Director – George A. Romero
Cast – Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy, Anthony Dileo Jr., Richard Liberty, Sherman Howard, Gary Howard Klar, Ralph Marrero, John Amplas
Release Year – 1985
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I cannot believe that I let so much time pass since the last time I viewed this film. Back in 1985 Day of the Dead completed George A. Romero’s trilogy(at the time) that he started 17 years prior with Night of the Living Dead in 1968, and Dawn of the Dead in 1978. Quite possibly the most iconic trilogy in horror lore, each one of these films is a great watch and Day of the Dead proved to be a sufficient closer to this saga. This trilogy has been somewhat nullified(not in my mind at least) with George A. Romero’s recent additions Land of the Dead in 2005, Diary of the Dead in 2007, and Survival of the Dead in 2009. Nonetheless Romero’s original trilogy will have a special place in the heart of every horror fan. Trust me, with this film’s epic climax, George A. Romero made sure we’d never forget this film.
In this film the zombies have taken over the United States, and a small group of soldiers and scientists are forced to reside in an underground bunker until their scientific research is complete. The scientists are working on a cure for the dead, and believe they are closing in on a way of understanding the mentality of the zombies, which would hopefully allow the zombies to be manipulated into not killing the living. The soldiers in the underground base are fed up with the fact that many of them are dying to support the scientists who stay tucked away in their lab, and tempers flare. The soldiers soon lose faith in the scientists, and the groups are forced to wage war with each other while an oncoming zombie invasion threatens their entire existence.
I really liked this film, and found it to be much different than Romero’s two previous works. His two previous works had a lot of zombie action, and this film is not about that. Day of the Dead draws more into the psyche of the zombies, and of the humans as well. In this film we are introduced to the iconic Romero character “Bub”, a zombie in Logan(Richard Liberty)’s lab that is showing remarkable results as part of their experiment. This is where George Romero’s writing comes into play as we see this zombie begin to show true innocent emotion while the two groups of survivors are going at it with violent outcomes. Subliminal messaging perhaps? Humans can be just as destructive as those we want to destroy? Seems like it, and I salute you Mr. Romero!
The direction for this film is well done, and surprisingly this film paces very well for what some may consider to be a “boring” film compared to the two previous installments to this franchise. While we are not constantly bombarded with zombie action, George Romero manages to engage the viewer with the same thoughts as the scientists in this film. You will ask yourself “Is it possible for the zombies to be rehabilitated?” and this method of engaging the audience is executed very well, and is what I believe saved this film. Now don’t get me wrong about the gore and zombie action, George A. Romero is a man of gory tastes, and he never lets down! We get moderate amounts of zombie carnage throughout the film until this film’s climax, which is possibly the best climax to any of Romero’s films. Thankfully, Mr. Romero once again brought on legendary special effects maestro Tom Savini to handle this film’s live action effects, and Mr. Savini proves to us that it isn’t just George Romero who lives up to his name. I personally like that this film went in the direction of leaving us mentally engaged for most of the film and then finally unloading the goods in his usual iconic fashion. Love it.
I have no major complaints for this film, just don’t go in expecting the best acting. If you know Romero, you know he was never big on using big named actors in his film, so watch it for what it is.
Overall, this is an awesome film that is sure to please zombie fans and delivers unimaginable gore at just the right moment. Highly recommended.