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By Felix Vasquez Jr. | July 13, 2006

When you work at a bar, or in a taxi, one of the rules they explain is that you never talk about politics and religion. When you’re a movie buff there are some things you just don’t talk about with others. Today, in the age of crapdom plaguing our theaters, there are new topics you don’t discuss (Widescreen vs. Fullscreen, subtitles vs. dubs, etc.).

Don’t talk about remakes.

Mainly because people take movies very seriously, including I. Sure, some of you are saying “It’s just a damn movie”, but there are plenty of movie buffs who lead fulfilling lives yet still defend and argue movies like the world is at stake. It’s fandom pure and simple. But don’t ever discuss remakes these days with the hardcore buffs. Some are so utterly in love with films they oppose remakes, and some are more content to accept them, and this invites an endless argument.

Don’t ever talk about the “Dead” series.

Well, mainly, don’t ever debate the logic and physics behind the “Dead” series. This is due mostly to the fact that Romero fans acknowledge the logic, but still just enjoy the films, some fans catch the commentary, some say there’s nothing there, and the arguments are purely endless and without gain to anyone. I’ve found myself engaged in long-winded arguments with almost everyone at the mere mention of “Land of the Dead”.

Which brings me to my point.

“Day of the Dead” is being remade. And recently Ving Rhames and Mena Suvari were cast.

I saw “Day of the Dead” for the first time a year ago. I know many people were surprised to discover that, considering I’m a huge movie buff.

My secret that coincides with that fact is that I’m horribly frightened of zombies. I’m serious. As I’ve grown I’ve become much more used to them, and I’m not really as scared as I was when I was a child. Sure, they still scare me, I still have nightmares with them, and I still can’t look at Flyboy from “Dawn”.

Zombies have been the specters of childhood fears, and of all the irrational fears I have, zombies have been the most intense. As a child I could never watch a film involving zombies, even in comedic form, and if I mustered the guts to do so, I’d find it hard to sleep for at least three weeks.

My first experience with “Day of the Dead” was a harrowing one for me, one that I’m not ashamed to admit. I’d seen all of the dead films including the remakes and that incredibly awful “Day of the Dead: Contagium”, and “Day” was one I avoided, mainly because when I was a kid, I saw the scene where the zombies finally break into the bunker and are slowly being lowered on the elevator platform, and it was an image that permanently burned itself into my brain whether I liked it or not, and it’d constantly re-appear in nightmares.

But I finally mustered up the courage to watch “Day” one night and saw it with my mom. My mom is probably the most hardcore of horror fans I’ve ever known. And I’ve known many. She has a humongous library of horror films, loves everything that comes out, and owns at least four editions of Night of the Living Dead.

Either way, not everyone enjoyed “Day” when it was first released. Up until the release of “Land”, “Day” was considered the weakest entry of the original “Dead” series. Hell, even though it is Romero’s favorite, he wasn’t able to fully develop the film he’d envisioned which was described as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with zombies. “Land” is also a bit of what Romero envisioned.

Upon the first glance of “Day”, you can tell the budget is limited. There’s only one real scene exploring the wasteland that is now Earth, the remaining survivors are desperately looking for survivors to the point where they give themselves away by screaming over a megaphone for any survivors, which unleashes a humongous crowd of the walking dead to their presence.

Humanity is gone. The Earth is dead. And there’s no hope. They’re reminded of this every time they land at the bunker to see the dead at the gates trying to reach for them in the distance. Before landing on the wasteland, the helicopter pilot reminds them, “I’ll give you only twenty minutes, and then I’m taking off without you”. It’s that bad.

I loved “Day”, I loved everything about it. Romero took advantage of the very limited budget and used that as a platform to explore characterization, and motive.

And then there’s Bub. Bub has to be one of my favorite horror film characters of all time, and boy did he make up for the lack of zombie carnage that didn’t appear until the last fifteen minutes.

“Day” has grown over time and is now considered a very strong, and well structured sequel, and “Land” has the place as the weakest installment. And now it’s being remade.

