Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Frank Review of "Day of the Dead: The Need To Feed" (2008)

The Short Version? Raccoon City has been infected with the Rage virus.
What Is It? Survival Horror.
Who Is In It? The American Pie/Beauty girl, the scrawniest chick from the 90210 remake, other embarrassed parties.
Should I See It? No.

Right off the bat, this film is technically just titled Day of the Dead. However, there's a might bit of confusion in associating it with George A. Romero's Day of the Dead, Day of the Dead 2: Contagium, Candyman 3: Day of the Dead, or Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Alien, Flesh Eating, Hellbound, Zombified Living Dead Part 2: In Shocking 2-D, not to mention the Mexican holiday. I mention this in such detail because I have lines to fill, and this derivative and dull dreck won't do it own its own. Besides, the distributors added the exceptionally dumb tagline to every version of the movie released (straight to DVD,) framed like a subtitle, so I'm going with it.

When Day of the Dead was announced, it had the air of a sequel to the surprisingly solid Zack Snyder/James Gunn reworking of Dawn of the Dead. Mena Suvari bares a mild resemblance to Sarah Polley, and what she lacks in comparative acting ability, she could potentially make up for in vaguely higher name recognition. Ving Rhames was "back," though as it turned out in a different, smaller role. Raptor Nick Cannon is certainly better known than Mekhi Phifer, if only as Mariah Carey's trophy husband. Also, while standing up to comparison with George A. Romero's 1978 Dawn was a tough row to ho, not only was the original 1985 Day underwhelming, but there had even already been a massively inferior pseudo-sequel. On paper, this could have worked.

Day begins with something like video footage (as did the Dawn remake, from another studio,) then careens into a teen makeout session in an abandoned military complex. Recalling Return of the Living Dead 3 isn't going to win anyone over, and also serves to remind that this flick was directed by Steve Miner, best known as the responsible party for the blandest entries in the notoriously banal Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises (2&3; H20, respectively.) Rest assured, you go from 0 to hating this group of characters in well under sixty seconds.

Cut to a military roadblock, as the area surrounding a shithole hick town is under quarantine. Mena Suvari begins her tour as the least convincing soldier in film history, while Marsellus Wallace in fatigues sleepwalks on. Cut to Ian McNeice as a morbidly obese, obnoxious lefty DJ having his broadcast monitored by a trooper. Cut back to the teens and the first boring, nearly bloodless, offscreen woodlands kill (see also Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, for a near exact model.) Cut back to the barricade, where we are introduced to Nick Cannon's poor man's Martin Lawrence impersonation as G.I. Douchebag. Transition to Stark Sands as "Bud," the next least convincing enlisted man after Arnold Epstein in Biloxi Blues. He's a non-violent vegetarian, and as the name indicates, one of the few characters who will eventually reflect the 1985 Day. Cut to blah, blah, blah, more stupidity, and a little bit of gore for twenty-three trying minutes.

Finally, money begins to be spent, as we see an insta-zombie transformation at the cellular level via CGI. Unfortunately, this flesh-eater is poorly designed, making me think of Michael Jackson's Reece's cup nose in The Wiz. Lacking any atmosphere and tension, this first onscreen attack sets the standard at "bland and uninvolving." Oh, and we've met the new Dr. Logan by this point, another young'un who looks fresh from a soap opera. Yeah, it's one of those films. The fit really hits the shan about here, both in terms of everyone turning into ghouls at once, and in the egregious abuse of digital effects, tired music video gimmicks, trampolines (see also: Jack Nicholson's 1994 farce Wolf) and varied film speeds. The movie aspires to 28 Days Later... but
more closely resembles Buster Keaton on crystal meth.

For no reason but to create a complication, Mena Suvari refused to load her gun while on duty, which I'm pretty sure is a court martial worthy act of insubordination. She spends half the movie play-acting like her pistol is loaded, and once she gets a useful gun she works it fine, so what the fuck? Bud gets turned-- but refuses to eat flesh, still follows orders, and even gets to play hero. Nick Cannon, Mimi's bitchboy, is supposed to be the resident badass. Ving Rhames is punked worse here than in The People Under The Stairs. AnnaLynne McCord, the CW's teen drama queen who can't keep her tits inside clothing not purchased from a children's department in real life, probably turns in the best performance as a tough chick. Like I said, it's that kind of flick.

falls short of . Well okay, it's not as amusingly bad as House, but Miner clearly shares .

All in all, the movie feels like a mash-up of Uwe Boll's notorious ineptpiece House of the Dead and Paul Anderson's Resident Evil, with aesthetic sensibilities leaning more toward Dr. Boll. It's alright when the focus is on action, and in the rare moments the humor doesn't grate, it's remotely gratifying. There are some decent effects, and you can see why this was at least considered viable for theatrical release. The primary fault is in the lackluster characters, none of whom you are likely to identify with or be endeared enough to be concerned about who lives or dies. The music is lame, and there aren't any scares to speak of. It's just a shade shy of professional quality, but the project seems to have been mercenary for everyone involved. This was a paycheck gig at every level, and these whores aren't even bothering to wait until you're not looking to check the time .


  • Commentary Gets in the way of pretending this movie never crawled up from out of a gaping hole in Bulgaria.
  • Various Trailers None of interest.
  • Alternate Ending A really long edit of material you've already seen with some mild and unwelcome variations.
  • On The Set Zzz.
  • Photo Gallery Get a really good view at the incredibly emaciated undead Olsen Twins looking chick, as well as AnnaLynne McCord's costars, and zombie make-up. Fully appreciate the size of Mina's nostrils and Cannon's phoniness.
  • Interviews Do an alright job on selling the premise that the actors are too stupid to know how bad this film is from the script up.


mathematicscore said...

Buster Keaton on Crystal Meth. Now there's a thought.

Diabolu Frank said...

It was a reach. I read a few other reviews, and couldn't use Benny Hill as a reference with feeling like a plagiarist.


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