"The Darkest Day of Horror the World Has Ever Known"
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 03/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The third--and possibly the final--entry in George Romero's DEAD series, 1985's DAY OF THE DEAD was initially panned by both critics and horror fans. Many complained that, in spite of the much improved special FX, the film did not live up to the creepiness and the literacy of the groundbreaking first film of the trilogy, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), nor was its content equal to the offbeat humor and satirical subtext of the second film, DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978). Thus, it was simply written off as another exercise in shock value. But in the time that has passed since the initial release of DAY OF THE DEAD, many fans and critics alike have grown to regard the film as a worthy entry in the series, with many claiming it has become their favorite of the three.DAY OF THE DEAD is a claustrophobic character study set almost entirely in a secured underground military bunker. The story picks up some months after the end of DAWN OF THE DEAD, with the earth now nearly overrun by the flesh-eating corpses (one character estimates that the zombies outnumber the "normals" by circa 400,000 to 1). Military personnel have been assigned to the bunker with orders to protect and assist the group of scientists there who are experimenting on zombies in order to find a "solution" for the pandemic. However, much time has passed already with few results, and the assignment is taking its toll on the soldiers. When the Major in charge of the unit dies, the next in rank, an unbalanced Captain named Rhodes, takes over the project with the intention of shutting it all down and bugging out. The scientists resist, of course, as do the few civilians under the scientists' employ, and the resulting strife just might result in the annihilation of these last vestiges of the human race.Contrary to initial criticism of DAY OF THE DEAD, the film's characterization is strong, literate, and fairly unidealistic, and the matter-of-fact socio-political subtext of the plot--though it might be a somewhat cliché SF theme--is actually a quite believable, hard-boiled reflection of the real-world tension between science and the military. And, yes, there is something for the gore hounds, too. Romero's long-time FX man, Tom Savini, does some of his most sophisticated work in DAY OF THE DEAD, with some of the most shocking grotesqueries saved for the final reel.The performances in DAY OF THE DEAD are actually some of the best in the three-film series. Lori Cardille's emotive portrayal of the hard-as-nails heroine--a scientist named Sarah, who is the only woman in the enclave of "normals"--is fantastic, and Joseph Pilato creates a truly frightening portrait of a draconian martial megalomaniac. Richard Liberty is also delightful as Dr. Logan, the "mad" scientist whose experiments on the zombies are so extremely over the edge that the soldiers have nicknamed him "Frankenstein." Actor Terry Alexander delivers a standout performance as John, a civilian helicopter pilot who is also a pacifist and therefore avoids assisting the military half of their troupe as much as possible. And equally outstanding is Sherman Howard's (a.k.a. Howard Sherman) warm and sympathetic characterization of Bub, a benign zombie that Dr. Logan has "domesticated."In short, DAY OF THE DEAD makes a worthy finale to Romero's bellwether DEAD series, despite its initial rejection by fans and critics. The socio-political subtext, while not overly subtle, is interesting and realistic, as are the characters in the film. And DAY OF THE DEAD offers up lots of cool make-up FX for the gore freaks in the audience.The two-disc Divimax Special-Edition DVD from Anchor Bay is a must-own for Romero fans. It offers a beautifully crisp and clean digital transfer of the film--of even better quality than Anchor Bay's previous release--with two great optional feature commentaries (one that includes Romero, Savini, and actress Lori Cardille). The second disc is chock-full of other goodies, including an all new 39-minute documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew about the making of the film, a behind-the-scenes featurette, tons of trailers and TV spots, artwork galleries, and much more! Definitely worth the price of admission."
Echo | Western Hemisphere | 11/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A fine horror film in its own right, but it suffers in comparison to "Dawn of the Dead". Where "Dawn" thematically succeeds on its criticism of consumerism, it's hard to find where "Day" fits in the trilogy. And George Romero himself has stated that this was only a shadow of the original "dead" grand finale he envisioned. But the good news is that maybe we'll see a another sequel some day? It's time...the world needs another Zombie film!But no matter...it's creepy, apocalyptic nightmare that probes a primal fear, i.e. being eaten. It's quite well-acted (in a yelling and screaming sort of way) in spite of its other shortcomings. Lori Cardille and Jarlath Conroy stand out; too bad they haven't done more film work (both are very active in indie/theater work). Josef Pilato has gone on to character roles, including Dean Martin in "Pulp Fiction". One note regarding the special effects...they're *really* disturbing, especially Sarah's field surgery upon Miguel. But people don't pull apart or break quite so easily.It's well worth seeing. If you can still find it, buy it. The extras (including a home video "making of" documentary) are compelling."
