I really, really did not have high hopes for this movie. For those of you without the benefit of back-story, let me explain. I learned about this film when I was watching the horrible atrocity that was Creepshow 3. When Carl (ILHM) reviewed that film about a month later, I made a reference to it in his Comments area. In a roundabout way, I dared myself to watch this movie, which is an unofficial prequel to a film that is disguised as an unofficial sequel to a good movie. As Wikipedia explains, it is technically allowed to be called a sequel, since the same production company that made this movie owns the film rights to Day of the Dead. The bottom line is this: there is just too much back-story for a film this stupid. Since I've already watched it, you get to experience it too. This is...
The film begins with a zombie outbreak occurring in 1968. Look, movie- I know what you're trying to do and it won't work! The military- in the form of like six guys- show up and start shooting zombies. One guy gets it easy and just shoots tied up patient zombies in their rooms one at a time. This works for several minutes until the plot decides that there are too many & he dies in a mass attack. This is remarkably similar to Captain Rhodes' death in the good film, but lacks a lot of the impact due to build-up and characterization. A pair of snipers meet a similar fate when they stop shooting zombies and go 'gee, there are a lot of zombies.' While all of this stupidity is going on, one of the assistants in the lab steals a vial of toxin that apparently turns people into zombies. Yes, they are in fact stealing that plot device from Return of the Living Dead. He makes a good ways out of the building before being shot in the head by some soldiers on the outside perimeter. He drops the thermas containing the vial, which is never found. Yes, they are in fact stealing that plot point from Jurassic Park too. Hey folks, let's do 'The Time Warp!'
The film jumps ahead to the present...of 2005. The hospital is now a mental hospital, because biohazard sites are often reclaimed for use....right. The place is full of people, the majority of which are patients. The hierarchy here is a bit confusing as some patients walk right on the outskirts of the grounds, while doctors are few and far between. Our heroes are a group of people that work there...on something. The movie is not that giving on details and my attention span barely stayed intact here. While out wandering around, they discover the Thermos and decide to keep it. The movie decides that we need to see them going about their daily lives and doing nothing interesting for at least ten minutes. I appreciate reality in horror films, but you can skimp on some details, guys! The whole thing is also a bit too much like a soap opera, as one man is in love with a patient and, unbeknownst to the staff, makes conjugal visits to her. The majority of this is explained in what little of the 'Making Of' that I could manage. Clearly the actors knew the plot, but did not feel like sharing with us! Blah blah blah, one guy opens the canister and exposes the group to the toxin.
The movie also has a lovely little device that counts down the days to zero. Gee, I wonder what happens then, movie?!? As time goes by, the people start to come down with weird skin conditions and boils. They feel the need to wonder about this out-loud, even though we can clearly see what his happening. Hey guys, let me know if the sun is up too! More sub-plots bubble to the surface, since the middle of this film has no plot other than 'what is happening to us?' If you manage to survive the middle 50 minutes of this film, you are treated to some zombie kills and chaos. Even after all the build-up though, this seems to come out of nowhere, if that makes any sense. As one man is explaining the 'secret' events from the beginning, one of our heroes jumps up and bites him on the head, killing him in seconds...for some reason. After a brief pause, they all join in. Way to embrace unlife, guys! The ending portions are actually kind of entertaining, even if they are cliche. People get bitten, people try to shoot zombies and a news crew is attacked. 103 minutes later and we get The End.
Do I even need to tell you that this movie is bad? Did I even need to do spend three paragraphs explaining how? Since I already did, I guess the answer is 'yes.' I can see the idea that they had, but they did not have the writing or acting talent to pull it off. Since this is allegedly a prequel, I can understand the idea of building everything up. However, the beginning gives you a false sense of interesting that the movie cannot deliver. It would be like Sophie's Choice beginning with a fighter jet attack! The zombie make-up and gore that you get is not bad, but that was the same thing with Creepshow 3. Dammit film, if you are going to make me say non-insulting things about Creepshow 3, I am going to pull this review over right now! Here's a ringing endorsement for you: you are better off with the 2008 remake of Day of the Dead, because that at least has numerous zombie attacks throughout. It still sucks, but in entertaining ways, at least. Rent any zombie film over this one- except for Zombie 5.
Up next, Rip-Off Cinema brings you a tale of space travel, wandering around and John Carradine's disembodied head. Stay tuned...