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139 of 160 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 22, 2004
The third--and possibly the final--entry in George Romero's DEAD series, 1985's DAY OF THE DEAD was initially panned by both critics and horror fans. Many complained that, in spite of the much improved special FX, the film did not live up to the creepiness and the literacy of the groundbreaking first film of the trilogy, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), nor was its content equal to the offbeat humor and satirical subtext of the second film, DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978). Thus, it was simply written off as another exercise in shock value. But in the time that has passed since the initial release of DAY OF THE DEAD, many fans and critics alike have grown to regard the film as a worthy entry in the series, with many claiming it has become their favorite of the three.
DAY OF THE DEAD is a claustrophobic character study set almost entirely in a secured underground military bunker. The story picks up some months after the end of DAWN OF THE DEAD, with the earth now nearly overrun by the flesh-eating corpses (one character estimates that the zombies outnumber the "normals" by circa 400,000 to 1). Military personnel have been assigned to the bunker with orders to protect and assist the group of scientists there who are experimenting on zombies in order to find a "solution" for the pandemic. However, much time has passed already with few results, and the assignment is taking its toll on the soldiers. When the Major in charge of the unit dies, the next in rank, an unbalanced Captain named Rhodes, takes over the project with the intention of shutting it all down and bugging out. The scientists resist, of course, as do the few civilians under the scientists' employ, and the resulting strife just might result in the annihilation of these last vestiges of the human race.
Contrary to initial criticism of DAY OF THE DEAD, the film's characterization is strong, literate, and fairly unidealistic, and the matter-of-fact socio-political subtext of the plot--though it might be a somewhat cliché SF theme--is actually a quite believable, hard-boiled reflection of the real-world tension between science and the military. And, yes, there is something for the gore hounds, too. Romero's long-time FX man, Tom Savini, does some of his most sophisticated work in DAY OF THE DEAD, with some of the most shocking grotesqueries saved for the final reel.
The performances in DAY OF THE DEAD are actually some of the best in the three-film series. Lori Cardille's emotive portrayal of the hard-as-nails heroine--a scientist named Sarah, who is the only woman in the enclave of "normals"--is fantastic, and Joseph Pilato creates a truly frightening portrait of a draconian martial megalomaniac. Richard Liberty is also delightful as Dr. Logan, the "mad" scientist whose experiments on the zombies are so extremely over the edge that the soldiers have nicknamed him "Frankenstein." Actor Terry Alexander delivers a standout performance as John, a civilian helicopter pilot who is also a pacifist and therefore avoids assisting the military half of their troupe as much as possible. And equally outstanding is Sherman Howard's (a.k.a. Howard Sherman) warm and sympathetic characterization of Bub, a benign zombie that Dr. Logan has "domesticated."
In short, DAY OF THE DEAD makes a worthy finale to Romero's bellwether DEAD series, despite its initial rejection by fans and critics. The socio-political subtext, while not overly subtle, is interesting and realistic, as are the characters in the film. And DAY OF THE DEAD offers up lots of cool make-up FX for the gore freaks in the audience.
The two-disc Divimax Special-Edition DVD from Anchor Bay is a must-own for Romero fans. It offers a beautifully crisp and clean digital transfer of the film--of even better quality than Anchor Bay's previous release--with two great optional feature commentaries (one that includes Romero, Savini, and actress Lori Cardille). The second disc is chock-full of other goodies, including an all new 39-minute documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew about the making of the film, a behind-the-scenes featurette, tons of trailers and TV spots, artwork galleries, and much more! Definitely worth the price of admission.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 1999
If you haven't see Day of the Dead and you're reading the viewer reviews of this film, it's presumably because you're either a zombie fan or you loved Night of the Living Dead and/or Dawn of the Dead. But you're not sure whether or not to watch this film because of the mixed reviews it received. My recommendation is that you should rent this film and watch it twice and if you liked the film buy the Anchor Bay remaster widescreen version.
The plot to Day of the Dead is simple. The world has been conquered by zombies, as seen in Day's predecessors. There are only 12 survivors left in Florida and they've taken refuge in an underground salt mine and silo. There's heated conflicts between the soldiers and the scientists and civilians and by the end, thousands of zombies pour into the silo and wreak graphic havoc.
