Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005) (part 3 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.

Meanwhile, Vaguely Gay Guy emerges from behind a door marked “Psychiatric Evaluation”. He has a really stupid grin on his face. There’s actually a reason for this, but some things you can’t defend with story logic. Behind that door (and I can’t believe it took me forever to figure this out), Isaac and Emma are making out, and getting weepy over his imminent departure. You can pretty much work out how this scene goes.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

“I’m an excellent psychiatrist, I must say.”

Thankfully, Goth Girl rats them out, telling the staff that Isaac and Emma are planning to have sex. This is forbidden according to the hospital rules (which I guess makes some sense), so Jerk Warden gets called in to stop the learning of unlawful carnal knowledge.

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By the time Jerk Warden gets there, Isaac and Emma are already outside the door engaging in a particularly soppy goodbye kiss. Jerk Warden starts manhandling Isaac, but Vaguely Gay Guy breaks it up, which requires him to act intimidating. No, really.

Eventually, both Emma and Goth Girl get taken away. There’s really nothing interesting about this scene at all, but it gets so much screen time that I’d be negligent if I didn’t cover it.

In the midst of all this, Brooklynite is in the restroom, still trying to open the thermos. Outside, Geeky Guy and Black Guy applaud Isaac for his hypothetical booty call, and then notice the thermos is missing. They run into the restroom to get it.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

Hey, you fall in or what?

As they struggle to take the thermos away from Brooklynite, he finally manages to unscrew the top (which is so not rusted or anything of the sort). He pulls out the cylinder thingie.

Emma conveniently runs in, having given Jerk Warden the slip. But just then, Jerk Warden hits a fire alarm, and a startled Brooklynite drops the cylinder on the ground.

And now things gets weird. As the gang watches, the cylinder opens up in a fanlike pattern, and starts emitting purple gas, along with glowing spikey things that look a bit like the original Everlasting Gobstoppers. I’m sure you can guess that this is the beginning of a good old-fashioned zombie plague, but the sparkliness earns this the title of WTF? #4.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

Apparently, this is what happens when you taunt Happy Fun Ball.

The cylinder closes back up—presumably, to save the filmmakers the trouble of having to make a different prop. Emma senses danger in this, and ushers Isaac out of the restroom. Unfortunately, they’ve already inhaled the crazy purple knockout gas.

They’re cornered by Jerk Warden and the, er, sinister Dr. Heller, a harsh John Malkovich lookalike with a bow tie and a stupid accent. Everyone gets ordered back to their quarters, but Emma puts up a big fight about leaving Isaac, and gets dragged off. Babe, he’s so not worth it.

Dr. Malkovich calls Vaguely Gay Guy into his office, allegedly to discipline him for allowing the visitation between Emma and Isaac. But in reality, he just wants to go over the good doctor’s unorthodox methods. He works directly with the patients! He lets them break the rules! He’s a maverick! He’s a loose cannon! But he gets results! Maybe. Of course, Malkovich is the one sending them on park cleanup duty, so he’s one to talk.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

I’m not even trying to find stupid pictures. I just hit pause and get shots like this.

There’s a whole undertone in this movie, that this is supposed to be some horribly corrupt and abusive facility with staff who exploit the patients (except for Vaguely Gay Guy and Cute Nurse). It never amounts to much, and it’s really hard to take Dr. Malkovich seriously as a heavy; he has a high quivery voice that sounds like a Eurotrash version of Truman Capote, and a halting delivery reminiscent of Criswell.

So, I think it should be obvious by this point in the recap that most of the roles are being filled by people with no professional training or experience. I suppose Dean Lerner is only absent from the film due to a scheduling conflict.

That’s all there is to this scene, except Malkovich does deliver the curious line, “Even the fastest deer will get hit by a car when it has to cross the roads too many times.” And I think I just felt the ghost of Ed Wood himself pass through the room.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

“Is it safe?”

Night night, it’s time for bye-byes, it’s been a great day, thanks a heap. As lights go out across the facility, everyone exposed to the Purple Haze has a bad fake cough.

Vaguely Gay Guy is on his computer, browsing the web, and… oh, dear. I’m fairly sure the web browser he’s using is just a PowerPoint presentation, and worse, his computer makes sci-fi beeping noises whenever he clicks on anything.

He finds Jerry De Luca’s “alien information page”, and it’s the sort of rudimentary hyperlink list you used to see everywhere back in 1996, complete with a light gray background. I’m guessing that Jerry De Luca is related in some way to the “De Luca, Dale” stamped on the thermos, but the movie never says as much, and it never becomes important anyway.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

The wonders of the Information Superhighway!

