Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005) (part 6 of 6)

Note: A few of the images in this recap may be not safe for work, or rather, not safe for lunch. It gets a bit gruesome, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Speak of the devil, Jerk Warden is chasing after Vaguely Gay Guy. This is despite Jerk Warden previously having established that VGG is not-food. Maybe there’s a scene missing, or something. Guards shoot at Jerk Warden, to no effect.

Meanwhile, Goth Girl also comes back to life, which is odd, because I don’t recall her ever dying. Brooklynite just pushed her down, as far as I can remember. Poor thing must be fragile.

And so, Goth Girl eats an aide, and Jerk Warden eats a guard, and I can safely say we’re finally into the gut munching portion of the picture at last. (Curse of the Screaming Dead had one of these, too.) And you would think things pick up a lot from this point on. Shows how much you know.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

On the upside, he can throw a mean forward pass.

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Back in the ward, Vaguely Gay Guy almost joins in on the feast of Jerry, but Isaac and Emma lure him away. They all secure themselves in the office, even though Isaac has to be restrained from going back out for his book. Yep, you sure don’t want to lose that important tome of philosophy.

The three look out at their now-ravenous comrades, then look back at each other. There are some random reaction shots, and suddenly… it’s Two Days Ago! Remember what I said about this being totally arbitrary?

So, while we’re on this supposed break between acts, I’d like to take a moment to observe that as we edge closer to the end, I’ve been writing slower and slower. Maybe this is an illustration of Zeno’s Paradox, but I think it’s more like we’re reaching the point where the absurdities of the film really compound on each other. What started as a slow burn of stupidity has now grown into an inferno.

It’s really quite fascinating; if you wanted to make a boring and incoherent movie, this would be the most calculated and precise way of doing it.

Dr. Malkovich rises and shines, his zombified self looking gap toothed and inbred. So, a mild step down.

Meanwhile, Vaguely Gay Guy, Isaac, and Emma are at VGG’s beeping computer, trying to do some research. But we’ve already had tons of infodumping, and I doubt the cure’s on Wikipedia. They figure out that the ravine where they found the thermos was called the “De Luca Ravine”, and that Dr. Heller knew this, which somehow means he knew about the project all along. Hey, I’ll take whatever exposition I can get.

They’re interrupted when their former friends come out of the shadows, all of them with crazy caveman faces. Looking closely, they even have tiny horns growing out of their heads, which is a pretty new thing, as far as movie zombies go.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

At least he can save a bunch of money on his car insurance.

The zombies try to get their friends to join in on the flesh eating, saying they don’t know what they’re missing. Brooklynite even shoves some kind of internal organ up against the glass, trying to tempt them. Ah, so the zombies are using peer pressure. It’s like a really grotesque afterschool special.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

This thing. It’s what’s for dinner.

Geeky Guy is still Geeky, and leaves a bloody handprint, and draws a heart in blood on the glass for Emma. He was kinda nice to her a couple of times, so I guess there was supposed to be some sort of unrequited love subplot?

The Crack Whore is still in the drug room, when she’s awakened by a loud banging. Look, we know what happens to druggies in horror movies. She’s doomed. We get it. This has to be the most protracted buildup to a hated character’s death since Paul Reiser’s half-hour monologue, which I just now made up.

Vicky poorly hides behind a rack of towels as Zombie Malkovich enters. But then again, his head seems to be permanently tilted up, so she could hide behind a hat rack and still not be seen. He goes to a lockbox, then looks at the stump where his hand with the key used to be. So he just rips the chain off.

But since he’s now a zombie drone, there’s really no point to whatever he was trying to do, so he just heads off in pursuit of some other victim. Ideally, one much taller than he is.

Meanwhile, in the cafeteria, everyone’s a zombie, and they’re enjoying a nice pancreas breakfast while watching TV. There’s even some blood sprayed across the TV screen.

The mass media haven’t picked up on any zombie outbreak yet, so the zombies get bored by the newscast and go back to their meal. But wait—the anchor is “Jim Dudelson”, played by… James Glenn Dudelson! It’s the director! Well, one of them, anyway. So, wait, he actually dared to show his face? Now I’m angry.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

The face of the enemy.

