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Day of the Dead (1985)
Movie Review by The Insane Old One

Day of the Dead (1985) Greetings, children!

I'd like to take a little of your time to plumb the depths of something close to my cold heart...the undead. What better way than to discuss the original "Day of the Dead", the masterpiece of the master himself?

George Romero stated in an interview that fans of his films that like "Day of the Dead" the best are the real "trolls"...however, he also goes on to say that this has become HIS own favorite of his zombie mythos...

...I suppose I'm honored to be considered a troll by the Head Troll himself:)

I'm a huge fan of the Romero zombie films; like many others, I consider his canon to be the only 'true' one, and whereas I greatly enjoyed films like "Twenty-Eight Days Later", "I Am Legend", and even the remake of "Dawn of the Dead", it's Romero's vision of the shuffling, slow, but single-minded and devotedly determined undead that I embrace as what zombies offer to horror mythology.

Although the other films he has made of his apocalyptic universe hold high places in my regard, it is this entry that I consider to be my favorite. I'm not sure if it's because I feel this one to be the darkest, most bleak outlook offered in the series, or because to me it proposes the most realistic look into what would be the total breakdown not just of society, but of the moral and ethical fiber of mankind itself. This film explores how survival would become so much of a burden, even in relative safety, that the only true peace to be found would be by joining the ranks of the tendon-munchers; for man, in his ceaseless efforts to exert control and dominance, devolves into a creature far more nefarious than the threat that brought his true nature to light.

Now that my philosophical evaluation is finally out of the way, on to the film itself.

The acting is not the best to be found in cinema, to be sure, but the performances are effective, and you find your sympathies going to where they need to be. Lori Cardille is convincing as an angst-ridden woman among a group of largely atavistic men, struggling to maintain her strength and dedicated in her desire to find an answer to the madness and hopefully, find a cure. Joe Pilato, joyously over-the-top, is the real nemesis in the film, representing the last vestiges of the military complex, full of his perceived personal power as it corrupts him to his core. The supporting cast is equally over-the-top in many cases, but piece together a fine ensemble group and support the story well (after all, in the same situation, who are any of us to say that our own emotional breakdowns may not well make us exhibit some 'over-the-top' behavior?). Of special note is the performance (and a tip of the hat to the writer) of Terry Alexander in a scene where several characters gather and postulate the meaning of the whole mess...thoughtful commentary of a fictional situation that has great bearing on humanity as a whole and the direction it's headed.

And then, we have Bub...there's so much underlying depth in this character, you have to plumb it yourself to really understand; so I'll only say that in this film, he's the torch-bearer of what you humans would like to think humanity represents, very, VERY ironically.

The setting, shot in an old limestone mine, is claustrophobic and foreboding, and ironic in how it suggests mankind has come full circle, hiding in the ground whilst the dominant species rules the surface.

Finally, the effects: be warned, if you haven't seen this one, the gore (most especially the final twenty minutes or so) in this flick is some of the most unforgiving ever committed to film. Effects genius Tom Savini positively outdid himself on this one, and it's definitely NOT for young kids or the squeamish. I personally do not believe it's gore done for gore's sake; on the contrary, I think it contributes to the films overall climate of how we as humans decline in our humanity, eventually winding up as slaughter for the masses.

Again, my vote for the very best of Romero's zombie films.

Keep that bug-out bag stocked, kiddies!

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