Horror fans should seriously consider watching this film
Michael R Gates | 08/01/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you haven't see Day of the Dead and you're reading the viewer reviews of this film, it's presumably because you're either a zombie fan or you loved Night of the Living Dead and/or Dawn of the Dead. But you're not sure whether or not to watch this film because of the mixed reviews it received. My recommendation is that you should rent this film and watch it twice and if you liked the film buy the Anchor Bay remaster widescreen version.The plot to Day of the Dead is simple. The world has been conquered by zombies, as seen in Day's predecessors. There are only 12 survivors left in Florida and they've taken refuge in an underground salt mine and silo. There's heated conflicts between the soldiers and the scientists and civilians and by the end, thousands of zombies pour into the silo and wreak graphic havoc.Yes, Day of the Dead is extremely graphic and gory (It's probably the most violent and gory American horror film ever made) as most zombie films are. But this one actually has an original and interesting plot. Despite what some critics said about it, I found them to be wrong. The acting is also considerably stronger than Night or Dawn. There's also the infusion of new ideas such as an intelligent and human zombie and amputation to stop the spread of infection. The make up effects are also Tom Savini's best so don't miss the film."
Michael R Gates | 06/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Day of the Dead is more talky than its predecessors, but what the characters have to say are usually interesting. I've read a lot of comments about a lack of likable characters. That's not really true, since you'll find plenty to admire about the film's two lead characters, Sarah and John, as well as Billy, the electronics expert. Some of the film's best moments involve them talking about what should be done in the future and what hope is left.This is director George Romero's last zombie film to date, and it's easily one of the best, at least as good as Dawn of the Dead, or so I felt. Lucio Fulci's Zombie is incredibly overrated, and so dull, but Day of the Dead makes for compelling viewing. Let's face it, anybody curious about this movie will wonder about the zombie action. I'm glad to say that I felt that Day of the Dead had the best zombie action I have ever seen. There isn't as much of it as in Dawn, but the film's last 20 minutes are absolutely nonstop, crosscutting between two different groups as they try to escape the underground silo while hundreds of zombies surround them from all corners. This sequence is absolutely heart-pounding and will have you nailed to your seat. It's also gory as heck, featuring decapitations, bloody head sprays from gun shots, as well as a man getting ripped in half. Intense, this definitely is.This may be a little too unpleasant for some viewers, even for those who liked Dawn. The underground setting is dark and dank, and will turn off many people, but for those who like a compelling look at an intriguing situation and intense zombie action should find Day of the Dead worth watching."
The absolute best horror film of the eighties
Echo | 05/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I wasn't particularly huge fan of zombie films. I thought the idea of dead people coming back to life but walking slower than a slug was a bad idea until I watched George Romero's Living Dead series. Zombies may move slowly but there are so many of them that it's futile to try and outrun them. I've read reviews putting down Day of the Dead but I think this one is the best of the series, the best zombie film ever, and one of the best horror films ever made. This was definitely the most graphic and gory film of its time. The beginning is already quite grotesque. We see four people in a helicopter who are searching for any human beings. They stop in a city and the first thing they see is an empty street until a zombie missing half its face walks towards them. Then we see thousands of zombies pouring onto the streets. The rest of the movie takes place in a fourteen mile wide underground bunker. The world above the survivors have zombies outnumbering humans in a ratio of 400,000 to 1. What remains in the bunker are 7 soldiers, 3 scientists, a helicopter pilot, and a communications expert. All the soldiers except one want to get rid of the scientists who are trying to find ways to stop the zombie problem. The civilian team members are neutral but they tend to agree more with the scientists. All this leads to a suspensful gory conclusion which includes decapitation, eyelids being pulled back, fingers bitten off, throat rippings, a soldier being literally ripped in half, and zombies eating human flesh and guts.I've read numerous reviews putting this film down. People are entitled to their own opinion but they seem to blame Romero mostly. They say his script was convoluted and written in haste. In actuality, he had an original script that was even better than the shooting script. You can read it on the Homepage of the Dead. Romero was originally allowed a 7 million dollar budget if he could make the film R-rated but he knew he couldn't so he had to cut the budget in half which was why he could never produce his original epic idea which would have been considered a masterpiece by everybody."