Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Trailer-Night Of Fear/Inn Of The Damned, Candyman
Trailer-Candyman-Farewell To The Flesh, Society
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
James Glenn Dudelson
Taurus Ent Co
John Freedom Henry
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It can be disheartening for horror fans to come to terms with just how much filmic effluent they must sift through before finding that gruesome gem. It does, however, make those moments of intense excitement on discovering a stunning genre piece like The Descent, The Ring, Ginger Snaps, May, Bubba Ho Tep, Cherry Falls, Final Destination and Malefique seem like an epiphany - someone out there shares their passion, creates a horror film with their blood, sweat and tears and offers it up on a macabre silver platter.
Unfortunately, DOTD: 2C is not one of these jewels – it’s not even close to being a diamond in the rough. In fact, there’s so much wrong with DOTD: 2C, I really don’t know where to start. I even tried to consider it as a stand-alone piece, but the font used in the title is identical to the original Day of the Dead and the blurb on the back of the case proudly insists that DOTD: 2C is “both a prequel and a sequel to George A. Romero’s landmark zombie movie.”
In 1968 an experiment being conducted in a military hospital using a strange gas turns the personnel into flesh-eating zombies. When a young orderly grabs a flask full of the gas, he’s shot when trying to escape and drops the deadly container in the bushes outside the complex. Cut to the present where the hospital is now an insane asylum. Predictably, a maintenance worker finds the flask, opens it and the zombie mayhem starts all over again.
The entire production of DOTD: 2C looks like it was put together by a well-intentioned but self-conscious first-year film student – stilted script, at-hand actors, clichéd camera angles and blisteringly tacky special effects smother the viewer with a blanket of disappointment. It also becomes obvious that the producers were so excited about cutting-and-pasting from the zombie films they were trying to emulate, they forgot about narrative cohesion. The film confusingly jumps back and forth through time and too many ‘strange’ characters are wandering around with very little to do other than being food for half-turned zombies.
The script and subsequent delivery of it is abysmal - Dr Heller (Andreas van Ray) cops some of the worst lines: “Even the fastest deer will get hit by a car when it has crossed the roads too many times” (sic). His weird accent (a strange mix of Dutch and American) is as thick as the dialogue he is forced to impart.
The special effects are frighteningly amateurish - peeling facial skin looks like it was achieved by applying some liquid glue and a fully metamorphosed zombie bears a striking resemblance to the curry monster from the DNA episode of Red Dwarf. Facial veins look like they were drawn on with an eyebrow pencil. Facial bruises appear real, but they probably were a result of the actors bopping their heads on the camera, considering the film’s ridiculous number of head-and-shoulder close-up shots.
One moment of inspiration that attempts to add value to the zombie mythos almost passes without notice. Although we learn that metamorphosing humans have a telepathic connection and can feel each other’s pain, not much is made of this fascinating fact. It’s clumsily introduced and eventually becomes swallowed up by the lack of ambition and overall dullness of the film.
Although it could have been the intention of the filmmakers to sculpt a zombie flick that paid respect to the work of Romero, the final outcome doesn’t smell of rotting flesh, but rather the metallic aroma of cold hard cash wafting through an executive’s office. Unfortunately, Taurus Entertainment – who, surprisingly enough, were the producers of the original Day of the Dead – own the rights to the title and perhaps needed the cash to finance the later released and bigger budgeted Land of the Dead.
For an NTSC transfer the picture quality on this 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced rendering is generally very sharp.
There is only some mild softness and light grain intruding every now and again.
Shadow detail clarity is for the most part excellent, while black and contrast levels are spot on.
Film to video artefacts are kept to a minimum. I noticed an odd jagged-pixelization effect on a red folder at 20:39 and on the left of the computer monitor at 55:05 and a few obvious instances of edge enhancement around the heads and shoulders of actors (23:32 for example).
Although not the fault of the transfer, focus is a regular problem like when characters move away from the camera (26:18) or towards it (27:33).
Colours are vivid, but prone to oversaturation, especially blood which is spattered around in generous amounts. It doesn’t help that nearly all the action takes place under bright lights and the vital fluid takes on a sickly orange hue. Red also tends to bleed, like on the folder (20:39) and at 75:29 on the stripes on the Russian officer’s jacket.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 surround mix is loud and aggressive and makes the most of front speaker output. The eerily dramatic score by Chris Anderson is a constant presence, but isn’t wisely used to propel the narrative or create a sense of urgency. It simply exists to provide shocks or to try and add a creepy feel to certain scenes.
There is some discrete left-to-right channel separation involving voices, ambient sounds and score, but the surrounds are relatively quiet with only some low-end noises that strain to add any audio-spatial depth. The subwoofer is silent.
The awful dialogue (“Honey, love is not sensible”) is unfortunately clearly audible. However, it has a slight echoic quality like it was recorded in a studio, even when actors are speaking their lines outdoors.
|Surround Channel Use|
One drawback of DVD is that you sometimes get to meet the people behind some truly awful movies. The Directors (yes, it took two of them to make this mess) James Dudelson and Ana Clavell and key actors talk about the film as if they made a masterpiece. It’s like watching a wake where the participants are blissfully unaware that they’re at a funeral.
Oh my God! Andreas van Ray (Dr Heller) actually speaks like that in real life.
A series of 40 high-quality publicity and behind-the-scenes stills.
Inn of the Damned
Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Perhaps a blessing, in comparison to the Region 1 edition our version misses out on:
• An audio commentary with Directors James Dudelson and Ana Clavell and Cinematographer James LeGoy
There’s also a Region 0 (UK) release by a company called Freemantle. It has the same aspect ratio, 16x9 enhancement and Dolby 2.0 surround mix, but contains no bonus features
DOTD: 2C is a truly dreadful misfire of a film that fails miserably in trying to live up to the brilliantly conceived, docu-mythic zombie legacy left by Romero’s Dead trilogy.
Recommended for zombie film completists and/or masochists only.
|DVD||Yamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output|
|Display||Yamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||get a marshall stack, and crank it up.|
|Speakers||2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.|