Day of the Dead 2: Contagium

Synopsis: Pennsylvania, 1968: At the Ravenside Military Installation, something has gone horribly wrong. A replicating virus has been discovered that causes the dead to rise and feed upon the flesh of the living. As the carnage escalates, a top-secret attack is ordered. The army thought they had the outbreak contained. They were wrong.

Thirty-seven years later, the site of the original outbreak is now a psychiatric hospital. But when a strange canister is unearthed by a group of patients the virus is again unleashed. The contagion is now spreading. And this time, the horror – and the ferocious hunger – cannot be stopped. Joseph Marino, John F. Henry III and Jackeline Olivier star on this non-stop splatter-fest from the producers of HORROR 101 and MUSEUM OF THE DEAD.

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Day of the Dead 2: Contagium 4.5

eyelights: its attempt at tying into its source material.
eyesores: its inability to tie into its source material. its shoddy performances. its poor storytelling. its crummy zombie make-up.

“Funny, I feel hungry.”

God… sometimes I wonder what compels people to rip off others’ works. Is it merely misguided fandom? Or is it a cheap way to ride the coattails of someone else’s success – for lack of having the talent and/or exposure to manifest your own? Whatever the reason may be, it does no service to either the original artist or the counterfeiter.

No one wins.

‘Day of the Dead 2: Contagium’ is a straight-to-video, low budget motion picture that was released in 2005 and soon forgotten. It’s a picture that attempts to provide an origin to the zombie plague of ‘Night of the Living Dead‘. Its title piggy-backs on Romero’s oeuvre, despite having no relation whatsoever with the original ‘Day of the Dead‘.

As a major fan of George Romero’s zombie pictures, I got into the habit of grabbing hold of anything even remotely related to them. This includes the many home video versions of the originals, the remakes and even the oddball releases. So, even though I knew ‘Day of the Dead 2’ was in no way related, curiosity dictated that I pick it up.

Sigh… it was all that I’d read it would be.

The bulk of the film takes place at the Ravenside Memorial Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Pennsylvania, over the course of five days. The basic plot is that a group of patients finds a thermos containing a vial that is the source of a zombie outbreak back in 1968. As can be expected, they bring it back and unleash a virus in the hospital.

It’s basically 93 minutes of crummy melodrama, corny humour, grating contrivances, amateurish performances and lackluster “special” effects. And the payoff, the third act’s zombie rampage, is so poorly-conceived that it can’t possibly make up for all the wasted time; even watching it separately, without the rest, would prove unsatisfying.

It’s a 93-minute snoozefest that feels twice as long.

Zzzzzzzzzzz….

To make matters worse, it’s padded with a 10-minute prologue on top of that. Set at Ravenside Military Installation in 1968, it shows us how the mysterious vial found itself lost in the woods for decades after having been smuggled into the country by a Russian defector. It’s a few frenetic minutes of zombies and soldiers killing everyone.

But done on the cheap. And poorly.

It sucks.

Its only raison d’être is to tie the main picture to the Romero zombie mythos; though it references the 1968 outbreak, the main part isn’t especially clear about its connection. So the prologue makes the effort of latching onto ‘Night of the Living Dead’ – if by effort, one means an undignified bellyflop into the pool instead of gracefully diving in.

My favourite part of it is that the filmmakers felt the need to hammer the audience over the head with heavy-handed exposition by bringing in the son of a soldier involved in the original operation to explain the situation to the audience patients. How this loser got a hold of all this classified information, in infinite detail, is beyond all belief.

As is most of the picture’s limited plot: How could the guy get into the facility, which had been quarantined by Doctor Heller? Why are the infected patients seeing floating lights at night? Why are some of them mutating much faster than their friends, who were exposed at the same time? And, ultimately, why are they mutants, not proper zombies?

Who the !@#$ knows.

Welcome to the “Day of the Braindead”.

‘Day of the Dead 2: Contagium’ isn’t the worst film I’ve seen, for sure, but it’s not good. Not good at all. That it has the audacity to tie itself to a series of pictures that, even at their lowest, were far superior to its highlights, only makes me want to dislike it more. But, ultimately, it’s just an empty vehicle for over 100 minutes of sheer boredom.

It’s not even worth the effort of despising it.

‘Contagium’ is best left ignored.

Story: 4.5
Acting: 4.5
Production: 6.0

Chills: 2.0
Violence: 3.0
Gore: 4.0

Date of viewing: September 17, 2017

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