“This is a great big 14 mile tombstone! With an epitaph on it that nobody gonna bother to read.”
Story: The dead are up and about. Where’ya gonna go to keep safe? How about an underground Army storage facility? But better make sure you aren’t sharing the space with frakkin ijits going stir crazy, total wussies, and zombies who are “learning”. Because if you are? Rest in peace.
Scares: Quite a few, even though the film is 80s-tastic and I know the story by heart. But what’s truly chilling is how the soldiers break down and turn into a Lord of the Flies tribe.
Splat factor: ROMERO. ZOMBIES. Need I say more?
Closing scene “shocker”?: Nup. In fact, you could almost say it’s a happy ending. Almost.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: The third in Romero’s Dead series, after Night of and Dawn. A straight-to-DVD Day remake hit in 2008.
Trick or Treat?: A definite Treat. Why? All the things. Incredible FX, pretty damn good acting for a horror sequel, the evolution of the zombie mythology, and, of course, Bub.
Romero picks up from PA for this film, and heads to Florida. (BTW, love the alligator at the bank.) Themes of military incompetence, and the level of acceptable scientific research are in your face, thanks to plenty of talky-talk scenes.
You can see where 21st century zombie movies get their best stuff – zombies clawing at chain link, survivors in/looking for bunker-like areas, and the idea that structured government melts after the Zombpocalypse.
And you can’t ask for a better FX crew: Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero (in one of his first gigs!), and Howard Berger. Day of the Dead is (in)famous for the helicopter decapitation, and the human pull-apart death at the film’s climax.
And let’s not forget Day has a kickass hero, Sarah, played in full-80s gal hero mode by Lori Cardille. With Ripley, Sarah Connor, and this Sarah, these ladies are my 80s Kickass Gals Triumvirate. Sarah is competent, knowledgeable and brave. Her opposite is the power hungry nutjob Captain Rhodes, played with sinister malice by Joseph Pilato.
Sure, the dialogue is a bit clunky. And yes, a few scenes feel like a rush job; maybe due to the low budget? But Day is top-notch zombie horror, and a classic of the genre. A definite must watch for every horror fan.
Score: 4.5 out of 5 pumpkins.