Vaguely Gay Guy, Isaac, and Emma have left the ward. They run into three guards holding back a barricade of the undead. Cute Nurse is there too, still alive, so good.

The zombies break through, and our heroes leave with the Cute Nurse in tow. And I just have to ask, how much danger are the protagonists in? They’re undead, too. They’re on the same team. Granted, the nurse is in trouble, and I like her, but the suspense is diminished because the emphasis isn’t on keeping her alive, but rather on… doing… something. I think.

The guards come along too, but they seem like they’ll only make the situation worse. Having all these random people along is a lot like wearing chum while scuba diving.

As our group of heroes run along, Vaguely Gay Guy asks if Jerry said anything useful before being turned into a buffet. Emma mentions an “antiviral”, which I’m pretty sure was not actually said in that scene.

Vaguely Gay Guy says, “If I had the antiviral for this, I’d keep it under lock and key…” And then he finally remembers the key he found in Jerk Warden’s hand. This may be the first film ever where scenes are edited together in random order.

Cute Nurse recognizes the key, saying it’s the one to a cabinet in the medicine room, AKA Vicky’s Candy Store. As they run in that general direction… Emma’s water breaks. Yeah, not only is she going to have a baby, she’s going to have it right now.

Speaking of Vicky the Crack Whore, she’s rooting through vials in a mysterious cabinet. Suddenly, the Zombie Goth Girl appears, looking radically different from the last time we saw her. I’m not even sure it’s the same actress. I kinda hope it’s not, because then at least somebody from this cast got out alive.

Goth Girl finally gives the audience what they want, throwing Vicky around the room, and then crushing her face. Or rather, just pressing her hands against Vicky’s face really, really hard, leaving red stains. She finishes Vicky off with the quip, “Welcome to my world, slut!” Between this and shooting Isaac, Goth Girl has now become the greatest character in the entire movie. It’s like she’s finally realized how much all of these people suck.

The scene ends on a close-up of Vicky’s hand, clutching a bottle of something.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

She died doing what she loved.

Zombified Geeky Guy, Black Guy, and Brooklynite all gather around Jerk Warden, who’s busy eating someone, and they start pushing him around. The filmmakers have been building Jerk Warden up as some really strong, fearsome super zombie, but these putzes are able to play keep-away with his keys. And I guess he really needs those keys, having so much use for them now that he’s a savage flesh-eating monster.

He snaps and attacks, but they grab him and start removing his prosthetics—er, I mean, they start tearing him limb from limb. So the zombies do feed on each other, despite Jerk Warden not doing so earlier? I was right: the virus is of that special breed that lets the zombies act however the filmmakers need them to act at any given moment.

Suddenly, the trio is distracted by Emma’s psychic birth pangs. Although, earlier we’d been told that the psychic connection had been lost, on account of them going bestial. I’d be okay with this film having plot holes, if it didn’t treat them as a design feature.

Meanwhile, the last surviving guard shoots Zombie Goth Girl in the head. Oh, sweet, homicidal Goth Girl. If shooting Isaac and killing Vicky the Crack Whore doesn’t get you into heaven, I don’t know what will.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

I hate how filmmakers these days always kill off sympathetic characters to raise the stakes.

Finally, our heroes make their way into the medicine room, where Emma is now sporting a full-on baby bump, and ready to kick off the world’s goofiest childbirth scene.

Vaguely Gay Guy roots through the open cabinet that Vicky trashed, and finds a vial of something, but his medical knowledge is fading. I thought the infected were supposed to retain their intelligence and… oh, forget it. Thinking about it is just gonna make it worse.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

Can zombies boil water?

Meanwhile, the rest of the zombies realize at last that there are doors on this place, so they head outside. A standard rampage follows, with one special twist. Remember General Teller? I told you to make a note of him, and you folks do listen, right?

Well, Teller chooses this moment to arrive at the hospital, just in time for the zombies to drag him out of his car and eat him. And I swear, that’s where the Teller subplot ends.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

The payoff!

