Day of the Dead is set in a small Colorado town which has been quarantined by the US Military due to a flu like disease sweeping the town, assigned to her hometown army soldier Sarah (Mena Suvari) takes her mother to a medical facility set up to treat the townspeople a lot of whom seem to be suffering from the flu like symptoms. It's not long before the situation takes a turn for the worse though as those infected start to die & come back as flesh eating zombies, Sarah leads a small group of survivors as they fight for their lives against hordes of flesh eating zombies & try to escape to safety...
Directed by Steve Miner I would imagine many horror fans will be horrified by Day of the Dead. Lets start at the beginning shall we? A filmmaker called George A. Romero made the ground breaking Night of the Living Dead (1968) which changed the face of horror films literally overnight, he then made one of the greatest films ever in it's sequel Dawn of the Dead (1978), then he made a brilliant third film in the trilogy called Day of the Dead (1985) before an OK fourth Land of the Dead (2005) & more recently a fifth film in the series Diary of the Dead (2007). Right, Night of the Living Dead (1990) was remade to great effect, Dawn of the Dead (2004) was next to be remade to fun if unspectacular results & Day of the Dead was initially given a sequel called Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005) which wasn't a sequel at all & was terrible & that brings us bang up to date with this Day of the Dead which is touted as a remake but in reality isn't anything of the sort. The script by Jeffrey Reddick is more akin to something that I would have expected to find on the sci-fi channel rather than a reworking or re-imagining of one of the greatest zombie films of all time, in fact George A. Romero isn't even mentioned during the opening credits which gives you some indication that this Day of the Dead is a million miles from his. Gone are the brilliant character's replaced with a almost entirely teenage cast with even the army soldiers are fresh faced teenage recruits, gone is the oppressive atmosphere, biting social commentary & sense of gloom replaced with lots of 28 Days Later... (2002) shaky camera hyperactive shrieking zombies attacking from all angles as well as Resident Evil (2002) style genetically created virus's that infect a small town turning everyone into zombies & gone is Tom Savini's ultra realistic gore & zombie effects to be replaced with CGI blood splatters. Having said that if you take Day of the Dead on it's own terms then I don't think it's a bad way to pass 90 odd minutes at all, the character's are mostly likable & good looking enough, although the gore doesn't compare to the original there's still a fair amount of blood, there's more action in this at the expense of story though & above all I thought it was quite fun & for what it is pretty entertaining. So shoot me.
Director Miner did actually have a Hollywood career at one point with films such as Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) & Lake Placid (1999) to his credit, he does alright here & despite some shaky camera moments Day of the Dead looks pretty good & is competent if nothing else. While the gore isn't as good or as extensive as Romero's film there's a fair amount of blood, decapitated heads, rotting zombies, gory bites, a few severed limbs & mutilated bodies on show. The special effects vary from good prosthetic make-up effects to poor CGI computer ones. Day of the Dead goes for action set-pieces rather than scares, tension & atmosphere which won't please lovers of the original but there you go.
With a supposed budget of about $18,000,000 Day of the Dead is well made but does have that slightly cheap made-for-video look about it, it looks OK but won't last long in your memory. Shot in Bulgaria to keep the cost down even more. The acting isn't great, it's alright & the largely teenage cast are attractive enough. Having been in the Dawn of the Dead remake Ving Rhames also appears in this as a much toned down Captain Rhodes one of the few direct references to Romero's original, Nick Cannon is the obligatory rapper involved.
Day of the Dead if under any other mundane title such as Virus of the Dead or Dead Rising or something that has nothing to do with Romero's original would stand a good chance of being a well liked fast paced zombie horror, unfortunately by saddling itself with the Day of the Dead name it made a rod for it's own back as it could never come anywhere near Romero's original. Taken for what it is I liked it, as a remake of one of the greatest zombie films ever it's a travesty.