Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things I Watch ‘Em So You Don’t Have To

Day Of The Dead

Day Of The Dead

Denez McAdoo

Day of the Dead1985director – George A. Romero “Once again, the dead have their day.”102 min – unrated

George Romero’s …of the Dead series, beginning with Night of the Living Dead, following with Dawn of the Dead, and then concluding with (for now) this lost gem, Day of the Dead (apparently zombies have little regard for chronological order), must be commended, if nothing else, for putting black lead characters in such kick-ass roles.

But where as Night’s Ben (Duane Jones) gives both the living and the dead beat-downs in equal portions, and Dawn’s Peter (Ken Foree) is a total pimp, Day’s John (Terry Alexander) is a bit more content with just hangin’ out, drinking some cavarsia, and smokin’ some ganja than dealing with any of that crazy zombie business. And who would blame him? When the human population is over run by zombies 400,000 to one – well then, every one might as well just get CRUNK! Oh yeah, and Romero practically invented the zombie genre with this series – or at least the non-voodoo zombies, which was good because those tended to be a tad on the blatantly racist side. But for what ever reason Day of the Dead is often seen as the weakest in Romero’s …of the Dead series, which is really unfortunately because Day tackles some of the more compelling aspects of getting your derriere nibbled on by ravenous undead. Maybe it’s the films dark grittiness, compared to Night’s clear, warm black and white. Maybe it’s the lack of comedic relief, compared to Dawn’s almost slapstick zombie helicopter decapitation.

Maybe it’s just that the gore effects have been pumped up and made so much more realistic and then dumped into your lap in such a repulsively graphic way, people had a hard time holding down their corndogs. Or maybe it’s just because there’s too much damn talking, but whatever the reason, Day of the Dead remains to be a sorely underrated film. The plot seems to be a rip off of 2002’s 28 Days Later (or, wait, was it the other way around?) as it follows the internal struggles of humans at the point at which man is pushed to the limits of survival. A group of humans have found refuge from the planet of zombies outside, by garrisoning themselves down in an old mine shaft.

But the group is split into two factions – one is made up of the scientists and civilian, probably all hippies, the other a group of military numskulls, lead by their fascist leader Capt. Rhodes. And while Rhodes and his henchmen are total pricks, they accuse the scientists of wasting their valuable time and resources by trying to perform experiments to tame and civilize the zombies. This is where the film really asks the viewer to confront a moral dilemma: zombies – maybe they want our brains, but still, are they really all that bad? Dr. Logan has managed to condition one zombie in particular, the adorably named Bub, to show signs that deep down in that blood-lust filled, cold, cadaverous heart, zombies still like classical music and chatting on the telephone.

But Logan is unimpressed with simply proving that zombies have a remnant of human memory, especially in light of the fact that there is still 399,999 more zombies outside that are just waiting to make sushi out of their faces. Obviously this leads to a communication breakdown, and somebody accidentally lets the zombies into the mineshaft. Whoops. This is why George Romero is the undisputed king of the zombies. Aside from inventing the damn things, he is not simply content to just rehash the same idea, like, lets say, most every other zombie film ever made. Focusing on a possibility of human aspects to the undead: genius! Not only that, but Romero knows how to deliver the goods, i.e., appropriately splattered intestines. Word on the street, ok fine, on the Internet chat rooms, is that Romero currently has a new addition to the series in production called Land of the Dead and should come out sometime this year. In the past decade there have been two remakes of Romero’s films, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, but they’re both stinkers so don’t watch them.