Day of the Dead is a follow up film to Dawn of the Dead 1978. George A. Romero wrote and directed this 1985 American post-apocalyptic zombie horror film, which Richard P. Rubinstein produced. While none of the original characters are in the film the story follows over to show the next phase in humanity’s attempt to survive the zombie apocalypse. Almost all humans have been killed at this point and the army has taken a last stand against the hordes of zombies now walking the streets.
Growing up I had rented the ‘of the dead’ collection including night of the living dead, dawn of the dead and of course day of the dead on VHS tape, these films were the first set of true zombie movies that I had ever seen and while Dawn of the Dead is my all time favorite, back then Day of the Dead was miles ahead of the prior films in terms of visual effects making it hold a special place in my heart to this day.
With a budget of $4 million, Day of the Dead opened in Hicksville, New York on June 30, 1985, grossing $34 million worldwide. The film has also been released on many various platforms including streaming services, VHS Tape, DVD and Blu-Ray.
In Day of the Dead zombies have vastly outnumbered humans by 400,000 to 1. The zombie apocalypse has devastated the entire earth. Humans are barricaded in secure underground bunkers and barricaded in camps. Day of the Dead illustrates how far humans can go, or more appropriately how far they can fall, through its military vs. scientist conflict within a bunker under the ground.
Leading the team of scientists is Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty), along with Dr. Sarah Bowman (Lori Cardille) as they experiment to figure out how to combat the zombie virus itself.
Despite the doctors’ adamant resistance, the soldiers are headed by Captain Henry Rhodes (Joseph Pilato), the most stubborn and violent of the commanders. The army basically wants to end the research and live like a bunch of outlaws as seen in Dawn of the Dead closing scenes.
Since we are on the topic of Henry Rhodes (Joseph Pilato) here is a little fact, his character while not playing the same role, was also seen in Dawn of the Dead at the police station as a renegade police officer who is fleeing by boat to a nearby island with some other officers during the scene where flyboy reaches the police station to pick up Roger. This makes Captain Rhodes the only recurring character in the franchise to date, maybe he cleaned up his act and joined the army after the events seen in Dawn of the Dead.
The fine Dr. Logan has even been able to tame an undead named “Bub.” Nevertheless, despite these progresses, the dictatorial military commander, Capt. Rhodes, feels things are not going in the right direction given the dire situation above ground. This creates the premise for the rest of the film which contains humans vs zombies vs humans a three way battle to the death.
I find Day of the Dead to be extremely gruesome – it is notorious for being gruesome. The special effects are very intense, as a person’s guts are pulled out while they are ripped apart by feeding on the undead. A huge part of what makes Romero’s film so compelling is the way he creates such a perilous atmosphere.
Still haven’t seen the film? It is one of the best zombie films ever made, and a true master horror film. Check it out.
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