Day of the Dead picks up the story of the zombie apocalypse after the events that happened in both Night of The Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. However, all three movies are stand-alone movies and you don’t have to know anything to enjoy them. And while the first two were more classic creature movies, in this one we will learn more about the creature itself. We will learn more about zombies, what makes them tick, what motivates their actions, and more. And that sounded like music to my ears the first time I read about this movie, but more about that later.
There’s no doubt about the fact that Day of the Dead is still one of the best zombie movies ever. After all, George Romero himself, the father of the genre, said that this is his favorite movie (original trilogy). We all found out about zombies one way or another and eventually sought out the franchise that started it all. So, you’ve either seen this movie several times now or haven’t seen it at all. In that case, I do recommend you start your Of The Dead experience right here. From this perspective, the first two movies might be too outdated but this one is fucking timeless.
I have to admit that I became a fan of zombie movies quite late in my movie-watching career. I think that 28 Days Later was the movie that turned me on to this genre although I have seen many zombie movies before. It’s just that they didn’t interest me that much. I was young and foolish, so forgive my naïve ways. Just a couple of years later I saw Land of the Dead that fucking blew me away and I was in all the way! What followed is a decade-long obsession with zombie movies that shows no signs of waning.
The Zombie apocalypse came and went, decimating the human population. Now, the walkers roam the streets of every city in the world freely. There are survivors though and we find a group of them in a helicopter, trying to find more of the lucky ones. They’re led by Dr. Sarah Bowman and are all living in an underground military bunker. She’s running experiments, trying to figure out how to overcome this new plague while the others are struggling to remain sane. Soon, things will start to get worse and worse.
The reason why you’re reading about Day of the Dead, now a cult classic, on Rabbit Reviews is very simple. This movie has everything I would want in a movie. It’s a single-location, graphic, intense, thought-provoking zombie movie, a fucking perfect storm. Now, Romero had bigger plans for it with an above-ground complex, more zombies, and a lot of different things. However, he didn’t have the money to do that, not until he shot Land of the Dead.
Speaking of money, the studios offered him a deal, he could get $7 million if he shot an R-Rated movie with limits on gore. Or he could shoot a $3.5 million movie with no limits on gore. The man made the right decision is all I’m going to say. You really can’t tell this because of the clever writing and wonderful special effects done by Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini. Although it’s the things that you don’t see that fascinated me the most in this movie.
I think it’s the first psychological zombie movie, exploring the mental health of the survivors still under unrelenting stress. You might think of it as a war movie. You know those frontline war movies about soldiers under huge pressure just cracking and going crazy. Well, this is the same only with zombies. And all of them are in this huge fucking bunker! You know what that means, claustrophobia and that sense of fucking dread.
This is a theme we’re going to see a lot of in all future zombie movies but Day of the Dead was the first. Also, the way the story progresses is just so good. We open with a helicopter ride and these wide-open shots only to find ourselves on a military base. And the soldiers growing marijuana is a nice little touch. Quite realistic too. From there, the movie takes us into the bowels of the facility and things start escalating.
The movie also touches upon the difference between the rational and scientific approach to problems and the tribal, outdated one. It proves that zombies might not be our biggest concern if the apocalypse happens.
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Cast: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy, Anthony Dileo Jr., Richard Liberty
Fun Facts: Blood and guts you see in the scene where one of the main characters dies (you’ll know which one) are real. They got them from the local pig slaughterhouse.