Yes, Day of the Dead is extremely graphic and gory (It's probably the most violent and gory American horror film ever made) as most zombie films are. But this one actually has an original and interesting plot. Despite what some critics said about it, I found them to be wrong. The acting is also considerably stronger than Night or Dawn. There's also the infusion of new ideas such as an intelligent and human zombie and amputation to stop the spread of infection. The make up effects are also Tom Savini's best so don't miss the film.
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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 3, 2001
A fine horror film in its own right, but it suffers in comparison to "Dawn of the Dead". Where "Dawn" thematically succeeds on its criticism of consumerism, it's hard to find where "Day" fits in the trilogy. And George Romero himself has stated that this was only a shadow of the original "dead" grand finale he envisioned. But the good news is that maybe we'll see a another sequel some day? It's time...the world needs another Zombie film!
But no's creepy, apocalyptic nightmare that probes a primal fear, i.e. being eaten. It's quite well-acted (in a yelling and screaming sort of way) in spite of its other shortcomings. Lori Cardille and Jarlath Conroy stand out; too bad they haven't done more film work (both are very active in indie/theater work). Josef Pilato has gone on to character roles, including Dean Martin in "Pulp Fiction".
One note regarding the special effects...they're *really* disturbing, especially Sarah's field surgery upon Miguel. But people don't pull apart or break quite so easily.
It's well worth seeing. If you can still find it, buy it. The extras (including a home video "making of" documentary) are compelling.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 1999
I wasn't particularly huge fan of zombie films. I thought the idea of dead people coming back to life but walking slower than a slug was a bad idea until I watched George Romero's Living Dead series. Zombies may move slowly but there are so many of them that it's futile to try and outrun them. I've read reviews putting down Day of the Dead but I think this one is the best of the series, the best zombie film ever, and one of the best horror films ever made. This was definitely the most graphic and gory film of its time. The beginning is already quite grotesque. We see four people in a helicopter who are searching for any human beings. They stop in a city and the first thing they see is an empty street until a zombie missing half its face walks towards them. Then we see thousands of zombies pouring onto the streets. The rest of the movie takes place in a fourteen mile wide underground bunker. The world above the survivors have zombies outnumbering humans in a ratio of 400,000 to 1. What remains in the bunker are 7 soldiers, 3 scientists, a helicopter pilot, and a communications expert. All the soldiers except one want to get rid of the scientists who are trying to find ways to stop the zombie problem. The civilian team members are neutral but they tend to agree more with the scientists. All this leads to a suspensful gory conclusion which includes decapitation, eyelids being pulled back, fingers bitten off, throat rippings, a soldier being literally ripped in half, and zombies eating human flesh and guts.
I've read numerous reviews putting this film down. People are entitled to their own opinion but they seem to blame Romero mostly. They say his script was convoluted and written in haste. In actuality, he had an original script that was even better than the shooting script. You can read it on the Homepage of the Dead. Romero was originally allowed a 7 million dollar budget if he could make the film R-rated but he knew he couldn't so he had to cut the budget in half which was why he could never produce his original epic idea which would have been considered a masterpiece by everybody.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2004
I was never aware that this movie had so much negative flack. When I first saw it, it left me in a daze. I went about my life, but for a long time I just couldn't get the movie out of my head. Things like Captain Rhodes threatening Sarah at gunpoint, John's haunting philosophy about the end of the world, Bub listening to music, and the many gruesome killings, all stuck in my head long after viewing. I had seen Night of the Living Dead many times, and Dawn of the Dead once (I've seen it much more since I bought the Ultimate Edition), but Day really got to me. It's definately Romero's most professional movie, and from the look, you'd never know how low the budget was. The movie's much more serious than the previous film, and Tom Savini's flawless effects suit the vibe well. Gone are Dawn's over the top, gushing bright red blood, replaced with eerily realistic violence (see the throat ripping). Also, as much as I adore Goblin's campy music, John Harrison's depressing but beautiful score is by far the finest of the trilogy. For those who can't handle well developed characters and realistic conflict, this movie may bore you. For those who are older than 10, you'll find this to be a true masterpiece, and perhaps Romero's best film. And those last 20 minutes..... whoa.

