Day of the Dead (1985)
Starring: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joe Pilato
Directed by: George A. Romero
It may be an understatement to say that the modern zombie is one of the most popular genres of all time. Revolutionized by George A. Romero, these flesh-eating creeps now permeate all facets of entertainment and even have become a powerhouse genre that has transcended generations by way of both making political statements and disturbing the fuck out of people. More often than not, you hear about the first two installments of the legendary series, that being Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Lesser known or spoke of is the third (and final) installment, and coincidentally, my all-time favorite horror movie, Day of the Dead. That's the one we'll be talking about today.
In Day of the Dead, a small group of survivors consisting soldiers and scientists have found refuge in underground silo. While trying to research a way to control these monsters, diplomacy between the two sides quickly deteriorates and suddenly, the future of the human race hangs even more in the balance.
While not being the best or most widely known of Romero's various works, this movie definitely kept up very well with the saga. From the very beginning, you get a feeling of hopelessness as now entire cities have become wastelands of the walking dead. There is even less hope of additional survivors than in the first two, which leaves one to feel this may be the end of humanity as we know it.
As the movie progresses, you will quickly find that the two sides of the facility are polarized as much as possible. Captain Rhodes (Joe Pilato) and his men are little more than gun-happy, racist meat-head stereotypes, while the scientists are essentially more docile and grounded.
What makes Day of the Dead such a great cap to the series is the fact that it takes a closer look into the actual existence of the zeds instead of just portraying a group of survivors trying to not get eaten. In the movie, one of the scientists (lovingly nicknamed, "Dr. Frankenstein") spends every waking moment trying to analyze and understand these monsters. Where he gets some of his materials is rather questionable, but at the least he provides some rather interesting information about the creatures and what makes them tick. He even has a prized zombie by the name of "Bub" (a loving nod to the character can be seen in the background of Shaun of the Dead) who demonstrates that even though these are people that have definitely died, they amazingly retain some of their past memories and urges. To an extent, this was touched on in the previous installment, Dawn of the Dead, though in context, it was more along the lines of a societal commentary. In this film, the information plays a bigger part in the story.
The underground silo where this movie takes place was a great location. While the facility is huge (14 miles huge, that is), you can't help but still get the feeling that there's nowhere to run. Everywhere outside the silo is plagued with undead, leaving virtually nowhere for the survivors to escape to.
Another huge part of the greatness of Day of the Dead is the fantastic special effects, including makeup work by none other than the legendary Tom Savini. Compared to the previous films, I found this one to be more quality than quantity, in relation to gore. Sporting one of the best decapitation scenes of all horror films and some great blood work, Day of the Dead isn't a nonstop gore-fest, but you will get more mileage out of the effects than many modern films readily available. Not to mention, there's a rather humorous gag hidden in plain view during the final death scene. If you still don't feel like watching the full movie (or don't give an ass about spoilers), have fun trying to spot it here. Need a clue? Fozzie Bear.
Overall Rating: Bleeding Out