In defense of Miner’s Day of the Dead, or learning to grow as a horror fan…

In defense of Miner’s Day of the Dead, or learning to grow as a horror fan…

Anyone who’s been online for any length of time or is dorky enough to religiously watch G4 is probably aware of the humorous adage of Godwin’s Law. A concept explicitly stating that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” Despite being coined during the infancy of the Internet, this still holds true today, as anyone with a few thousand posts on any message board can attest. A debacle that can even occur on otherwise civilized horror forums.

Most visiting this site already know this; the hordes of horror fandom are by nature extremely passionate about the genre and are willing to defend their opinions to the bitter conclusion. Of course, I’m amongst the collective or else I wouldn’t be writing about this stuff on a regular basis. We love to bemoan all sorts of perceived wrongs in our beloved genre. Everything from that lovable Uwe Boll pissing on the altar of all that is cinematically sacred to horror arriving onto DVD scissored by censors. Though if there’s one thing that sets off thermonuclear bitchfests that reverberate throughout the Interwebs–it’s remakes of classic horror. I’m personally guilty of flying off the handle at whiffs of revisions to Dario Argento’s Suspiria. It’s a natural reaction as horror films are carried off by the fans long after the mainstream ticket sales have resulted in Scorsese’s next project’s catering budget. We are the ones that remember names like Ruggero Deodato, pee a little upon hearing Angus Scrimm is making another convention appearance, and immediately recall Phenomena over naughty womanly bits when someone mentions Jennifer Connelly.

But there’s this one remake that gives horror fans immediate head trauma by its mere mention. The scant few that like it have only spoken in hushed whisper for fear of castration by their brethren. It’s Steve Miner’s Day of the Dead (Day of the Dead: The Need to Feed) from 2008. It’s a feature birthed into a perfect storm. There were some rumblings early on that the film was going theatrical like Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. That didn’t happen, so First Run Features picked it up for direct-to-DVD distribution and packed it into retail and rental shops with unusual zeal. Copies clogged Blockbusters and Wal Marts nationwide. There’s currently fourty-nine new and used copies on Amazon’s Marketplace. Also, for some unknown reason, First Run has produced three different DVD covers since its release two years ago. This rampant market saturation resulted in Miner’s film making strange bedfellows.

More casual horror fans, most likely expecting something of the same production value of the aforementioned Dawn remake, saw Day and tore it asunder. The main beef being the connections to George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead with many opinions solely grounded in comparisons to the 1985 classic. I’ve even read comments from people who otherwise wouldn’t have minded the film, but loathe it merely because of its title.

Now before I get hate mail saying I’m putting down fellow horror fans, I’m not and not trying to excuse Miner’s remake, but let’s cut the bullshit. Stop being a whiny bitch and sucking at the tit of Romero’s contributions to the genre. And that’s not to diminish the large rim-spectacled filmmaker’s profound impact on zombiedom. Just reducing one’s opinion of a film that is obviously a quasi-remake in the loosest terms possible to its title and desperate straw grabs at comparison is petty. You might as well hate F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu for being old and Romero’s own Dawn of the Dead for having undead make-up that doesn’t convince anyone. That’s just as shallow. Hurling around sediments like “worst zombie movie ever” and condemning Day for what it’s supposedly done to Romero’s work is annoyingly shortsighted. Taking a critical eye to a given horror film’s unique attributes comes with time, if one sticks with the genre long enough, but tossing out such garbage exhibits nothing but unimpressive slavish devotion that becomes old hat once one gets beyond the silly notion that horror cinema somehow has commandments held by a bearded Bruce Campbell and scribed by the ironclad words of the creator of flesheating dead.

Is Romero’s Day of the Dead superior? Shit yeah. Does Miner’s “remake” have problems? Shit yeah. Getting past the baggage, Day is a decent beer ‘n corn chips zombie programmer that’s received way more flack than even John Russo’s 1999 unmitigated ruination of Night of the Living Dead (1968) or the disastrous Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005). Avoiding knee-jerk reactions is part of learning to grow as a horror fan and singling out Day of the Dead ’08 goes to show how an undeserving scapegoat can be created for such a brand of juvenile hatred. Perhaps we should have a “Miner’s Law” for the horror genre stating “As remakes hit less seasoned perspectives, the probability of a comparison involving far overblown reaction or George Lucas raping childhoods approaches 1.

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One Response to “In defense of Miner’s Day of the Dead, or learning to grow as a horror fan…”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I learned long ago to just let any form of art excist and take it for what it is. If I like it, I like it. If I don’t I don’t. And no matter how much protesting and name calling I might do, it won’t change the way others feel about it. Why waste my time condemning, and giving more notice, to something I don’t like. As for Day of the Dead, it was a fun ride and entertaining way to pass 90 minuets.

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