movies and I LOVE the original “Day of the Dead” and this was a remake. When they remade “Dawn of the Dead” a few years ago, it turned out awesome (I don’t care WHAT the rest of you say) so surely they won’t roll and Epic Fail on “Day…”

Damn, I hate being wrong.

This movie wasn’t exactly BAD. Not exactly. Not compared to some of the other crap I’ve seen in the zombie genre recently If this movie had been named anything other than “Day of the Dead,” they I’d say it was an okay film. Not great. Maybe not even good. Mediocre. Yes, that’s what I’d say. But no… they had to name it “Day of the Dead” and bill it as a remake of Romero’s classic.

And for THAT, they must die.

The plot of this movie and the plot of Romero’s original have absolutely NOTHING in common. Nothing. At all.

The characters in this movie and the character’s in Romero’s original have NOTHING in common… except their names. That’s it.

It’s even debatable that this movie is even about zombies. The lovely on-screen carnage is the result of a military-created virus that turns people into things that look and act like zombies of the fast-running variety, but whether or not they actually ARE undead is never actually addressed. You assume they are, but there’s nothing in the film to back up that assumption, except the title, of course.

So on what basis do they call this a remake of Romero’s “Day…”?

That’s a good f’ing question, and if you ever find out I’d love to know the answer. This movie has soldiers and a guy named “Bud” who’s eventual fate is telegraphed the instant you learn his name, but other than that, this is a remake of “Day of the Dead” like I’m the reincarnation of Stephen King (who isn’t even dead yet).

Oh yeah, I guess I should tell you what this movie is about, since you can’t assume the plot based on the original. A virus that turns people into zombies (…maybe…) gets loose in a small town. It’s transmitted through the air AND via bites. Some people can’t catch it from the air, but everyone can get it from bite. Riiiiight. The symptoms start off like the flu, but then you “zone out” for a few seconds during which you appear (and might actually be) dead. Suddenly the flesh starts rotting off of your body, you open your eyes and start chomping on anyone nearby. A national guard unit is sent to keep the place calm and quarantined, but once the entire town simultaneously transforms into a horde of flesh-eating zombies, the few soldiers/townspeople who are sort-of immune have to fight their way out of town.

Sounds a hell of a lot like the original “Day of the Dead” doesn’t it?

Yes, there’s a secret military facility that shows up at the end, and yes there’s a zombie named Bud that doesn’t run around eating his friends (because he’s a vegetarian!?!). But why even CALL it “Day of the Dead” if all you’re going to keep are a couple of plot points and the names of the major characters? Why? Because people like me will go out and buy it, that’s why.

List of particularly annoying changes-for-no-reason:

They replaced the original, mostly adult cast with essentially a bunch of teenagers. Every main character in this movie is under the age of 22…. probably under 19. All the adults in the town are either fatally stupid or fatally unlucky, meanwhile the kids have the luck of the gods and can easily survive such stupidity as “Hey that’s my mom! We have to let her in!” Bullshit.

Ving Rhames plays the character of Rhodes in this movie. He doesn’t last long enough to even be interesting. He’s essentially in this film just so they can put his name on the cover as further enticement for you …err, me… to buy it. Bullshit.

Bud the “intelligent zombie” was a major part of the original. Here, he’s a vegetarian soldier that’s in love with the main character, and thus doesn’t eat her when he turns into a zombie near the end of the story. He even tries to protect her… until the other zombies realize he’s not playing on their team and tear him to pieces. Bullshit.

Gone is… not some… not most of… but ALL of the tension and horror of the original movie. This is essentially a low-grade action movie with teenagers vs. zombies. And some of the teenagers happen to be in military uniforms. Well, hell, so are some of the zombies. And the military vs. civilian dynamic that was such huge part of the original movie? Gone… replaced with some brother/sister sibling rivalry and unexplained drama involving a bicycle. BULLSHIT.

So let’s see what we’ve got:

+9: Zombies. (Assuming they ARE zombies).
+7: Action. Lots of people getting eaten and zombies getting re-deadified in nicely bloody ways.
+5: Zombies with guns! That was a pleasant surprise.
+2: Mom-zombie vs. Humvee made me laugh. Too bad this wasn’t a comedy.

-20: Remakes get points off for general principle. THIS one gets extra points off for totally ruining my favorite z-flick.
-10: Not getting the f’ing point of the original. Does this mean I’m taking 30 points off for the same thing? Yes, it does. Because I hate it that much.
-10: Makes the military look like a bunch of hyperactive retarded children with guns and too much candy.
-7: The cool image on the cover of the DVD does not actually appear in the movie.
-5: WTF-Rhodes!? he’s supposed to be a main character!
-2: Since when do zombies crawl on walls like spiders?
-2: The evil-doctor zombie was an excellent plot device. Too bad they skipped right past it in their rush to blow up more stuff.
-1: T&A? None. None in the original either, but still…

Final Result: Don’t bother. Don’t even pick up the box at the video store; just keeeep walking. Or better yet, rent the original instead.


1 Comments

  1. Kragon, April 13, 2008:

    Well that shoots down my expectation of this movie. Thanks for the heads up DI. You honestly saved me from one big fat disappointment. This coming from one zombie lover to another.

    A couple of years ago when I caught wind of a Day of The Dead remake. I fucking got excited because I thought ‘Hey, maybe they’ll make the movie from the original script that Romero wrote up. That would be fucking awesome!!!’ Of course this is me hoping that that there is at least ONE Hollywood director out there that can do the right thing and at least try to keep a remake of a cult classic at least some what fateful… Turns out I’m wrong…again.

    But who am I kidding it’s fucking Hollywood! By the way did you ever get the chance to read that script of the original ‘Day…’ movie?

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