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2007
I am extremely satisfied with the clarity of the Blu-ray edition of Day of The Dead and the sound is pumped up with the new PCM 5.1 option. By the time the DVD had reached the opening credits and "Dr. Tongue", the zombie that appears with the Day of the Dead logo, I knew I had made the right choice in purchasing this one. In the former Divimax editions it had been difficult to see darkened details such a Dr Tongue's missing maw and flicking tongue, but not now. During the commentary it is mentioned how disappointing it was to miss such detail. It is a blessing to know that there are people that still care about upgrading our zombies so that we might enjoy them to the fullest extent that technology will allow. Thank you Anchor Bay for rereleasing some true Claasics this month including Dawn of the Dead and Halloween.
The extras will thrill the fans and the new Fast Film Facts plays along with the feature with some fun info. Tom Savini's FX work is examined in one feature and you have to agree that it is some of the best work out there....pre CGI anyway.
A fun, thought provoking zombie apocalypse awaits you.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2006
There simply hasn't been a horror movie made that has since matched Romero's 1985 outing 'Day of the Dead'. It's that simple. For over 20 years, 'Day of the Dead' has been a benchmark that few films have even approached. This is why it's very difficult to believe some of the reviews that are present on Amazon regarding this film.

But such reviews are not new. When 'Day of the Dead' came out in 1985, some fans were disappointed with it, claiming that it didn't live up to the promise of 1979's 'Dawn of the dead'. This is easy to understand, when one takes into account the effect the 'Dawn of the dead' had on horror fans. That film made Romero's name, even more so than his first film and most well known 'Night of the Living Dead' from 1968. It was also a film that single-handedly inspired Italian cinema to release a whole host cheap, rip-off, zombie movies well into the 80's.

The story of 'Day of the Dead' deals with a group of survivors from the breakdown of society in the face of the zombie outbreak, initiated with 'Night of the Living Dead' and elaborated in 'Dawn of the Dead'. A scientific team, which is guarded by the military, is tasked with finding a solution to the phenomena that waits to devour them outside the gates of the military installation/missile silo that they are holed up in. Neither side are willing to work together and the increasingly uneasy tension has been ratcheted up a level, with the `promotion' of Captain Rhodes (upon the death of his superior).

Rhodes, is quite clearly a psychopath and rules the silo with an iron fist. The other soldiers in Rhodes' band are afraid to question his orders and the science team are impotent in the face of his outbursts too. Rhodes simply does not agree with the work that the science team are engaged in and at times it's hard not to agree with him. The boffin's work day and night trying to understand/reverse the zombie disease, while the soldiers sit about brooding all day and growing cannabis, to relieve the boredom of day to day existence and it's clear that with every day that passes, something is going to break. The unspoken threat of violence against Sarah, the only female member of the group is especially unsettling.

In between this tedium, members of the group venture outside the compound in the helicopter that seems to be the only method of transport. The scary opening section reveals that at times, these trips can take them as far as 100 miles along the East coast of the U.S. looking for other survivors. These trips yield little in the way of results, one is led to believe and illustrates clearly the fact that the humans are outnumbered 400.000 to 1.

Back in the silo, the science team, headed by Doctor Logan (nicknamed "Frankenstein" by the rest of the group), go about their daily business of carving up the living dead. A number of which has been "rounded up in the wild" and corralled in a safe area in the huge underground complex. This butchery is done in an attempt to better understand what makes the living dead tick and offers up some truly amazing effects, for which make-up artist Tom Savini deserved an Oscar.

When Logan isn't chopping up zombies, he is concentrating on his "star pupil", Bub. Bub is a zombie that has been responding to Logan's effort to communicate with him. Bub (Howard Sherman) is the star of the middle section of he movie and he is introduced in an effort to show that the living dead are not simply mindless eating machines. In the words of Doctor Logan, "They are us, they're just functioning less perfectly". Bub shows us that the living dead have the ability to recall certain parts of their former life. Bub, apparently, was in the military and recalls that when he meets Capt. Rhodes, who snubs him. Bub also remembers how to use firearms in a scene that has the human characters freeze in the realisation that they may be viewing the future capabilities of the living dead.

