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Day of the Dead

Director: Steve Miner
Cast: Mena Suvari, Stark Sands, Nick Cannon
Running time: 81 minutes
Rating: R

Story: A small Colorado town is quarantined because of a deadly virus. Those who get it awaken as flesh-eating zombies. A group of survivors, soldiers and civilians, seeks shelter from the carnage.

Review: It's really no surprise that George A. Romero's third installment of his 'Dead' series got remade after the first two had already been given such treatment. Fortunately for us they both turned out to be rather good in their own right. Also unsurprisingly this film was met with a lot of negativity from fans of the genre and the original 'Day of the Dead' itself. Now personally 'Day' is my favorite of the series, so I wasn't too thrilled with the idea either. I was expecting a letdown, especially after it was announced this would go straight to video. This however didn't turn out to be the case.

Now this movie is no great piece of art, nor is it a great zombie or horror film, but what it is, is a lot of dumb fun. The acting, for the most part, is good. Having only seen one or two of Mena Suvari's films I wasn't sure if she'd make a believable military officer, but aside from a few bad lines that make her look bad she pulls it off. The rest of the cast, including the much-hated for his acting Nick Cannon, does fine too. Having been shot in Colorado you'd expect some beautiful mountain and forest scenery and that's what you get.

Steve Miner, director of the second and third 'Friday the 13th' movies and 'Halloween H20,' gives this film more style than it deserves. We've got colored lighting, fast motion, well shot attack scenes, etc. One thing that can make or break a zombie film is the effects, both in terms of gore and what the zombies look like. In this case both are very good and very messy. Tyler Bates, who happened to do the score for the 'Dawn of the Dead' remake, composes a nice one here too.

One of the biggest pluses though is that the makers of the film went out of their way to not make this a xerox copy of the original. Aside from some of the same character names, the zombies, and some plot points, this is a very different movie. No kindly Dr. Logan, no dream sequences, and the list goes on. It also helps that the film is fast-paced, which at 81 minutes before the closing credits it had better be. And finally, some of the zombies are dispatched in really cool ways, especially towards the end. I won't spoil any of those however.

One of the biggest negatives is that this film doesn't bring anything to the genre we haven't already seen. Also something seen in a lot of other recent zombie films that's really getting annoying, is the shaky camera thing. When are directors going to understand that this only takes viewers out of the scene and sometimes makes it hard to see what's going on? As I mentioned above there's a few crappy lines that sometimes hurt the actor's performances. Because of the super short running time, it's pretty impossible to get to know the many characters enough to care what happens to them. This especially goes for the great Ving Rhames who's wasted in a tiny, thankless role.

The plot is pretty thin. Virus spreads in small town, turns people to zombies, people try to survive...that's it folks! Been there, done that a thousand times. And finally, and this in both the alternate and final ending, this film leaves the door open for a sequel that frankly would be even more unnecessary than this remake. Bottom line is that this remake of the classic is deeply flawed. This however does not keep it from being super entertaining.

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