Released in 1985, the final part of George Romero's original zombie trilogy takes place after the zombie plague has well and truly ravaged humanity, the last human surviors being a government appointed department of soldiers, scientists and engineers that have holed up in a huge military bunker, occasioanlly making forays into the surrounding area in a helicopter but powerless to do anything about the endless hordes of the undead.
All outside contact has been lost, and the heirarchy within the bunker is threatening to disintegrate, with tensions rising dangerously high. Whilst the scientists continue to try and work out a way to end the plague by carrying out experiments on captured zombies, the soldiers, led by the irrational and overly controlling captain Rhodes are becoming increasingly dispossessed about the scientists' efforts, not least because they have to risk their lives to procure new live specimens every time the scientists require a fresh reanimated corpse.
The film revolves around the volatile politics of the bunker, but with plenty of old-school horror effects included as well, such as when a zombie sits up on the dissection table to try and reach a scientist, only for its internal organs to slosh out onto the floor, and another scene in which a soldier is bitten and has his arm amputated and the wound cauterised with nothing more advanced than an a machete and a burning torch lit with petrol.
Tension between the two sides of the engineers and scientists on one hand and the soldiers on the other incraesingly threatens to spill over into violent action, whilst central protagonist Dr Sarah Bowman's mentally unbalanced soldier fiance threatens to jeapordise safety of everyone inside the bunker with his increasingly unhinged behaviour........
Day of the Dead is an excellent film and provides a logical conclusion to Romero's trilogy whilst raising some important questions about issues such as vivisection and of the duties of indivuduals to themselves versus society at large.
In many ways it follows the same formula as the original Night of the Living Dead, only with 12 people trapped inside a military bunker instead of 6 trapped in a Pennsylvania farmhouse, but the film is by no means derivative and remains an excellent and intelligent horror film in its own right. The balance of horror and comedy seen in predecessor "Dawn of the Dead" makes a welcome reappearence here too, with the introduction of Bubba, an ex military man turned human corpse who is trained to follow basic commands and ends up meting out some poetic justice of his own towards the end. A classic film, and the perfect end to a hungely important horror trilogy
note: also appears in part on The Student Room and Flixster
George A. Romero shot to fame with his classic horror film Night of the Living Dead in 1968, which was a classic allegory of racial hatred and prejudice. He also produced a just as great sequel in 1978 - Dawn of the Dead - which lampooned the consumer culture we live in today, where we ourselves are little more than zombies. Day of the Dead is not quite as accomplished as those films or as pungent with a social commentary, but it's still a great addition to the series, and one of his better films.
In Day, the zombie apocalypse has taken hold over the world, causing the survivors to band up in a military complex for their own safety. Inside, however, more nefarious things are going on, as scientists attempt to learn more about the zombies by capturing one, called Bub, and attempting to condition him.
What interests me most is how the film serves as a pungent look at a world without a central government. The scientists are initially meant to stop the zombie outbreak, but instead get obsessed with playing God, while the army get egotistical and rule in an almost dystopic, tyrranical way. Finally, the normal humans simple employ base fatalism, and endeavour to abandon their posts altogether and simply take their chances living on their own. This all combines to amount to a breakout of chaos, where the lines between law and order are utterly demolished, and the survivors must once again contend with a horde of hungry zombies.
Not as well-made as Night or Dawn, but it's still highly enjoyable zombie shtick with Romero's unmistakable touch. Gore-hounds will love it because of the insane violence and superb special effects for its time. It's also notable as Romero's favourite film that he's made himself.
Director: George A. Romero.
Producer: Richard P. Rubinstein
Writer: George A. Romero
Stars: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joe Pilato, Sherman Howard, Antoine Dileo and Jarlath Conroy.
Released in 1985, 17 years after Romero's original idea of the dead walking the streets, this hour and forty minute horror sees the undead being held at a unorthodox military base and used in experiments to try and find a cure for the state of the world.
* BRIEF PLOT
Somewhere underground there are a groups of surviving humans who are holding a heard of zombie creatures in a massive prison type cell...
The group consists of a couple of scientists, Dr Logan, (played by Richard Liberty) and Dr Ted Fisher, (played by John Amplas) and Sarah (Lori Cardille), who are studying the zombies in the hope of finding a way to defeat them.
And a team of soldiers, led by Captain Rhodes, (played by Joseph Pilato), who does seem to be on the verge of a total brain meltdown.
Unfortunately, the scientists and the soldiers are constantly arguing about what to do with the many zombies they have trapped in the underground tunnels.
With the two groups at loggerheads the other members in the compound, helicopter pilot John (played by Terry Alexander) and his friend William McDermott (played by Jarlath Conroy) try to avoid the friction and end up living deep inside one of the tunnels in a caravan, having a plan to fly to a desolate island and enjoy life away from the undead...
As Doctor Logan experiments on the zombies which the soldiers capture he hopes to find a way to co-inside with the flesh eating undead... using Bub, (played by Sherman Howard), a zombie who shows some signs of intelligence as his main experiment....
Unfortunately, as the soldiers job of capturing the zombies becomes deadly and Rhodes discovers the gruesome truth regarding Logans reward scheme for Bub the trouble really starts... leaving the entire underground compound in danger of being seize by the wondering zombies.
* IN CONCLUSION
Not the greatest of the Romero collection but still a good movie to watch with it's interesting storyline and a rather more in-depth look on a persons life... as it does try to show the different feeling of three 'groups' of survivors... the scientists who want to discover what has happened and what can be done to resolve the situation... then there's the soldiers who simply want to kill all the zombies before they escape and kill them all... and finally there's the 'civilians' who simply want to live out there lives without fear of being attacked by the undead...
The special effect are as 'comical' as you would expect from the living dead collection, (although with this one being made in the mid 80s you would have thought a little bit more attention to the gory scenes would have made it less tacky and a little more frightening... (although maybe the dodgy special effects are intentional??? Giving the movie that old fashioned look which Romero became so famous for with his first 'living dead' sagas??).
