You won't think Steve Miner's "Day of the Dead" remake is very good during its first 10-15 minutes or so. I just about barfed during the film's opening scenes, featuring a group of teens making out in a barnhouse. This was a zombie movie? With kids making out? At first the sight of Mena Suvari, former Miss American Pie, wearing a National Guardsman uniform, I wanted to give up. This movie was going to suck. I knew it.
Then the Second Act kicked in. Suvari and her buddies become holed up in a hospital where a massive outbreak has reduced almost every man and woman inside into puss-infested flesh eaters. These zombies leap, run, even crawl up walls in their ravenous hunt for human flesh. Without a loaded gun for support. they have to get out of the hospital and into a Humvee and get the hell out of there.
The film starts kicking ass here and never stops until the last frame. It's such a fun zombie movie, I'm amazed it didn't get a full theatrical release. It clearly has a budget worthy of a theatrical release: Great special effects, tons of action (zombies crashing through front car windows, a massive slaughter in a parking lot, total armageddon in a Colorado downtown) and even good actors. No, it's not as good as Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" remake, which clearly had an even bigger budget and ultimately led to Snyder helming the megahit "300". But it's a huge surprise how good this movie is given that it's only being given a DVD release in the U.S.
The storyline has very little to do wtih George Romero's original film, although there is a "Bub"-like good zombie and the climax does take place in an underground bunker. Unlike Romero's film, Miner's remake is packed with wall-to-wall action. In fact, it arguably has more action than Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead." Our protagonists -- Suvari as an unbelievable National Guardsman, her brother, his girlfriend and another national guardsman -- travel from place to place in their quest for survival. Rhames has a smallish role as her superior officer. His turn as a legless zombie is pretty memorable.
If I had some gripes about Miner's movie, they would revolve around the teen "Dawson's Creek" feel the movie has sometimes. But it makes sense it would suffer a bit from that. After all, Miner was behind "Dawson's Creek." There are also too many screaming teenage girls. Zombie films don't need screaming teenage girls. Maybe one or two screams, but this one has a half dozen or more. Even National Guardswoman Suvari screams like a girl, when she's not doing her darndest to play a Sigourney Weaver-like badass.
But this is minor stuff. "Day of the Dead" is made for the videogame zombie generation and it delivers in spades. The zombies in this film bear little resemblance to the Romero zombies of "Night of the Living Dead" through "Diary of the Dead." They're much closer to Snyder's zombies. They run and scream, and only a bullet to the brain will put them down. Unlike Romero's universe, where everyone on earth who dies becomes a flesh eater, in this story it's only the infected that rise from the Of course, this film is totally unoriginal -- borrowing as much from "28 Days Later" as it does from a myriad of living dead films.
But, in the end, it works as a damn good popcorn movie, and proof that remakes aren't always bad -- especially if they're remakes of classic George Romero movies.
I can't wait for the remake of "Land of the Dead."