In Night of the Living Dead we saw the start of the outbreak & in Dawn of the Dead we saw society begin to collapse as the dead began to outnumber the living.
For his third movie in the Dead series, George A. Romero gave the world to the walking dead. Survivors are few & the ones that have escaped the zombie grasps are in hiding slowly going mad.
This is the situation that greets us at the opening of my favourite Romero Dead movie. A city deserted…a newspaper blows across the ground showcasing the headline ‘The Dead Walk’ & bodies litter the doorways. Nothing moves until a helicopter arrives, 3 people get out on the lookout for survivors. The noise they create brings the dead out of the buildings & we see just how many now exist.
It’s worth noting here just how far the zombie make-up has come in the Dead movies, as they come out of the buildings we see them in all their gory detail. It is amazing….
The group escape in their helicopter back to an underground base. A number of soldiers, scientists & civilians are living there led by unstable Captain Rhodes. The increasingly dangerous experiments with zombies led by the obsessed Dr. Logan are causing tension between the soldiers & scientists as is being trapped underground with dwindling supplies & lack of authority.
The group of scientists hope to control the zombies & Dr. Logan is making headway with one zombie particularly, Bub. Bub is the first real sign that a zombie can think for itself & be taught but when it becomes clear that Dr. Logan is using the bodies of the dead soldiers to reward him the situation takes a serious turn for the worst.
Meanwhile a suicidal solider believing that there is no hope & that trying to survive is useless breaks out of captivity & leads the zombies into the base. Chaos reigns as soldiers turn on each other, zombies have their way & a few try desperately to escape alive.
Day of the Dead is not an upbeat movie (except for the ending that is at odds with the overall tone); in fact it’s all about show-casing humanities end & what happens when people used to being in control lose everything. The group of soldiers are some of the most unlikeable men that you want to have sympathy for but it’s a struggle. Captain Rhodes has clearly lost the plot from the moment they have a ‘staff meeting’. He is one step away from killing everyone & it makes for some very tense scenes involving him. He also has one of the best death scenes in any zombie movie ever.
As well as the before-mentioned improvement with the zombie make-up, the gore effects are also much better. Faces ripped off, legs torn off, throats ripped out & a really nasty stomach guts spilling are just some of the top moments that any gore fan can enjoy.
Day of the Dead gets everything pretty much everything right provided you’re interested in a darker tone. There are very few light moments to enjoy throughout Day but it’s a better movie for it. In a world dominated by zombies where only handfuls of survivors exist moments of happiness would be few.
Day shares little in common (except for the zombies) with the 2 movies that came before it but one of the more obvious similarities (at least with Dawn) is the choice of a stronger female character. In fact Day takes it one step further by making her the lead character & the actor does a great job of the role. She’s not an ass-kicking style of character & is reliant on others for help but she’s a far cry from Barbara.
Day of the Dead is one of my favourite zombie movies & my favourite Romero zombie movie. For a long time I didn’t enjoy the dark tone of the movie but I grew to love it & I grew to love the reality of what a zombie outbreak would do to the world. Great acting, great characters, great zombie make-up & gore effects…Day of the Dead is great.
Day Of The Dead