Day of the Dead (1985) – George A. Romero

DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies brings me a Romero zombie classic, the last installment of the original trilogy, Day of the Dead, as I continue to explore the chapter focusing on the walking dead, the zombie.

With makeup effects work by Tom Savini, and a cool score by John Harrison, Romero’s classic is a solid cap to the original trio of films, Night of, Dawn of, and Day of and it was a lot of fun digging into this one, as I hadn’t seen it in decades.

A small group of civilians and military personnel are struggling to survive and get along in an underground base in Florida, while the surface of the planet is now home to the undead, as zombies wander aimlessly, acting and living on instinct.

In the base, a doctor, Logan (Richard Liberty), who verges on the edge of insanity, as he experiments on what makes zombies work, and wonders if they can associate with things from their prior lives and experiences. All of this is personified by Bub (Sherman Howard), who is Logan’s prize, and he almost re-humanizes the zombie.

Sarah (Lori Cardille), the lone woman on the base, and arguably the leader of the civilians, is a target for harassment by the military, especially the base commander, Captain Rhodes (Joseph Pilato), and soon things are going to come to a head.

day-of-the-dead

But things are going to get worse than that when zombies cause problems for them, and the blood, and body parts, begin to flow… Will Sarah and her friends be able to get away from Rhodes, and the seemingly unstoppable shuffling undead horde?

It’s a basic story, but there are some nice character dynamics at work. Just as important, or arguably more so, considering why most people watch zombie movies, there are some fantastic kills, and it revels in the blood and torn body parts that fill the screen.

Yes, some of the zombie makeup is iffy, simply lots of grey/green makeup to make them appear like corpses, but some of them are just exemplary, and it’s a real treat to watch for the cut where an actor trades places with a dummy or prosthetic as they torn apart.

Bub hints at a possible revolution in zombies, if they can be trained, but there may not be enough humans left on the planet to do that. The rest are singularly focused on their goal, their task, to feed, though they take no sustenance from it, to kill, to spread, to destroy.

This is a great one, and is over before you know it. It’s fun, engaging, and still bloody enjoyable (Savini’s work is masterful), some thirty-four years on. If you like your zombie films bloody, and well-crafted, the early Romero trilogy is not to be missed.

Or pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something bloody and macabre to watch tonight.

Day of the Dead (1)

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