Browsing through the website’s guestbook (that’s WTF? #5), Vaguely Gay Guy comes across a reference to Ravenside. But then Cute Nurse does the classic “sneak up behind” trick while he’s reading. She oh-so-subtly asks him out on a date, but he’s distracted, and their interaction ends inconclusively. I have a feeling a lot of her flirtations with him have ended inconclusively.

After she leaves, he sends Jerry an e-mail telling him he’s found a mysterious cylinder “with similar inscriptions”. To what? We never find out. He also makes sure to include his real name and his current location. So I figure the Men in Black should be nuking the hospital within the hour.

WTF? #6 arrives as Black Guy hits the hay. The lights go out, and Isaac puts on a night light that projects little star constellations on the ceiling. Suddenly, the glowing gobstoppers that came out of the canister return, and start floating around people’s heads.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

Tinkerbell wants your brains!

For a minute, it looks like a dream sequence or hallucination, but the shiny lights creep up on people who have their eyes closed. So I’m forced to conclude that the horrible zombie plague is in fact being spread by magic space fairies. They even make little futuristic “whoosh” noises as they fly around. Swear to God.

The little dots of light eventually enter the foreheads of everyone exposed to the gas, i.e. our protagonists. This should be fun.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

See? See? I’m not making this up! This is actually what happens!

Cut to “Four Days Ago”. As I said, the first time I watched this film, I missed the “Five Days Ago” caption after the opening titles, so this completely threw me off. I thought for a while we were having an extended flashback sequence, when in reality this is the day after the previous scene. This narrative device is apparently meant to build up to the titular “Day of the Dead”, and hence justify having the title in the first place. But I’m guessing the filmmakers thought of this at the last minute, because it doesn’t map to the story structure at all.

Vaguely Gay Guy is awakened by a disturbance in the ward. It turns out Black Guy is having a seizure. I’m not sure if he was epileptic from the start, or if this is due to the fairy dust.

After Black Guy gets hauled away, the guys in the ward notice that their skin is peeling, and that their eyes have dilated. You’d think the doctor in the group would decide this warranted medical attention, but after picking at the excess skin and wondering just what they were exposed to, they all decide to go about their day like nothing happened.

Geeky Guy and Brooklynite go off for breakfast, with the former being hungry for some “really greasy sausages.” I hope that’s not a metaphor for cannibalism.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

“That’s the last time I’m going to that tanning salon!”

Meanwhile, Emma is being examined, and her doctor takes absolutely no notice of her peeling flesh and blacker-than-black eyes. Instead, he tells her to wait as he nips out for undefined reasons. I was tempted to think the makeup department made the zombifying effect much more obvious than it was supposed to be in the script, but then I remembered that the writer is sitting in the co-director’s chair. So it really is just a case of a character being a total idiot.

Cut to generic crazy person behavior in the cafeteria, basically to establish that Geeky Guy and Brooklynite have gone there as planned. And also, that the casting director found a lot of people willing to play mental patients.

Cut back to Emma, as Jerk Warden walks in. He has her medical report, and taunts her with the revelation that both she and Isaac will have to spend a month in solitary and fill out adoption papers. Wait, she’s pregnant? And they can tell that the morning after conception? That’s pretty goddamn astounding.

There’s an explanation of sorts for this phenomenon later, but the hospital’s trained medical professionals (it took a lot of effort for me to type that phrase) really should recognize that this isn’t normal.

But Jerk Warden doesn’t care, and he uses this as an opportunity to try to extort sex from the black-eyed, corpse-pale, rapidly flaking woman lying on the table in front of him. This guy has to be the least ambitious sleazebag of all time. He’s like the lion who only goes after the antelope that’s already dead of natural causes.

Caption contributed by Evan Waters

This just keeps getting more pleasant.

Emma rejects Jerk Warden’s advances in the most direct manner possible: she bites him on the arm. Finally, zombie action!

He slaps her in return, which causes the rest of the infected characters, no matter where they are, to quickly turn their heads in (I’m guessing) her direction. Black Guy, now trapped in a cell, rams his head against the glass in frustration, which causes the others to start twitching their heads.

The whole sympathetic pain thing, potentially interesting as it may be, gives way to gross-out humor as Geeky Guy and Brooklynite throw up what they’ve been eating, much to the non-reaction of the other loonies. I don’t want to mock the mentally ill, but it’s way too obvious that these people aren’t.

Black Guy adds to the gross-out here by picking weird boils off his face. Why does he have boils, and not everyone else? Dunno. Not to be outdone, Brooklynite and the Geek cough up black bile. And then they go back to eating. Yep, WTF moment… #7, I think. And here I am without any hard liquor.

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

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