Day of the Dead (1985)

Posted: February 5, 2013 in Movie Review
Tags: , , ,

Day of the DeadDirected By: George A Romero

Starring: Lori Cardille, Joseph Pilato, Terry Alexander, Jarlath Conroy, Richard Liberty, Sherman Howard, John Amplas, Greg Nicotero

Subgenre: Zombie

Synopsis: A group of scientists hide in an underground military post with a group of unstable soldiers.

Thoughts: The third movie in Romero’s Dead series again builds on the events of the previous movies and we see the world in an even greater state of chaos.  Many consider this to be the end of Romero’s Dead trilogy as it would be another twenty years before Romero would make another.  Although some people site this as their favorite Romero movie, it was one I initially didn’t like all that much.  I do have to admit that it has grown on me over the years and repeated viewings.

I think a lot of that has to do the characters in the Day of the Dead.  To be blunt, all of the soldiers are real assholes and you are really rooting for them to get eaten by the zormbies.  The likable characters are few and far between with one of the most likable being a zombie! Up to this point in his film career, Romero has had a track record of giving us characters we care about, getting the viewer emotionally attached to them.  He really takes a different approach here, giving us some characters we care about, but also giving us more than a couple that are deplorable.

The cast is a mixed bag with some very good performances being overshadowed by the overacting of some of the soldiers.  I thought that the portrayal of the “good guys” was positive, especially John Amplas, Terry Alexander and Jarlath Conroy.  Without a doubt I thought that the best performance was that of Sherman Howard who played “Bub” the zombie.  He was Romero’s first zombie that showed the ability to learn as well as the first to show any emotion.  Bub was the foreshadowing for Romero’s next Dead movie, although twenty years early.  As I mentioned, the soldiers were really over the top, but something tells me that they really wanted to hammer home the fact that they were the bad guys in the movie, not the zombies. 

At this point, Romero’s direction is very familiar to watch and he utilizes the claustrophobic setting for Day of the Dead to help build the tension.  One of the biggest differences between this and Dawn of the Dead isn’t about Romero’s direction, but Savini’s effects.  The improvement of the zombie design is something to behold and Savini also ramps up the gore as well.  The blood is more realistic and the kills are much more graphic.  For the uninitiated, there can be some stomach churning scenes for sure.  I think if these effects had been applied to the story from Dawn, it would have been epic, or even more epic than it was. 

Day of the Dead is worthy of the praise it receives and really is an example of a zombie movie done right.  It’s a sound story with mostly good acting and some mind-blowing practical effects.  If you’ve glossed over this offering from George Romero and Tom Savini, give it a spin, it’s worth your time.


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