aka: Day of the Living Dead, Zombie 2
Director: George Romero
Starring: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy, Anthony Dileo Jr.
The dead have waited. The day has come.
The zombies are now in the majority and the few humans that are still alive has gone underground to survive. A group of scientists, with help and protection from a group of military personnel are staying at a fortified military base in Florida trying to figure out what has caused the zombie apocalypse and what can be done to turn things normal again.
Day of the Dead is the third and final movie in Romero’s original Dead Trilogy, or Trilogy of the Dead if you will. It was not an easy project for Romero and the budget got cut in half during pre-production, making him have to scale down the project a lot. Most of the movie takes place inside of the military bunker, keeping the humans isolated from the horrible threats that lurk outside, just like the first two movies.
Day deals with how humans cope with the destruction of society and how they can manage in this new world. It shows how zombies can be taught how to behave, while its us the humans who struggle with containing our animal instincts when things go bad. It’s a much darker tone than Dawn and also more depressing which is suitable considering the world as we know it has basically ended. I’m guessing this was only part of the reason why it was not well received upon release since in the mid 80’s horror had a lot of fun injected into it and something like this was not for the masses at the time.
The film also has the reputation of being the worst of the original three Dead movies by Romero and seems to be underappreciated by a lot of horror fans. I think it is a movie that gets better every time you see it and if you are one of those who feel like it’s lacking a lot, then try to rewatch it and perhaps you will appreciate it more today than when you originally saw it.
One thing I didn’t care much for was some of the characters. Joseph Pilato (Pulp Fiction, Wishmaster) as major Rhodes didn’t do much for me. The character was over the top and I guess that was the point, but I feel it could have been better if they had toned him down a little. The same can be said about some of his army buddies, I think the movie would have benefited more if we also saw some good sides of the supposedly “bad side”. Lori Cardille as our main hero Sarah was pretty good. She came off as a strong and complex character and is perhaps the best female character in this series at that point.
Tom Savini and his crew was once again responsible for the zombies and they outdid themselves this time. The zombies look better than they did in Night and Dawn and the gore is disgusting and great. Jack Harrison (Effects, Creepshow) did a great job with the score. This trilogy might have one of the most effective soundtracks in horror history in terms of making the music enhance the movies.
And of course the biggest star of the movie is our perhaps favorite zombie of all time – Bub. He is the zombie that shows us that they can adjust and become civilized with training and he is played so well by Sherman Howard. I do not think Al Pacino could have done what he did, so I say he was robbed at the Oscars that year! He became a horror icon and it’s well deserved. He is truly an awesome zombie and it does say a lot about the humans characters when you start to feel for the zombie and root for him.
George Romero delivers once again a great zombie movie and it’s so fun to see how this original trilogy went from the start of the outbreak to the end of it. I say the humans have lost and long live the zombies. Thank you Romero.