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Monday, April 17, 2017

Day of the Dead (2008)

I’ve always been a huge fan of zombie movies, especially those of the great George Romero. With the popularity of zombies peaking in the 2000s we got to see some new movies from the inventor of the modern zombie, but sadly we also saw Hollywood cash in on his legacy. This remake, in name only, of Romero’s classic is one of those attempts.

The setting of this version of Day of the Dead switches to a small Colorado town. The story begins with people trying to leave, only to be stopped by an army roadblock. There is a quarantine, or a practice quarantine. We get both explanations. Of course, being a zombie movie we the viewer know before the characters that it is a real quarantine. Soon the infected turn into fast moving, wall climbing, semi-intelligent undead that only want to eat the flesh of the living. Our main characters of Lori, her brother Trevor, and an ever-decreasing group of forgettable fodder must survive long enough to escape the outbreak.

I hate when someone remakes or re-imagines a movie. Most of the time they try to change it so that it plays better to today’s audience. If the original has enough of a following that you want to cash in on its name maybe it works just fine with a modern crowd? Here it isn’t even an update since they toss the entire story. The only thing this version has in common with the original is the title, zombies, and some of the character’s names. That sucks. You know what else sucks? Fast moving zombies! Don’t like them and for the filmmakers to make that choice for this remake annoys me. I hate them (fast moving zombies) and make no apologies about that.

I just want to be clear, this is a perfectly serviceable zombie movie. It hits all my must have bullet points for a night with the walking dead. We get plenty of gore. Heads are shot, faces ripped off, and limbs are gnawed on. Sure, most of the work is done with digital effects, but you just don’t get a lot of good old practical work these days. We also have a great “outbreak” scene. Here it happens at a hospital when all the infected suddenly turn. I love watching characters’ deal with the confusion of zombies. Finally, there are some funny lines and situations. I mean Bub the zombie doesn’t try to eat them because he was a vegetarian! Dumb but still a funny bit.

Notice I said it was a perfectly serviceable zombie movie. If this had been called anything other than Day of the Dead I would have been okay with it. But when you use the name of a legendary movie like the original Romero classic, either as a remake or sequel, you must live up to it. If you don’t then it comes off as a cash grab taking advantage of the work of a much better filmmaker. This is how I felt when I first watched the movie in 2008 and is still the vibe when I watched it again this year. While not an awful movie I still can’t recommend that anyone spend ninety minutes of their time on it. Go grab a copy of the original instead!

© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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