This story does tend to become a little on the deep feeling side, straying from the initial zombie horror track for a lot of the plot... seeming to concentrate more on the scientific research rather than gore factor, (of which the 'living dead' stories have always been about) does tend to make this one a little bit more boring than its predecessors, although it does catch up with itself towards the end when the blood fest does begin...
The all round acting is as good enough to keep the movie flowing, with each character displaying all sorts of emotions... Richard Liberty as the excitable Doctor logan with his experiments... Joseph Pilato as the completely insane and very dangerous Captain Rhodes and the laid back attitude of Alexander and Conroy as they simply try to live there lives to the full...
But the man of the match award has to go to the brilliant Sherman Howard as Bub, the slightly intelligent zombie, who looks like he wouldn't hurt a fly... tending to make you feel sorry for him (in a way)... until you come to your senses and realise just what he is portraying...
In all, another brilliant creation from the very strange mind of George A. Romero and his zombie look on life... although this does tend to be slightly different with this one, giving it more of a sombre story line rather than his usual flesh ripping, brain eating, blood lusting story lines, (although there is a good amount of it in this movie too)
It is another fine gore movie to watch but is again probably not to everyones taste, (even if you approach it knowing it has a more humorous side than horrific side, due to it's very bizarre use of some dodgy special effects).
If you are interested in adding this to your collection then you can get a copy from amazon.co.uk for as little as 6 and a half quid... which is not bad for over a hundred minutes of madcap mayhem....
Although not the best it is still worthy of watching for all you Romero fans...
** Other Soldiers in the movie under the command of the mad Captain Rhodes...
Privates Miguel Salazar (Anthony Dileo JR)
Pvt Steel (Gary Howard Klar)
pvt Rickles (Ralph Marrero)
pvt Miller (Phillip G. Kellams)
pvt Torrez (Taso N. Stavrakis)
pvt Johnson (Gregory Nicotero)
This is a decent film in it's own right & stands up well against the other Romero films too. It's quite good start to the film with the fake scare before the opening credits have even rolled & a group of civilians with 1 soldier looking for survivors in what seems to be a ghost town but is full of the living dead.
With the return back to the compound you see the civilians are in the minority in an underground military bunker where research is being done on the undead by a crazed scientist called Logan. There is definitely a big divide between the military & the civilians & quite a lot of animosity and frayed nerves of those living on the edge.
Despite it's age this film still looks good, the effects stand up to close scrutiny. The script & acting aren't fantastic, the people playing the soldiers all over-act like crazy playing their characters to the extreme. The scares are still good but not much more. Captain Rhodes is insane with power & his men (what's left of them) aren't all that much saner than he is.
As much as they want to leave the lead scientists question is very valid. Where would they go? The actual location itself is great. It certainly does look like an underground bunker. It was a mine, and is a storage facility now. The location supports the feeling of living in too close quarters with people getting cabin fever & just wanting out, no matter where.
The attempts to civilise or domesticate the zombies by Logan is quite an interesting idea, as is the reaction of the military who would much sooner kill them all. Private Steel is pretty much pushed over the edge after seeing 1 of his men killed & having to kill another who was infected (even though he was begged by the man to kill him rather than become a zombie).
The stand-off after this & the idea you can prevent someone becoming a zombie by cutting off the effected limb are quite cool scenes. Sarah (the lead female scientist) is pretty much on the edge of hysteria herself there at the thought of having to possibly kill someone she cares about (Private Salazar, the 1 soldier who seems sane but on the brink of exhaustion).
After finding out Dr Logan had not only been experimenting on the bodies of his men but also feeding them to Bub (the tame zombie), Captain Rhodes goes totally crazy & kills Dr Logan & his assistant Ted Fisher. He takes everyone prisoner & insists the civilian helicopter pilot John flies just the soldiers to safety. Even though I've seen this film several times I still can't work out how Bub manages to undo his chains so easily. Salazar takes the lift to the surface. The scares where Sarah and William find the rock-slide are possibly the best in the entire film.
John manages to jump Rhodes & escape. I assume Salazar opens the gates to let the zombies in as he feels he is almost certainly going to become one anyway. There's a great goof that the American Football Zombie comes down on the elevator (he's the one who falls off) but ALSO comes through the corral entrance in a completely different part of the compound. I guess the director didn't think we'd be looking at the zombies that carefully.
Bubs emotional outburst at finding Dr Logan dead was a completely new idea back then, that a zombie could care for someone. The special effects for the deaths of the remaining soldiers are really gory & still look pretty darn amazing to be honest. Steel is the only one not killed by the zombies (shooting himself in the head) and his death effect is very convincing too.
The scare when Sarah gets in the helicopter is very good (I'll be honest, pretty much all the scares apart from the very 1st which I remembered wasn't real managed to make me jump) and the weakest thing about this movie is the lack of an ending, Sarah, John & William on a sandy beach somewhere just isn't enough for me. It still stands the test of time & is far superior to its modern "remake". Highly worth a watch if your a horror fan.
Most zombie movies are nihilistic gore-fests. Nobody lives, nothing is learned, and in the end it's a chance to scare some people and gross out others. The recent remakes of Romero's classics have been even worse--mostly a collection of brutal films that exist for no reason other than to make the viewer feel bad.
This one is different. No, it's not a happy movie, and no, it doesn't skimp on the violence. It stands with the (much more recent) 28 days later in that it uses the zombies for a literary purpose--that is, to say something about the human characters living among them.
The movie examines the struggle of a group of soldiers and government scientists living in an underground bunker. The zombies are too numerous to fight now, and it is presumed that the entire world has been engulfed by their unending hunger. Against this bleak backdrop, some of the characters shine, while others sink as low as the creatures they so despise. The film didn't make the huge splash that the others did, but in my opinion, was the best of the early trilogy.
And for God's sake, don't buy the remake.
