Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005) (part 5 of 6)
Back in the cubicle ward, our gang of crazies are acting paranoid, and gradually piecing things together. They can’t sleep, they don’t bleed, their skin’s peeling, Geeky Guy’s fingernail just came off… Yep, no doubt about it, it’s pinkeye.
Incidentally, this is the scene where we first learn that Geeky Guy’s name is “Boris”. Over an hour into the movie, ladies and gentlemen!
So they’re all worried about someone discovering their condition, and the government making them into science projects. Because they’ve done such a great job of hiding it so far.
Brooklynite snaps at Geeky Guy, so Geek proceeds to go to his bed, lift up his pillow, take out a handful of change, and hand it to Brooklynite. He says, “Have my money.” This is the first and last time this bit of character business will ever be mentioned, so, for the ninth time, WTF? I’d make this a drinking game, but that would just encourage people to irresponsibly watch this film.
However, we do get one useful bit of information here: Brooklynite lets it slip that he’s being treated for a bad temper. You know, I’m actually kind of glad for the clunky exposition. It’s the only way to make any sense out of anything that goes on in this movie.
Isaac then utters the film’s only legitimately funny line. He tells the two guys that “if you two start fighting, we’ll all end up black and blue.” I’m not sure if this was deliberate irony or not, but before we can ponder that, everyone gets a pounding psychic headache. Unfortunately, this actually signifies nothing. I’m also pretty sure this is the point in my notes where I jotted down MOVIE MAKES NO SENSE. I may also have slammed my head against my desk a few times. I can’t recall.
Vaguely Gay Guy is still trying to get in to see Emma, so he slips out of a window under the cover of daylight. And it seems he’s just in time to spy on Dr. Malkovich looking at Jerk Warden, who’s seen better days.
In fact, Jerk Warden has turned into some sort of misshapen red mutant monster. It’s an elaborate prosthetic job that sadly becomes more and more obvious every time we see him.
Malkovich is now monlogueing about what’s happening, saying that the viral infection must differ from individual to individual—i.e., we can have it do whatever we want to whomever we want at all times.
He decides that Jerk Warden is “vegetative” (funny, he looks kind of meaty to me), and then takes out the key that was in the lockbox with General Teller’s ID. He says, “To cure or not to cure you, [Jerk Warden]. Imagine the power this little key holds.” Of course, Malkovich decides to go for the “not to cure you” option.
So inevitably, Jerk Warden snaps awake and eats him. Unconvincingly.
Vaguely Gay Guy peeps in on this, and at the same moment, all his psychic friends snap to attention. Meanwhile (there’s so much parallel action here, I’m not entirely sure it’s all happening in the same movie), Goth Girl has freed Emma from her cell, and is now dragging Emma down a hallway.
Emma breaks loose, running into Isaac, just as he and his friends rush the other way. This really upsets Goth Girl, who instantly finds a way to make herself the film’s most lovable character: she shoots Isaac in the chest. He falls to the ground, and my spirits rise.
Before we can take in the beauty of this, Brooklynite punches out Goth Girl. And then, if you can believe it, Isaac starts on another voiceover lecture. Apparently, not even death can stop this bastard’s voiceovers.
This lecture is something about the act of dying, and how we don’t think about it. Actually, I’ve been thinking about his death for quite some time. It keeps me warm at night. Alas, as we already know, Isaac is one of the undead, so he gets back up, leaving my hopes on the floor.
Two really stupid aides notice that there’s some kind of carnage in Jerk Warden’s room. As you’d expect, his ropy arm shoots out of the window and decapitates one of the guards, causing the other to scream like an injured penguin. At least, I assume that’s what injured penguins sound like. I haven’t done too much research on the topic.
The guy runs away in a really spazzy way, rushing past Vicky the Crack Whore and a random nurse attending to her. Meanwhile, Jerk Warden throws open his door and drags the corpse of the other guy inside. So Random Nurse checks to see what the problem is, leaving Vicky to collapse. I’m glad we’re keeping track of what happens to this character.
The whole zombie gang, sans Vaguely Gay Guy, are now in the restroom. They suddenly notice they’ve each got purple marks on their chests. Because, you know, we didn’t already get that they’re crazy proto-zombies.
Geeky Guy references yet another bad movie that doesn’t exist, and look, people, you don’t have to pay money to reference a film. It’s fair use.
Isaac then comes to the conclusion that they’re all dead. Brooklynite tells him to shut the hell up, but a voice says, “He’s right, you are dead.”
Lo and behold, it’s the internet guy. You know, Jerry De Luca, the guy in that blurry video message? The character is played by Kevin Westmore, who apparently is also a college professor and stand-up comedian, despite looking like he was hired right off the floor of the San Diego Comicon.
And his performance doesn’t exactly reek of professionalism, either: he puts really weird emphases on some of his lines. But then again, maybe everyone in the cast was instructed to act like that.
