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Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (October 28/05)

It's frightening to think that horror neophytes will automatically assume that George A. Romero had something to do with Day of the Dead 2: Contagium, though it's a sequel in name only (that, and the fact that a brief prologue occurs in 1968 - the same year Romero's Night of the Living Dead was released). Aside from some decent makeup effects, Day of the Dead 2: Contagium is completely and thoroughly devoid of anything even resembling competence. The level of sheer badness achieved by the film is simply jaw-dropping; it's as though a bunch of people who'd never even seen a movie got together and bungled their way through an entire production.

Day of the Dead 2: Contagium gets off on the wrong foot immediately, as the film opens with a painfully inept sequence in which a deadly virus works its way through a military base. Following the arrival of several computer-generated jeeps and helicopters, the army attempts to contain the outbreak by setting up a perimeter so soft that a dude lugging around a thermos containing the virus just walks right by everyone. Years later, said thermos is uncovered by the residents of a mental home and the virus is unleashed yet again.

There are so many problems with Day of the Dead 2: Contagium, it's virtually impossible to know where to start. Astoundingly enough, it evidently took two people to direct this mess - Ana Clavell and James Glenn Dudelson - and it's clear right from the get-go that both filmmakers are either unable or unwilling to follow the basic rules of cinema. It's common sense stuff, really, and the movie is completely devoid of it; from pacing to framing to character development, Day of the Dead 2: Contagium is lacking anything that could possibly allow the viewer to effectively connect with the story. That Clavell also serves as the film's screenwriter doesn't come as much of a surprise, given the distinctly unauthentic behavior of virtually every single character (really, who reads out an e-mail as they type it?)

The astonishingly banal dialogue is exacerbated by the uniformly amateurish performances, something that even applies to the extras (these are the most unconvincing zombies ever captured on film). Far more troubling is the implication that these zombies are able to communicate with one another via psychic link, a device that's never been used in a film like this for a reason (read: it's incredibly stupid). The inclusion of narration that's pompous and overblown does the film no favors, and it's impossible to shake the feeling that Clavell sincerely believes she's crafted an intelligent horror flick (suffice it to say that the movie is neither intelligent nor horrific).

Day of the Dead 2: Contagium is, from start to finish, an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions; there is literally nothing here worth recommending, and one can only hope that it disappears as quickly as it seems to have emerged.

no stars out of

About the DVD: Anchor Bay presents Day of the Dead 2: Contagium with a crisp, clean transfer that's far better than the movie deserves, while Clavell, Dudelson, and cinematographer James M. LeGoy offer up a commentary track that's undoubtedly more entertaining than the feature. A short behind-the-scenes documentary is also included.
© David Nusair