The start of Day Of The Dead may be the best thing George A Romero has ever directed. A nightmarish dream sequence will make you jump out of your seat. Sarah, our nominal hero, reaches out to touch a calender and screams as dozens of zombie hands cut through the wall. We switch to Sarah waking in a helicopter - but in Day Of The Dead reality is as chilling as any nightmare. The helicopter lands in a deserted city. Sarah and her companion use a loudspeaker to call out but the only response is the unsettling moan of hundreds or thousands of zombies. They appear to have taken complete control now. The opening section is a minor masterpiece where music, images and a palpable atmosphere all come together.
Day is set in an underground military bunker which has been fashioned out of an abandoned mine. It is a creepy and unique location and Romero uses it well with great invention. Trapped in this grim setting are a small team of soldiers and scientists - sent there to 'study' the zombie problem. We learn quickly that their numbers have been depleted by death, they can't even contact Washington anymore let alone anywhere else, and they don't get on. The two groups set agaisnt each other, both, you suspect, musing on the chances of escape in the solitary helicopter. Day is about not getting on at any level. The world as we know it may have ended but petty human disputes and ego stil exist. It was wise of Romero to add a West Indian helicopter pilot and Irish radio operator to the mix. The characters John and Mcdermott side with Sarah and the scientists and add humanity and kindness to the cast of mostly unpleasant characters. Terry Alexander also continues the Romero tradition of a strong black lead.
The soldier characters are perhaps a tad too broad in their depiction. They are unfailingly dimwitted and unpleasant, and this is one minor gripe I have with the film. Romero is clearly no fan of the military and he makes his point in a somewhat heavy-handed fashion. The scientists fare a little better. They are depicted as simply trying to do their job although Romero makes clear they aren't accomplishing anything and Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty) with his gruesome experiments is shown to lack moral ethics. I sensed a vague comment on animal testing in these sequences but that might have been just me. One of Romero's strengths is in lacing his films with enough food for thought to generate these questions.
It will come as no suprise to find out that the zombies eventually gatecrash this sanctuary and provide the most gruesome sequence in Romero's career. Strong stomachs will be needed for the end! Up until this point Day is very talky and rich in atmosphere. Romero's prime goal is to enrich the film with a sense of dread. He does with great success. There are also poignant, affecting moments beyond the scope of most horror directors. Sarah is taken down to the corner of the mine Terry and Mcdermott have made their own with a mobile home. Terry tells her that down there with them is the print of every movie ever made and financial data, records of every war - human history now consigned to a cave with a dwindling band of humans. A tombstone for the human race. Terry says they should leave and instruct any humans that exist in the future to never go in the cave. Another small but touching moment comes when Sarah is forced to give a soldier who appears to be a boyfriend a sedative before he has a complete breakdown. It's the small touches like this that put Day a step above the average horror film.
The acting in Day has been questioned and while no one was going to threaten the Academy Awards I think Richard Liberty as Dr Logan was very funny. His verbal jousts with Captain Rhodes are a highlight of the film. Joe Pilato as Rhodes goes way over the top but he is given some funny lines. Sherman Howard as 'Bub' , a zombie Logan is trying to 'domesticate' does some good work.
Overall Day is not quite up to Dawn but much better than Land Of The Dead. I've seen Day many times and it always holds up and remains a fascinating experience. A unique and underrated film.
Tom Savini recieves a much deserved tribute. His make-up and effects a joy to see. Romero is always a friendly and engaging presence throughtout any extras. Also, the story behind Day - it was redrafted and shot for a much lower budget when the original script was deemed too expensive - is almost as interesting as the final film. Love the Day trailer too - the darkest day of horror the world has ever known!
In 1985, George A Romero followed up his seminal zombie films Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) with Day of the Dead. The zombies are winning the battle and the cities have been abandoned, with survivors left to fend for themselves. This film concentrates on a small band of scientists and soldiers holed up in an underground bunker, trying to find a cure for the zombie curse.
Unlike previous Romero films, which concentrated on just a few characters (both Night and Dawn had just 4 key characters), Day introduces us to a group of 12. This marks a departure for Romero in more ways than one. One of the strengths of his previous films is that, because there were few characters, he was able to devote time to developing their personalities, so we got to know them well and cared about them. Here, however, because there are so many and the films running time is relatively short, the characters are not developed to the same extent. So, when it comes time to start the killing, its tricky to remember who has already been killed and who is still alive, or indeed to care a great deal.
Characters also feel a little lazy, clichéd and stereotypical (the scientists are either slightly mad or geeky, the West Indian character is chilled out, the military men are borderline psychotic). They also undergo very little change during the film unlike previous films where existing attitudes and ideas were challenged. This is a shame, because it was character development which made Night and Dawn so watchable. More seriously, you dont build up the same empathy with the characters, so dont care about what happens to them.
The other problem is that, on the whole, the acting is not great. Romero has never exactly had great acting talent to work with. Despite this, hes always managed to coax strong performances out of his cast. Here, however, he seems unable to do that. Probably the pick of the bunch is Sarah (Lori Cardille), who convinces as the strong, female lead, trying to hold together an increasingly fraught situation. Also worthy of note (for me) is Dr Logan (Richard Liberty), but his performance will divide audiences. He plays the stereotypical mad scientist with such gusto that I find it impossible not to be charmed. He gets just the right mix of humanity, obsession, humour and ego to come across as dedicated, daffy but also dangerous. Its a great performance. However, I know other people who find him annoying, so I guess its down to personal preference!
The rest, as I say, are lazy stereotypes performed by (at best) average actors. In particular, Joseph Pilato (as Captain Rhodes) is weak. Hes clearly trying to play the role as a dangerous man on the edge, but seems to think this just involves shouting a lot. Again, its a shame, because the poor acting means you dont care as much as you should about the characters.
