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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Day of the Dead (1985)




Here we are at the last movie in the Zombie marathon. Since I started off with a dreadful remake/reimagining of Romero’s classic Day of the Dead what better way is there to end it with the classic itself? I can’t think of a better movie to end October with than the ultimate bloody gore fest from Romero and Savini. Just in case you haven’t seen this one let me fill you in on the plot.

A small group of survivors is held up in an underground facility vainly trying to figure out the zombie apocalypse that has destroyed much of the world around them. They are broken into two groups; the scientists lead by Dr. Logan and the military under the command of Captain Rhodes. The movie begins long after things have fallen apart so tensions are already high. Rhodes is newly in charge after the death of prior officer and he is about ready to snap. He goes from arguing to being ready to start a firefight over the dinner table. Logan isn’t much better as he has clearly lost his mind by the time we are introduced to him. This is not a formula for success.

In between these two groups are the helicopter pilot John and his friend McDermott who do everything they can to keep their distance from the situation. They realize that things are deteriorating quickly but do come to the aid of one of the scientists, Sarah, when she needs them. When Rhodes and his men find out what Dr. Logan has been doing to reward his star pupil, a zombie named Bub who seems to have retained some intelligence, they are understandably upset. Though shooting the scientists and trying to get John to fly them away might have been a bit of an overreaction. Bullets fly, bodies drop, and the zombies make their way into the facility to chow down on the survivors.

Zombie design it great
Dawn of the Dead is still my favorite of Romero’s zombie movies. I think that the characters from Dawn are better written and the acting is a heck of a lot subtler. Joe Pilato and Richard Liberty are chewing up a lot of scenery as Rhodes and Logan. It is almost cartoonish how over the top most of the performances are in Day of the Dead, which is why I put Dawn ahead of it. The plot is solid and gets right to the zombies showing us a small Florida town that has been overrun with the dead. Then it takes time establishing the characters and dynamic between them. Though they never stray too far away from what brings the audience to a movie like Day of the Dead. They mix enough gore in with Logan’s lab and a dream sequence from Sarah that it keeps our attention until things pick up and get crazy in the last half hour or so. Then we get to see much mayhem and zombie action.

Dawn is a better movie but if I’m going to be honest Day might be a better zombie movie. Savini is at the top of his game here creating such classics as Dr. Tongue and Bub the zombie. There are still a lot of the simple blue faced zombies that filled the screen in Dawn of the Dead, but the feature zombies are way superior. Especially Bub who gets a lot of screen time and has to be a convincing zombie, while still being able to allow the actor to give a performance. I don’t think that the makeup in any zombie movie has ever been as good as this before. Hell the only one that even compares is Savini’s directed Night of the Living Dead remake.

Kills are great
I also think that the kills are some of the best if not the best ever seen on the screen. Sure we get the typical throats being ripped out and bites being taken out of limbs but they double down with some insane sequences. A head is torn off on screen while we hear the scream change as the vocal cords are stretched out, another has the flesh ripped off the face exposing an eye which is then gouged out while the actor squirms underneath a pile of zombies who also tear his chest cavity open and feast on his guts. I do love me some gut munching. But the best is Rhodes fate when he is shot by Bub who remembers how to use a gun and thinks Rhodes is a jerk! He is cornered and torn in half watching his legs being drug down the hallway while his intestines are being eaten in front of him. He still gets in one last line before dying, “Choke on ‘em” is a classic.

When I decided that this October was going to be a Zombie movie marathon, I knew it was time to cover Romero’s big three of Night, Dawn, and Day. Most of the time when I review movies for the Horror Dude Blog I try and bring attention to things that people might never have seen. But that is tempered by my desire to share what I think about some of my favorite movies so occasionally I indulge myself. Whether you have read some or all of my reviews this October I thank you and hope that maybe I’ve inspired you to check out a couple of flicks you hadn’t heard of before. Just in case you hadn’t caught on yet I’m recommending Day of the Dead.


© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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