Main cast: Mena Suvari (Corporal Sarah Cross), Nick Cannon (Private Salazar), Michael Welch (Trevor Cross), AnnaLyne McCord (Nina), Stark Sands (Private Bud Crain), Matt Rippy (Dr Logan), Ian McNeice (DJ Paul), Robert Rais (Mr Leitner), Christa Campbell (Mrs Leitner), and Ving Rhames (Captain Rhodes)
Director: Steve Miner
Colonel Sarah Cross parted ways with her mother and her brother Kyle to join the army ages ago – they didn’t leave on good terms and she is especially estranged from Kyle. Therefore, when she finds herself assigned to her hometown under Captain Rhodes, she doesn’t immediately pay them a visit. Weirdly enough, people are falling sick in the neighborhood, and the military is tasked to keep the people from leaving. There is a quarantine and she begins to wonder about her mother. When her brother Kyle doesn’t return her call, she and the new guy Bud decide to go to her place, check up on her mother, and send the woman to the hospital if necessary. Before you know it, the sick people die and become hungry zombies, so it’s a party in town.
Day of the Dead is loosely based on the zombie movie of the same name that was released in 1985, but while there are same familiar elements – there are main characters in both movies that share the same names or similar-sounding names, and since the Bud fellow here starts out as human, the movie spoils itself for those who have seen the previous movie, heh – almost everything else is brand new, and I don’t mean the awesome, innovative kind of “new”. The zombies here can run very fast, climb things, and more as if they had super powers, making this movie more of an action film with gore than a straightforward horror movie. The gore, by the way, is of the very obvious CGI kind, so it’s not as scary as it is too fake to be frightening most of the time.
Now, make no mistake, this is not a good horror film by any means. The first half or so feels like a series of rather disjointed scenes glued together – the movie wastes time on characters that are never seen again or are quickly killed off – while the second half sees civilians, supposed high school kids mind you, turn into bewilderingly capable action heroes that can match the military people step by step.
Worse, these characters are struck in the “We can’t stop cracking one-liners or making puns no matter what!” mode, displaying zero believable emotion. They squabble and fight with one another when there are zombies waiting to kill them all just around that corner, and there is always time to be sarcastic. The high school kids, Kyle and his girlfriend Nina, don’t even seem fazed by having seen one parent turn into zombies and eating their other parent – they seem to treat the whole thing like they are cadets in some superhero academy eager to test their mettle. Meanwhile, vegetarian zombies are apparently nice types, soldiers go around without guns, bleach apparently can be used to slow down a bitten victim’s transformation into a zombie, and other forms of hilarity ensue. There is no plot build up or momentum, information is dispensed through characters going on exposition dump, and really, this movie is pretty dire.
Still, everything still comes together in a so bad, it’s so good way. I soon stop taking the characters seriously, because the movie actually mocks these characters for their stupidity, and begin instead to laugh at these morons. Day of the Dead is inept in a fun way as it generates unintentional comedy in the process. It also helps that the cast members often come off as so earnest in a misplaced manner, adding to the comedy factor. Ian McNeice seems to be the only one who is onto the joke, although sadly his character is not long for this world.
At any rate, this movie has a laughable, goofball charm to its awfulness, so, if one is in the right frame of mind to just go with the flow, this one can be a pretty entertaining flick.