Movie Review: Day of the Dead (1985)
It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a movie from director George A. Romero, so why not this one? For a long time this seemed like it’d be the last of Romero’s dead “series.” While he eventually came back with more offerings, many people consider this to be his last great zombie film, and while it’s not as famous as Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead, many horror fans seem to think it’s every bit as good.
And why not? It has an interesting setting in which zombies outnumber the living 400,000 to 1, forcing humans to largely live underground.
And it’s got some amazing makeup effects from Tom Savini. His makeup in Dawn of the Dead was a bit inconsistent. The zombies didn’t look very good, and I assume that’s because they were working on a very small budget and tight filming schedule, but the gore effects actually looked great when people were getting ripped apart and all that. Here, everything’s pretty great.
The movie even features a sympathetic zombie named Bub. The character works surprisingly well as someone people are trying to rehabilitate and make human again. It’s a little silly, but it’s one of the best things about the movie, too.
Day of the Dead also features perhaps Romero’s best remembered human characters in Captain Henry Rhodes (Joseph Pilato). He’s a very memorable villain, and it’s overacting at its finest.
As with Night of the Living Dead, the story is very bleak, taking place in a world in which almost all of humanity has lost hope, but we do meet a few characters trying to change that. Our lead is Dr. Sarah Bowman (Lori Cardille), who is researching the cause of the outbreak. There is also Dr. Matthew Logan (Richard Liberty), who tries to teach Bub (Sherman Howard) how to be human again.
The movie has some great human conflict with the military and scientists unable to understand each other. That’s where most of the drama comes in; there isn’t that much zombie action until the last act.
It’s a pretty good movie overall. It’s probably every bit as good as Dawn of the Dead, but I don’t think any zombie movie could be as good as Night of the Livign Dead.