Anchor Bay // 2005 // 103 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // December 3rd, 2005
When there's no more room at Wal-Mart.
No-brand knock-offs are the sort of fare we expect when we shop the mega-marts of modern capitalist excess. We encounter reduced-quality products that provide us the option of selectively "downgrading" to suit our individual needs and tastes. Some such generic offerings, though, skimp much to much and remind us that a buck saved is not necessarily the harbinger of a good value. And while so many non-descript product manufactures clamor for valuable shelf space in these overstocked discount destinations, certainly many others simply cannot secure such retail real estate and probably for good reason. Day of the Dead 2: Contagium is such a product. It's a product that never had a shelf life because it was spoiled long before it was ever packaged. Curiously, the folks at Anchor Bay Entertainment apparently knew this and proceeded to attempt a "Dead Dupe;" they garnished this junk cinema with a name and logo design that serves as a shameless whoring of George A. Romero's fine 1985 cult classic, Day of the Dead. There is no connection to the earlier film here and even though the back cover lies, "part prequel, part sequel," the truth of the matter is this film isn't part anything -- it's all crap!
I have seen the horror and so, dear gore-loving brethren, let me save you fifteen bucks and 93 valuable minutes of your life.
Again, this is a film that bears absolutely no ties nor connection to George A. Romero's third zombie classic. The whole useless affair starts off at a military hospital in Pennsylvania circa 1968 (clever -- I think not). It seems some experimentation with viruses has transformed a patient into some sort of blood-lusting fiend and the militia set about to shoot it and everyone else in sight in a spray of bullets. Amid the melee, an orderly secures a vile of the dangerous chemical compound, secures it in a thermos, then proceeds to lose it in the bushes outside. Flash forward to modern day and the former military hospital has been converted to a mental institution where we meet Dr. Donwynn (Stephan Wolfert) and a handful of his resident patients. Not incapable of reasonably rational thought processes, the patients discover the thermos and, ultimately, open it. The virus goes right to work on the doctor and his patients. Their skin begins to peel, they experience insatiable hunger, and ultimately turn their teeth on one another. Soon, the bite-transmitted infection spreads throughout the facility, giving rise to a ward full of cannibalistic creatures.
Sure, it probably sounded good on paper somewhere but, after enduring this mess, it's conceivable it was scripted on two-ply. While the efforts of amateur filmmakers are to be supported and applauded, especially in the genre that brought forth low-budget delights like The Evil Dead and the original Night of the Living Dead, this one should have been stopped before it ever started. The opening 10 minutes provide a bit of bloody fun but the downright rotten acting and stilted script immediately telegraph that this is junk in a shiny Amaray case. The biggest problem with the picture is that it's largely unencumbered by zombies!. That's right; after the initial flashback sequence, we get much too much lame-ass drama from unskilled actors who are simply not up to the task. It isn't until the final act that the blood starts to flow again, but by that time nobody cares. Why Anchor Bay got behind this film and spent any money on it is a mystery (perhaps they were exposed to a vial of biological badness that had devastating effect on the judgment and reasoning centers of the brain).
Technically, this new DVD performs well. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is clean and free of defects (the feature content notwithstanding). The audio is offered in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround mix and that sounds fine, too. The extras on the disc include an audio commentary with writer/co-director Ana Clavell, producer/co-directory James Dudelson, and Cinematographer James M. LeGoy. Listening to the three bask in their own self-congratulation gives immediate insight into how a bad film like this gets made. There's a behind-the-scenes featurette but, just as you might refrain from watching human waste being excreted, you'll likely find little interest into learning how this waste of time was pinched off.
There is no warning too strong that would urge you to avoid this DVD at all costs. I have been unwittingly afflicted by its poison and I can only hope that, in time, I can purge all recollection of the horrid experience.
Here's one for the pyre.
Review content copyright © 2005 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Audio Commentary
* Making of Day of the Dead 2: Contagium