The zombies are a lot more impressive than the unrealistic blue zombies that appeared in Dawn. Presumably because they have now been dead longer (and also because Romero had a slightly bigger budget!), the effects are a lot more realistic. Romero has moved away from his blue period and returned to the pale skinned corpses of Night far more effective. Also, the zombies are shown in various states of decay, rather than just looking like slightly pale humans. A big leap forward in the special effects of the film!
Despite the advance in effects, however, Romero continues his trend of trying to have his zombies retain some degree of humanity. This is best shown in Bub Logans pet project whom he is trying to retrain to not eat people! Howard Sherman (or Sherman Howard he doesnt quite seem able to decide which way round his name goes!) plays Bub brilliantly. He brings just the right amount of feeling to the role, arousing our sympathies as he is taught to recall and repeat some common tasks (shaving, reading a book, using a phone etc.) Equally, we can share his frustration at things he is no longer able to do and at what he has become, giving Bub a degree of pathos and tragedy, Mind you, it comes to something when one of the best actors in the film is a zombie!
Theres a very impressive opening in which a group of humans (led by Sarah) land their helicopter in the middle of a deserted city and start shouting for any survivors to show themselves. The site of a once thriving city so empty is an arresting sight (and one copied in 2002s 28 Days Later) and really grabs your attention. Theres then a double whammy as the only things which respond to the calls are the zombies just a few at first, then more and more and more , until the streets of the whole city is seen from above, completely filled with zombies. The message is clear the war is lost, zombies control the cities. Its a superb opening sequence.
The trouble is, its also a sequence which the rest of the film never really recaptures. Part of this is due to the plot. For most of the film, the survivors are holed up in an underground bunker and the zombies are trapped on the surface where a huge fence prevents them getting into the compound. The only zombies in the complex are those being held in a special area and which are occasionally rounded up for experimentation. This is a real problem, because it means that there is no immediate sense of peril. This is a severe problem for a horror film.
Another problem is that the film cant seem to decide what it wants to be, and so ends up being nothing. It drops the psychological horror of Night and the social commentary of Dawn and seems almost to want to become an action film with more running around, shouting and shooting than in previous Romero films. The trouble is, Romero and the cast lack the budget (and talent) to do action properly, so its mostly just running around lots of dark tunnels pretty dull stuff.
With Day, Romero also seems to lose sight of what made Night in particular so scary the increasing, creeping, relentless sense of hopelessness and doom. These made for a superbly atmospheric film. Here, he seems to concentrate more on traditional horror film shock tactics things suddenly leaping out at the screen, or zombies leaping out at characters from dark corners. Yet even these bits are few and far between and will not scare seasoned horror film watchers, as the shocks are telegraphed a mile off.
Having said all that, I think Day has a much more traditional narrative structure, and so will perhaps appeal to a wider audience than Romeros earlier efforts, which some people find a little lacking in pace. In particular, the chase through the zombie-infested catacombs is more like a traditional horror film as the characters are alone, lost, in the dark and surrounded by monsters. This may make the film more satisfying for some, but for fans of Romeros style, its more likely to prove a little disappointing.
Where the film excels is in the gore. Its clear that with Day, Romero finally had the budget to fulfil his vision. Gone is the vivid red, unrealistic blood that characterised Dawn and in comes far more convincing effects. So, we get limbs being chopped off, zombie cadavers ripped open in a kind of sick autopsy, with their insides falling out and bodies of victims torn apart, whilst they are still alive and screaming. It is definitely not a film for the faint-hearted nor one to watch whilst youre having your tea!
Finally, the ending is a huge disappointment. Whereas Night had a haunting ending and Dawn an ambiguous one, here Romero goes for the standard (relatively) happy Hollywood ending. It feels like a bit of a cop-out from the man who showed how great and daring low budget independent film-making could be, and perhaps suggests that he intended Day to be his last zombie film.
Themes and Issues
As with all Romero films, he includes references to issues which he thinks are affecting society.
** Militarism: this is a fairly obvious one, since half the cast are soldiers. However, Romero looks at what happens when there is power without responsibility. Society has trained these men to shoot, kill and obey orders. Yet, now there is no-one left to give those orders, they are loose cannons, terrorising others and using bullying tactics to try and get what they want. This is an indictment of Reaganite foreign policy, which sought to use Americas strength to bully other nations into submission. Theres also consideration (shown by the rapidly deteriorating relationships between the soldiers and the scientists) of the conflict between normal society and military life.
** Science: or science without responsibility. Scientists who do things simply because they can, and who attach no importance to non-human life forms. Logan is the chief character through which Romero delivers this little broadside (the fact that Logans nickname is Frankenstein gives the game away!). We see him experimenting on zombies removing all their organs, yet keeping them alive and then casually despatching them with a drill through the head when he has no further use for them. This has clear parallels with animal experimentation. We also see him trying to train zombies to be nice treating them like small children Now, I want you to just sit there in the dark and think about what youve done. However, in order to achieve his results, Logan has to cross ethical boundaries and has no qualms in doing so, claiming the ends justify the means. In other words, scientists need to learn that just because something CAN be done doesnt mean it should be.
** Religion: there are a couple of digs at religion. At one stage, one of the characters suggests that the zombie plague is a punishment from the creator. Later, Logan laments the fact that religion is used as a form of social control, to keep the poor population subdued by the promise of the afterlife (the classic jam tomorrow promise.) So, he comments of the zombies, they can be tricked into being good little girls and boys. Same way we were tricked on the promise of something better to come.
This is probably the most disappointing of Romeros zombie films. Although more immediately accessible to a wider audience, it will be too gory for non-horror fans, not scary enough for horror fans and just too plain, non-descript and average for Romero fans. Its worth watching once, as it does build on the zombie dominated world which Romero has set up, but its not really a film that deserves repeat viewing.
Day of the Dead
Director: George A Romero
Running Time: approx. 102 minutes
Not so much a piece of trivia this time as an observation: I cant help feeling that Jarlath Conroy, who plays Bill McDermott bears an uncanny resemblance to Rowan Atkinson. I dont know about you, but if I were surrounded by hordes of zombies, I wouldnt want Mr. Bean helping me out (although Blackadder might come in handy with some of his cunning plans!)