Black Guy, Brooklynite, and Geeky Guy burst into the medicine room, because no one expects the—you know what? I don’t even have the energy for Python jokes.

They knock Cute Nurse unconscious, but thankfully they leave her be, and continue to harass the non-living people in the room. Brooklynite accosts Emma, asking her, “Why would you wanna harm us like this?” Like what? What is she doing that’s bad?

Geeky Guy has Isaac in a chokehold, which is sort of hilarious, and Black Guy is just kind of bugging Vaguely Gay Guy, without really doing anything to him.

Brooklynite then waves some entrails in Emma’s face. I’m pretty sure pregnant women have those cravings before they go into labor, but thanks for the thought.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

“C’mon, you love English food!”

Cute Nurse wakes up and sees the vial in Vicky’s hand. It’s the cure! I think! Apparently, it has to be injected into the medulla within an hour of exposure. So, not really that useful to our current group, though it might have some useful applications later, but I really don’t care anymore. Either way, Geeky Guy knocks her out again.

Chaos reigns as Geeky Guy gets into a fight with Vaguely Gay Guy, and Brooklynite struggles with Emma, and the baby’s almost coming, and then… wait for it…

Isaac roots around on the floor, and picks up the gun that the now-deceased final guard (I guess he got bit at some point) dropped. He looks around, considering the many potential targets. And now… another internal monologue starts, about not fearing the moment of death, because that’s the moment where you can defeat death through the act of dying itself death death death death.

Having made his decision, Isaac places the gun in his mouth and shoots himself.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

Hey man, don’t Bogart that thing!

Break out the champagne! Throw the streamers and confetti! He’s finally gone! I’d just like to say what a relief it is to… wait a tic, there’s gotta be more left. The cure for the plague, Emma’s zombie baby, the ultimate fate of Cute Nurse? All that’s still gotta be resolved, right?

Cut to “Yesterday”. News reports are heard about the zombie plague, and we pan across the now-empty hospital. Zombies wander the streets, and one of them attacks a news crew. The TV in the cafeteria now shows only static.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

I’ll say this, the filmmakers throw one hell of a wrap party.

And that’s it. That’s the end. I actually sat through all of the end credits, hoping for some kind of Monk’s Reward sequence that would tie up maybe one of the many, many plot threads left dangling. But no. When Isaac shoots himself, the movie stops. It’s a good thing this movie wasn’t released theatrically, because it’s hard to repair a movie screen after someone’s thrown a brick through it.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

“Due to the end of civilization as we know it, the Clamp Cable Network now leaves the air.”

So, the postgame wrap-up. I worked out at some point that Ana Clavell (possibly along with Dudelson) is probably a big fan of David Cronenberg. And I feel almost dirty having something in common with them.

But the plot of this movie, such as it is, reminds me a lot of Cronenberg’s early films, particularly Shivers, wherein a parasite infiltrates an apartment complex and turns everyone into hypersexed savages. Cronenberg presents this in his amoral, nonjudgmental way, making the action frightening and exhilarating. Day of the Dead 2: Contagium seems to be aiming for this same vibe by telling the story from the point of view of the zombies, theoretically making them more sympathetic.

It’s almost a neat idea. I’d love a good Cronenberg pastiche. But of course, the execution fails on every conceivable level. The plot is the sort of thing you can only piece together after the fact, and I say this as someone who understood Exorcist II perfectly, and can’t figure out what everyone else’s problem was.

The characters are almost universally annoying, and it’s hard to even figure out why. They just grate. There’s no tension, no atmosphere, and it almost goes without saying that at pretty much no point does anything scary happen.

I’m not sure this is the worst zombie film I’ve ever seen; there’s plenty of competition in that area, after all. But it’s got good odds.

You could say I appreciate almost every other movie I’ve ever seen that much more for having gazed into this void. There isn’t much left to write other than “this film sucks”, but I will say this: Hopefully, now that I’ve recapped this film in excruciating detail, there’s no reason for anyone reading this to still be curious. Nothing more to see here, move along, people.

Multi-Part Article: Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005)

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