It’s a weird thing about the acting in the movie—it’s not even consistently wooden, or consistently over-the-top. Instead, every performance and line reading is completely off key in its own special way. It’s either too high or too low, but it’s always just slightly wrong.
Jerry De Luca lectures the gang on what they’ve contracted: a “recombinant virus” that restructures your DNA, blah blah blah. It can turn you into a superhero or a monster, and I think this bit may actually be stolen from the Wild Cards short story anthologies.
He says they’re still mutating, and that “this could be the beginning of the ultimate contagium!” Hey, our title! Also, the American Heritage Dictionary tells me that “contagium” is defined as “the direct cause, as a virus, of an infectious disease.” In other words, it’s the beginning of the ultimate cause of something.
Brooklynite knocks Jerry against a wall to coerce him into… delivering more exposition, it seems.
Cut away for a brief moment to follow Vicky the Crack Whore as she wanders in a stupor. She stumbles into a room where drugs are kept in locked cabinets, so she yells out, “The candy store!” She then fumbles around for a solid minute trying to open padlocks, and that’s the whole scene. Rest assured, we’ll be coming back to her. Frequently.
Outside, the security guards (or possibly the Reno Sheriff’s Department) are discussing strategy. They consider calling in the police, but no. A patient gone haywire falls under their jurisdiction, it seems. Hey, say what you will about rent-a-cops—these guys sure are dedicated.
Vaguely Gay Guy goes into Jerk Warden’s quarters and finds Malkovich all dead and bloodied, and wearing the most obvious fake arm outside of a school play.
Malkovich’s missing hand has been thrown over by the door, and Vaguely Gay Guy conveniently finds that key in its foam-rubber-y palm. He picks up the hand itself and has what I infer to be a temptation to eat it. And then it turns out Jerk Warden has been crouching behind the doorway this whole time, gnawing on Malkovich’s intestines.
He attacks Vaguely Gay Guy, but quickly recognizes that VGG is already a zombie. Also, the more you see Jerk Warden in his “monster” state, the more obvious the prosthetics are, particularly in the way they seem to hang off the actor’s body.
Meanwhile, Jerry De Luca has accompanied the crazies into the cubicle ward, where he continues his story. Back in the ’60s, he explains, a Soviet spy plane crashed in the desert (possibly near New Mexico, though they don’t say). The debris and the pilot were brought to Ravenside.
Flash back to the Soviet pilot being interrogated, with the mysterious cylinder thingies laid out in front of him. And, goddammit, why does almost every character in this movie have a face you instantly want to punch?
The Soviet pilot insists that the weird cylinders aren’t Soviet, but “American made”, and he repeats this over and over. I think they’re implying that these are alien objects that fell to Earth, but for the life of me, I can’t work out why aliens would want to make us into superzombies with inconsistent abilities.
His interrogators leave momentarily. And just to confirm that, like everyone else, the Russian pilot is an incompetent smeghead, he takes one of the cylinders and fools around with it, causing it to open and release the purple pixie dust.
“Somehow, the vial opened,” Jerry informs us without even the smallest particle of irony. To cap this off, the Russian stupidly tries to rearrange the cylinders to make everything look normal before his interrogators come back in. Either this was before the invention of one-way mirrors, or the military guys are just humoring him.
While Jerry continues his story, there are random close-ups of the zombie pack eyeing him hungrily. He’s got a nice strong head wound, apparently from being knocked around by Brooklynite in the restroom, and he’s sensibly decided to seek no medical attention for this.
Back in the flashback, Soviet Pilot goes through the whole “didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, had no vital signs, etc.” zombification bit, but acts normally. At least until a visiting aide shows him his new tattoo, which is a freshly bloody image of a naked woman.
The Russian goes berserk and eats the guy’s forearm, and I’m guessing the situation just deteriorated from there. By this point in the story, Geeky Guy is just barely restraining himself from attacking Jerry. And here, I can’t help but notice Geeky Guy’s strong resemblance to the late stand-up comic Richard Jeni, though I won’t mention this further, so as not to dishonor Richard’s memory.
The flashback shows more chaos at the hospital, and Jerry says that while people exposed to the gas can still think and reason, the people they infect are just ravenous monsters.
Jerry finally gets to the question of how the outbreak was stopped, and he all-too-gleefully starts to explain that the solution was really quite simple. Unfortunately, before he can get to it, Geeky Guy snaps and goes after Jerry’s head wound.
Brooklynite and Black Guy dive on the man too, and the feast begins, while Emma and Isaac restrain themselves and back away. The two of them lock themselves in an office. And here’s where Emma reveals that she’s pregnant, and Isaac says it must be the contagium. Or, the midichlorians. One of those. At least it’s not Jerk Warden’s baby.