The opening scenes are unforgettable. A helicopter searches for survivors of a zombie holocaust (that?s when zombies take over the world, in case you didn't know), the camera cutting to the empty streets below. A lone figure is stumbling across the street, lifting its face to the sky as it reaches the camera. Whats left of its face, that is. Its all messed up, perhaps eaten up, and it is an unsettlingly ugly sight. It lets out a low moan as the titles appear and before you can say "Yeah, gimme more zombies!? the streets are full of them. The rotting, smelly, walking dead. All over the place, shambling between discarded newspapers and an escaped pet alligator (which you just know has devoured its owners). Their make-up is great (the actors' that is, not the zombies - but then I'm sure its hard to put your lipstick on straight when your hands are a jiggling mass of zombified nerves). There's something utterly convincing them, something which 'Dawn of Dead's zombies lacked. They look how corpses should - pathetic, pantomime shells whose features have been emptied of all expression, all life. You laugh, not because they are portrayed badly, but because their absurdity is so spot on. An apocalyptic beginning then, and I guess apocalypses are hard to follow, but 'Day of the Dead' lives up to a lot of its promise. Its format is similar to its predecessors 'Night of he Living Dead' and 'Dawn of the Dead'. Zombies are on the rampage, and a small group of survivors find themselves trapped and fighting for their lives. A simple plot, but one which allows for all manner of subtexts. Director George Romero has an uncanny knack of reflecting social situations of the day. 'Night of the Living Dead' works so well because the house the protagonists take refuge in becomes a microcosm of the world outside - the guy who boards himself and his family in the cellar, leaving the others to die... i
n the same way he might draw the curtains if he saw trouble brewing out on the street. The redneck lynch mob shooting zombies for sport, shooting a black man because he's a probably a zombie, but so what if he ain't - "thats one less of them", whichever way. All very pertinent to America at that time. The protagonists in 'Dawn of the Dead' are sheltering in a shopping mall. Around them the zombies wander up and down the elevators, looking just like shoppers congregating in a mindless, yes zombie-like, instinct to shop. An instinct to consume human flesh paralleled with an instinct to consume goods. All very pertinent to America at that time. 'Day of the Dead' depicts a ruthless dog eat dog world, where society' progress (and in this case survival) is hampered by competition and divided interests. The main protagonist heads a unit searching for a solution to the zombie plague. The unit is based in a nuclear bunker, and while zombies shamble ever closer outside, the gathered scientists and soldiers bicker over how to deal with them. The scientists want to understand the zombies, perhaps even pacify them, while the soldiers want to blow their brains out - and the first half of the movie depicts the deterioration in their relationship to the point of murder. "Why can't we all just work together" exasperates the leader. "We're pulling in different directions all the time" "Thats whats wrong with this world", replies the philosophical helicopter pilot. "Everyone wants different things from it" Apocalypse hangs heavy in the air - one character descends into madness, the group begins to disintegrate, and all solutions seem futile. The temptation is there to give in to situation, accept it as fate, or Gods will, and fly off to Jamaica to enjoy the sunshine while they can. A selfish, socially irresponsible choice in the eyes of Sarah (L
ori Cardille), but one that becomes increasingly hard to argue with - after all, there isn't really a society left to feel responsible to. It?s worth noting that the main protagonist is a woman, the pilot is black, and his co-worker a drunken Irishman. As with the other films in the trilogy it is the outsiders who are the heroes. Its one of the things which sets the trilogy apart from your average horror flick, which more often than not proposes white male values as an ideal, rather than the oppressive horror it often is. And once again we wonder if the zombies are really all that bad. After all, despite their terrifying homogeneity,all zombies are equal in one another's eyes (death being that most certain of equalizers), while our protagonists are continually belittled and spited for their sex and their colour by their human companions. That said, the allegory is laid on perhaps a little too thick in this final installment, and the occsionally hammy acting, though effective in its way (after all, I'm sure people do get a bit OTT when the end of the world is nigh), distracts from the quality of the script. The acting, and the hurried, predictable finale are due I suspect to the lack of budget Romero complained about. But somehow the rawness of low budget filmmaking seems appropriate to the savagery (both psychological and physical) of the events, and besides, the ingenuity of the subplots and special effects more than compensate. There's a wonderful twist on the Frankenstein theme, with an obsessed doctor trying to domesticate one of the captured zombies, which provides both warmth and tragic humour to an otherwise very downbeat, claustrophobic film. We are reminded of the escaped alligator, of its inherent untameability. Then, bearing in mind what the zombies represent (the inescapable horror of death), we think of the futility of our attempt to domesticate that horror (which is surely what funerals, graveyards
and the like are an attempt to do? An attempt to pacify death, to bring it back into our own world on our own terms?). Of course, the more domesticated Bub the zombie becomes, the more human he behaves, so the more threat he poses - a delicious irony that is played for all its worth in the finale, where Romero takes a bit of back seat, letting Tom Savini's special effects take the limelight, prolonging the scenes of humans being torn apart by zombies as long as he can. He prolongs their life too, letting them scream in agony and terror long after they would realistically be dead (like when they're head's been torn off, and their entrails are being divided up like sausages). It?s a macabre, witty touch, and importantly the director only does it when the victim is a deserving one, the good guys being given far more mercy. Have I mentioned the zombies? Can I again? They're brilliant. It occurs to me now how sharply they've been portrayed. The zombies in 'Night' drooled and licked their way through their victims like they were delicacies being tasted by virgin zombie-teeth. By 'Dawn' they were well and truly tucking in. But by 'Day', with so few humans left to eat, they are downright ravenous - all clawing hands, hungry moans and greedy jostling. Just watch them tear the flesh from their victims like beggars around a loaf - its chillingly authentic (something to do with Savini's war photographer credentials), and also rather fun (because this isn't war, its a movie). Well there we go - a satisfying end to the trilogy. A bit chewier than the main course, and certainly not as delicious as the starter, but still far, far tastier than what most movies have to offer.