I’m perplexed and obviously annoyed since “Day” is such a well written masterpiece of zombie filmmaking, and one can only imagine what “Day” will be. I can only picture it as the equivalent to “Resident Evil” with Suvari in place of Jovovovovich.

“Dawn” was entertaining with diminishing returns upon repeated viewings, it was basically the dumber cousin to the original, and if its any indication, we’ll see more of that with “Day”.

“Day” has a lot going for it. Bub, Captain Rhodes, a murky set piece, a wonderful story, and an arguably happy ending that’s bound to appeal to the studios. But, reports of the filming has indicated that they’re not going with the exact plot of “Day”, yet instead will revolve around a completely different plot.

But, if the studios hope to garner interest to the horror fans, they’d be wise to use the original script Romero had envisioned before unable to fulfill it due to budget constraints, it’s really the only way they can garner interest. But these days with the complacency of many fans, they’ll garner interest either way, even if it’s a two hour music video starring zombies.

Much like “Dawn” which sported two really dumb musical montages; not hard to believe when its director is a music video director. Will “Day: Extreme” even be remotely as intelligent or insightful as “Day” was? Will we see the exact same plot with different actors, will the creators feel inclined to provide a less intellectually stimulating, more video game-ish “Day” or will it just be named “Day of the Dead” and not just resemble the original product at all?

Upon the success of “Dawn” I remember reading plans for the “Day” remake discussing something along the lines of “Return of the Living Dead 2” in which kids stumble on a radioactive gas which begins turning people into zombies thus bursting a bonafide zombie apocalypse on the world.

But rule one is to make as much money as possible, and intelligent and insightful just don’t hack it in the box office. So what will we be resorted to? More running zombies? The absence of feeding scenes which we saw in “Dawn”? Is Rhames set to be a Bub replacement? Worst of all, is Nick Cannon, who is set to co-star, going to be the token ethnic wise a*s character much like Mike Epps in “Resident Evil”?

Worst of all, will the remake attempt to re-write what Romero already started? Surely, the debates will become ever so endless if the film is that ambitious. Romero attempted to dissect his own concepts with “”Day” and left many theories wide open for interpretation.

Will “”Day” be so ambitious to write its own rules, or will it simply be another “”Resident Evil”? I’m voting for the latter. With “”Dawn”, Snyder didn’t really seek to re-write the rules for the walking dead, he really just catered their instincts to convenience of the plot. They don’t eat animals, because it’s an excuse to introduce the stupid dog. They run really fast on victims, but can’t catch up to our heroes. They howl and attack others, while when confronted with the victims on the stairs they creep on them with enough time for them to fire. Plot holes, inconsistencies, and two musical montages. “”Dawn” was pretty stupid. Romero’s “”Dawn” was the complete opposite.

So, I’m worried to what will occur. Will it be travesty or triumph?

I’m more frightened to think what will become of “Day” than of zombies.

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  1. Noah Runzo says:

    This is just retarted…horrible.. wow. how DUMB is hollywood now?

  2. Lillian Patterson says:

    I loved CJ, Sarah Polley, and the social commentary on fatherhood/families that ran through the movie. And the first fifteen minutes were superb. I don’t think Dawn is as bad as most horror fans seem to think it is. Though I think the filmmakers need to be placed under the same “not allowed to talk” order that I proposed for Eli Roth.

    “Day of the Dead: Extreme”? Are you kidding me? That sounds like the title of a video game or a DTV horror sequel. They’re not really using that title are they?

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one who loved “Day” more than the others.

  3. Uncle Happy says:

    i only wish c.j. had survived. i still say he was the only really good thing about the dawn remake. as far as this remake, i feel like you. remakes are generally s**t, so my expectations are low.

  4. Felix Vasquez Jr. says:

    I enjoyed Anna’s character, and I loved CJ. I’m soft on the remake because of the first fifteen minutes, and Sarah Polley.

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