Sunday, August 31, 2008


As 365 Days of the Dead draws closer to its Halloween end date, and a sea of interchangeable, unremarkable undead mediocrities surges forth in my direction, I find myself resisting the temptation to check out early. To phone the last two months in.

I won't, only because I appreciate those of you who read this blog too much, but when faced with something like the 2005 DVD-ready monstrosity DAY OF THE DEAD 2: CONTAGIUM, I gotta admit it's very appealing.

An in-name-only extension of Romero's zombie films, CONTAGIUM (you know you're in for a rough time when a movie's subtitle is a made-up word) bears as much resemblance to DAY OF THE DEAD as BRIDESHEAD REVISITED. Slapping together the weakest, most superficial elements from RESIDENT EVIL, 28 DAYS LATER, and HOUSE OF THE DEAD, this films plays as if Todd Sheets had gotten behind the helm of a Sci-Fi Channel original film. It's an amateur production that had somehow been given a larger than usual budget, and the results are just as derivative, tedious, and uninspired as its micro-budget counterparts.

Directors James Dudelson and Ana Clavell have made a film that almost but not quite reaches the so-bad-it's-entertaining mark. Not that it flirts with the delirious stupidity of TROLL 2, but these co-directors throw in enough details like subtitles identifying what language is being spoken or soldiers who swath their rifles in bandages that you can enjoy the film knowing you could make a better movie. (I wonder if some point during the production, the directors looked at each other and wondered what the hell the other was doing.)

The effects are another curious aspect of CONTAGIUM. While the CGI is as negligible as expected, the zombie and gore make-ups are pretty good, easily the highlight of the picture; but just as you're beginning to appreciate them, the filmmakers have the nerve to pass off dried glue on the actors' faces as peeling skin. This trick didn't cut it in high school jokes, you people.

What's worst about DAY OF THE DEAD 2: CONTAGIUM is that it's more concerned with the title's built-in audience rather than its legacy, in separating fans from their money instead of giving them what they want. Some may find this passable on a camp level, but more discriminating fans (especially Romero's) will want to avoid it.

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