Day Of The Dead, is the third film in the Living Dead series. The Lving Dead series describes what impact zombies would have on the human population. In the first film Night Of The Living Dead, we begin to see towns being taken over by the dead, in Dawn Of The Dead, there are still quite a few survivors scattered here and there. Day Of Dead follows on from here, now there are only a few survivors left, zombies out number up 400,000 to 1. Day Of The Dead revolves exculsively around a group of military personnal and scientists holed up in an underground missile silo. There is no escape, there is a helicoper but where are they going to go? No place on earth is zombie free. As you can imagine food is running low and so is ammunition. The scientists are working desperately to find a way of ridding the world of these creatures, but this is almost immpossible because there is no proper equipment to carry out tests. The miliary resent the scientists and basically see them as a waste of space, we are left with a situation where everyone is at each others throats. One man Dr Frankenstein as he is nicknamed, thinks he has found a way of solving the problem. He feels that conditioning them is the only way, and he does succeed with one zombie called Bob. However, something has to give, watch and see how the zombie succeed in making our world theirs. This film is very gruesome, and there is no shortage of blood and guts, at the same time some moral issues are addressed, and also there is a bit of humor thrown in. Some people feel this is the worst film in the trilogy, but in my opinion its not. This is certainly a film for any zombie fanatic.
I'm intending to review some of the better films on the telly over Christmas, and I thought I'd begin with perhaps one of the more festive family films on offer over Christmas week - George A. Romero's blood-spattered horror classic, 'Day of the Dead', winner of the George Lazenby Award for best Decapitation Sequence in cinema history. This is on Channel 4, Saturday 22nd December at 1.15am (if you're being picky, this is actually very early Sunday morning). This really isn't an acessible film, it's for people with very strong stomachs who have seen both previous movies. In a stroke of scheduling genius, the first of the three Dead films is on Channel 4 on Boxing Day, and the middle and best film 'Dawn of the Dead' isn't on at all. 'Day of the Dead' is one of those films that really separates the amateur from the professional. Generally unsensational, well-acted and well-made, with a deliberately low-key tone and a lack of bombast and showing off, it is exceptionally violent and gory. When Leslie Halliwell's film guide used sniffily said that it wasn't for general audience consumption, you kind of know what he meant. The film isn't what director George Romero intended - 'Night of the Living Dead' sees society start to crumble as a mysterious plague starts to raise the dead; 'Dawn of the Dead' watches the walls starting to fall, with cities rapidly becoming walking cemeteries; the third film was supposed to see a future where humankind has tamed the zombie, and live luxurious lifestyles while the undead hordes fight the wars. But this was a costly vision, and so Romero stops short of this, going beyond ?Dawn? to see humanity at the very end of the road. There are plenty of movies about the end of the world - 'Twelve Monkeys', 'On the Beach', 'A Boy and his Dog' among many others - but a lot of them mix silly cynicism with hippyish optimism about id
ealised future communities. 'Day of the Dead' is one of the few films to consider what the complete collapse of civilisation would actually be like. It's not pretty. At the end of 'Dr Strangelove', the war room lunatics are marvelling over the possibilities of life hidden in a nuclear bunker - in this film, the characters are living that, and are gradually, irresistibly being drawn towards complete self-annihilation. Marooned far from anywhere in a Florida bunker, the protagonists are in a research station attempting to keep out crowds of marauding zombies and find out what drives the undead. The few laughs in the film come from Richard Liberty as Dr Frankenstein, an impossibly naïve scientist convinced that his zombie pets can be domesticated. But while there are moments when the zombies threaten, the threat is almost entirely internal. The ghouls gather around the entrance to the compound, but what is really making things dangerous is the violent, unreasonable army contingent, incapable of functioning without the chain of command, the normal restrictions of society. Thrown into a situation where nothing is certain and no-one knows what to do, the soldiers get trigger-happy, paranoid and resentful. There's not much optimism to be had, largely because like his previous ?Dead? movies, Romero doesn?t seem to put much faith in traditional movie heroism. The main character Sarah (Lori Cardille) is genuinely sympathetic, but she's fundamentally passive, and at a loss about how to calm the psycho soldiers she shares the bunker with, or force her erstwhile boyfriend Miguel (Antone DiLeo) to accept the reality of their predicament. Miguel's madness, the base commander's paranoia, Frankenstein's insanity, and the inability of the good people to do anything - it all combines to make the moment when the zombies invade completely inevitable. Romero seems to want to change the emphasis from playtime to
grown-up stuff. Violence isn't sexy, he seems to want to say, and it isn't fun. It isn't a dramatic flash of action, it's painful and messy and horrible. And that's what you get in this movie, big time. All the way through, there is a heavy emphasis on blood, bodies and viscera which won't please the squeamish (the severed head of a zombie still alive on the slab, another one sitting up despite being mid-operation and depositing its guts on the floor). But the climax is something else, something of a triumph for Tom Savini, the master of fleshy blood-spattered make-up effects. People are literally ripped to shreds before your eyes, and without the normal shrieking music and OTT camera angles - the carnage just happens in front of your eyes (a friend of mine only accepts that one portion, where a man's head is pulled off, was not snuff footage, because I showed him the behind the scenes portion of my DVD). Savini was - unwillingly - a combat photographer in Vietnam, and his effects have a horribly plausible feeling, despite the sometimes unlikely surroundings in which they are to be found. But not here - this is like a war movie, like a snapshot of the end of the world. If your idea of a perfect horror film is 'The Others', you might want to think twice about setting the video for this. It?s a nasty film, but not frivolous or sadistic, just painful and profoundly cynical about the human race. So definitely one to put off while you're digesting the turkey.
Once again I have re-written this opinion, when I first wrote it, it was about ninety words in length and not very interesting. The re-written review is below, if you previously rated, could you please re-rate accordingly? This is George Romero's third film in The Living Dead series; it was released several years after Dawn Of The Dead. The Plot. --------- The film is set in an underground army bunker, where a small group of scientists are working on ways to try and finally kill the Living Dead forever. The Zombies have now taken over the world and it looks as though they are the only remaining survivors. The survivors have used the helicopter to scour the area, but all they find each time are hungry Zombies. The situation looks grim for the survivors, their supplies are dwindling, food, medical supplies and ammunition are almost gone. To make a bad situation even worst the scientific and military teams are constantly at each other throats, and every day that goes by, more and more Zombies are gathering around the base. The military officer in charge Captain Rhodes starts to threaten the scientific team, he tells them that if they don't come up with some results, him and his men will abandon the base, and leave them as Zombie nosh. Whilst one of the scientist's Sarah, is desperately trying to find a way to send the Zombie's back to their graves forever. Dr Logan, referred to as Frankenstein by the others, believes he has found an alternative solution, by means of domestication. He proves his theory by training a Zombie specimen, who is nicknamed Bub. Bub responds to Frankenstein's commands, and doesn't try to eat him. Just as the situation seems to be looking good, Captain Rhodes discovers that Frankenstein has been feeding Bub and the other Zombies, body parts from his dead men. Rhodes prepares to carry out his previous threat, but before he has time to impl
ement his plan, the Living Dead manage to break into there only place of safety. All hell then breaks loose, as the battle between the living and the dead takes place. Some of the most goriest scenes are filmed during this time, chunks of flesh are taken from the survivors arms and throats, you've got to remember the Living Dead haven't had a decent meal for ages. Director. --------- Directed by George Romero. Memorable Scenes. ----------------- Look out for the Zombie with a walking stick, also the Zombie bride, clown, ballet dancer and chef. My favourite scene is when Bub the Zombie salutes Captain Rhodes. A really sad scene is when Bub finds Frankenstein dead; this is a real tearjerker. I actually feel really sorry for Bub. Useless Information. -------------------- Real pig's intestines were used for the scene where Rhodes is ripped apart in the hallway. Unfortunately someone had left the guts out of the freezer over the weekend, and after the scene was shot the cast and crew ran away gagging. All the Zombies received the following for their time: a cool hat that said "I was a zombie in Day of the Dead", and an autographed copy of "The Dead Walk" newspaper, and one dollar. The film was actually shot in a limestone mine near Pittsburgh. George makes an appearance as a Zombie pushing a cart, he is only seen from the waist down, but can be identified by his plaid scarf, which is wrapped around his waist. The book that Dr Logan gives Bub the Zombie to play with is Steven King's novel Salem's Lot. Final Word. ----------- If you love gore and Zombies, you'll love this film. I wouldn't say it's greatest movie in the Living Dead series, but it is the goriest of the three. It paints a very black picture of what the outside world would be like if this actually happened. This film ne
ver achieved the same status as the other two, but it is a great movie that has lots of gore and action. A must for any Zombie fan.
Just as the horror genre had degenerated into a series of crappy slasher ripoffs, and his own career had dwindled to the twin plodding misfires of 'Knightriders' and 'Creepshow', George A. Romero returned to the story of the developing zombie holocaust with 'Day of the Dead', a sickening and brilliant study of the aftermath of social collapse, and a demonstration of what real horror looks like. From an absolutely stunning opening sequence on the zombie-filled streets (an abandoned newspaper, caught in the wind, screams 'THE DEAD WALK'), the action retreats to an underground military bunker where the survivors of humanity are squabbling about the chores and moaning that the one girl among them isn't putting out. So much for human nature. Three decent hearted survivors are plotting escape, while a mad scientist is performing bizarre experiments on captive zombies to discover what motivates them. A sly streak of humour runs through the movie (the scientist is all prissy comic relief, and he tries to teach his star pupil Bub to read using novels written by Romero's old friend Stephen King), but the general mood is one of morbid inevitability. With nothing much to live for, and just as keen to kill each other as the zombies are to get at them, the humans are just a time bomb, and the point at which the zombies break in hovers like the sword of Damocles. 'Day of the Dead' is one of the bloodiest legit films ever released. A man is pulled in half (yelling 'Choke on 'em' as the zombies gobble his insides), another gets his head yanked off while he's still alive, and some of the zombie variations include one pathetic beast with a lolling tongue, and no lower jaw. This is a quiet, tense horror film, and yet intercut with horror so intense it's largely beyond mainstream audiences; but for those who can stay the course, this is a magnificently pessimistic study of human frailty, and p
roof that even the most bloody of horrors can come with the widest of implications. Stunning.
As the saying goes all good thing must come to end and that is exactly what happens in Day of the Dead, George A. Romero’s truly sublime Dead trilogy closes it’s doors. Set around two years after the events of Dawn of the Day, the whole world is affected by the disease and most of the world’s population are now zombies with only a small piece of humanity remaining. This film is very different to the last two, zombie attacks are kept to a minimum, only really happening in the last half and hour, most of the film is character driven and full of dialogue, dissecting the human response of what would occur if they were actually put in this situation. Gone is the tension and terror of Night of the Living Dead and gone is the comedy and satire from Dawn of the Dead, in fact all that is last here is the gore. The film revolves around a group of remaining humans that were either scientists or soldiers that are living in the underground army bunker they occupied before the zombie outbreak, but there numbers are falling day by day, with other humans succumbing to the zombie infestation. The base was original set up after the attack to help research and destroy the zombie outbreak; the American Government set it up, when there was an American government, because the radio has been silent for a long, long time. Inside the two splits of profession are at their wits end with each other, the army simple want to go out and shoot all the zombies they can while the scientists want time to research them. The scientists had a good relationship with the last army general but after returning from a scouting mission in their helicopter to try and find other survivor they find him deceased and the new general doesn’t have the same ideas about their research. Led by this power mad general, the military decides to eliminate the scientists and escape to some zombie-free shore in the Caribbean. Romero kept the making of Day in the same theme as the ot
her two, he wrote the script, directed the movie and produced the film independently, totally bypassing the Hollywood film making style. The main failing of Day is the poor script; the film lacks a lot of the social relevance that was so inherent in the earlier films. Day seems to have little depth to it, choosing to simply portray a bad situation, yet not make much of a commentary on it. This is really out of character with much of Romero’s work. But this may not of been the case, the original script can be found on the internet and it is of epic proportions, but Romero was forced to re-write it and after reading the original script I can say he only seems to have taken the middle of the original and adapted ii to this. Romero was forced to this change by the studios sudden decision to cut his budget by about 75%, the original script had largely the same characters but they came from different background and there are a lot more character development and more importantly zombie action and gore. His original script involved an island fortress, a trained zombie army, a leader ruling over his subjects and a sense of closure to the whole zombie threat. The production company wouldn't give Romero the budget needed to complete his vision unless the movie was made to receive an R rating, but that would mean cutting corners, so Romero had to do one of two things: Cut corners to receive the appropriate budget, or rewrite the script and receive less money to make an unrated film. He chose to rewrite the script. The acting too isn’t the best we have seen in the Dead trilogy, with all of the film Romero has stuck to using mostly unknown actors and has gotten away with it, but here some of the performances aren’t up to standard. Lori Cardille is Sarah, the main character in the film who is a scientist (in the original script she was part of a gorilla group that travel by boat from island to island and stumble upon the army base), overacts a lot a
nd shouts most of her lines. Joe Pilato (who was also in Dawn of the Dead for a very short scene, he is one of the people dressed as police, escaping in the speedboat) is General Rhodes and also overacts way extreme. Then we come to Dr. Logan, the doctor who has trained a zombie to be his friend and can control him, played Richard Liberty it was a case of hamming the part up to comical values, in fact he simply just does not fit in the entire tone of this film. We also have the stereotypical Drunk Irishman and wise Jamaican with saying for every possible event. This time, the humans are mostly unpleasant, violent, insane or so noble that we can predict with utter certainty that they will survive. That brings me on to the film’s other major flaw, Bub, the ‘Friendly Zombie’. Romero always said that he felt sorry or the zombies in his film but it’s easy to see that, like Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace, Bub was only used for his comical value. At least in the original script Bub made sense, he was one of a few zombies that were trained by the army to shoot people who didn’t wear a certain colour jersey. Zombies are meant to be ruthless killers that are only on the planet to eat human flesh and so you would have no chance of being able to domesticate one to the level of calm that Bub posses in the film. One thing that hinders the movie is the endless bickering between the army dudes and the doctors. At first I perceived it as conflict and conflict is always good. But as the movie rolled on it felt like fighting for the sakes of fighting. The army dudes are way too one note: bad. You can’t reason with them and that makes for an eventually boring back and forth. But, like Dawn of the Dead, the saving grace here is Tom Savini awesome special effects. Displaying, in my opinion, the best effects he has ever done, it’s easy to see that Romero let Savini basically do what he wanted in this department. It is most
ly kept to the final half an hour but even the effect at the start when the tea, are searching for zombies and instead wake up an entire city of zombies is impressive. Every single zombie on display here is unique, not the similar blue-faced ones we got in Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Men are ripped in half, have their heads torn off, and are devoured while still living. If you love gore, you’ll love the final sequences of this film. At one point a man is ripped in half and his guts spill out, for this scene they used real pigs stomach, but unfortunately someone had unplugged the freezer they were in days before and they stank the set out. After the filming of the scene, the cast and crew involved had to run to the toilets to be sick. There is a superb 60 minute video called Scream Greats Volume 1 which is dedicated entirely to Tom Savini and the special effects he has created. The video is presented by Fangoria Magazine and is in documentary format. Tom steps through each of his movies and provides details on the special effects used. Most importantly - there is a 15 minute portion dedicated entirely to the special effects he created in Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. The information is fascinating - it provides an insight into how some of the special effects were performed - and you also come to understand what a charismatic and interesting character Tom Savini is. Add to the effects the superb musical score John Harrison treats us to and we have a winner. So while Day of the Dead isn’t the masterpiece all the fans were hoping too, it is still miles ahead of all the other zombie films on the market. We all knew it was impossible to top Dawn of the Dead, but at least Romero tried still makes a very good film, that is bleak and sad, but in the end gives us the most optimistic ending of any of the trilogy.
Living human beings are now outmumbered around 75,000 to 1 and a small group of soldiers and scientists in the middle of nowhere are running experiments to see if they can "domesticate" the hoards of zombies which have infetced the Earth. In my personal opinion, this is a very disappointing close to the epic Lving Dead trilogy brought to us by the genius of George A Romero. It is nowhere near as good as the peceeding Dawn of the Dead (quite possibly the greatest horror film ever) and lacks the certain je ne c'est qua that we got from the first two. The main problem I saw with Day of the Dead is that it seems to be very clichéd, especially when compared to Romero's other works. The head scientist with the nickname Frankenstein, the dictator-like military commanding officer and the fat loud-mouthed soldier are all examples of characters we've seen in hundreds of films over the years. I can only hope that the rumoured Twilight of the Dead will restore Romero's epic series to its former glory.
What an absolute fromagefest, it's cheesy, the budget would'nt buy a round of drinks and the acting is sub-normal. It is absolutely fantastic. These were the days when horror movies relied upon effect and story rather than £200 billion special effects. Definately the best in this George Romero series. The story is set in a (disused?) shopping mall, which slowly fills with mind-eating zombies intent on eating and revenge for god only knows what. It's a typical get the girl, kill the baddies and save the planet storyline - but is compelling if only for it's awfulness - from start to end. Get a pizza, some friends and some beer and enjoy.
A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies. The Dead have waited, but now the day has come...