Inevitably, the boring and threatening existence of the human characters comes to an end the living dead usher in a period of chaos in the final chapter of the film. This results in more of Savini's incredible gore effects, as people are literally ripped apart by the zombie masses and another survivor enclave goes under. The series is continued in the next chapter 'Land of the dead'.

'Day of the Dead' presents an atmosphere that is grim..........really grim. In fact, there really isn't any tension releasing humor in it at all. It is oppressive and nasty, with few likeable character's.....and that's good. In my opinion, far too many modern horror movies use humor to reflect the audiences' attention...and it always fails as a device.

The despair that Romero manages to achieve is very compelling and rather unique too. It makes the viewer extremely uncomfortable throughout, even during the talky middle section. From the very chilling opening sequences to the final zombie assault, there is an atmosphere of absolute hopelessness. This is offset a little by Romero's deliberate upbeat ending. But even the upbeat ending leaves a bad taste in the mouth. There's still the despair that the world has changed forever and is not going to return to its former state.

'Day of the Dead' is an intelligent, well crafted and well written horror film, with special effects that will have you saying "how the hell did they do that?" So, the "it sucks man `cos it's boring..." brigade need not apply. This is the strength of 'Day of the Dead', but it's also one of its failings. 'Day of the Dead' requires a brain to enjoy as it is NOT a slam bang shoot 'em up with ditzy dialogue to fill in the gore scenes. This is why a number of "horror fans" (and others) reject it. They just don't want to deal with the seriousness of the subject, if one can call a zombie movie `serious'. 'Day of the Dead', like all of Romero's zombie movies is really a social commentary dressed up as a horror film. Its primary concern deals with the inability of humanity to work together to help each other solve common problems. The middle section is admittedly rather dialogue based, but this dialogue is never boring and serves to illustrate why the living dead feel the need to chomp down on warm flesh. Doctor Logan allows us to understand why the dead are ravenous, even though one of his specimens clearly displays that they can take no nourishment from what they eat.

If 'Dawn of the Dead' has the best script of Romero's movies, 'Day of the Dead' is probably the best acted zombie movie of the 70's/80's batch. Lori Cardille, who plays Sarah, is especially good as a strong female character who is on the verge of a complete breakdown and the late Richard Liberty who plays Doctor Logan offers a great "mad scientist" performance.

If some horror fans are opposed to 'Day of the Dead' because they think it's too talky, then they cannot be upset by the truly amazing makeup/gore effects of Tom Savini, which are really the star of the show. Savini produces effects that really are second to none in zombie/horror movies. He pushes the boat out on 'Day of the Dead' and showcases his best work to date. In fact, I will go so far as to say, it is the best of Romero's zombie "quad" and easily the best and most intelligent zombie movie available.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2006
Of all Zombie movies, I liked this one the best for it's grim portrayel of a world gone mad and over run by blood thirsty rotting corpses. I think the sub-plot/story of this film is based apon our current prison system if zombies=criminals. The underground shelter has become what is left of society, or at least what these solitary survivors percieve as the last fragment of society. They keep several zombies in a corral, like cattle or a prison of sorts if you will for the zombies (criminals) every day more and more of the zombies are captured and put into this prison. Let's say that Dr.Logan (Frankenstein) is a bleeding heart liberalist with an idea to rehabillitate the zombies, he thinks they can be 'tamed' or domesticated. He knows that with the zombie population at 125,000 to every one human that the war against them is futile. I think this represents a huge problem with the prison system, the war against criminals will never end, every time you imprison one there is always one or tow more to take their place, and theres definately not enough room for them all, and many prisoners today are serving long pointless sentences for non-violent crimes and some are in for minor crimes. Many of these people could be rehabillitated and turned back into society as useful members of society. Nobody wants to pay for this rehabillitation however so we lock them in a room for several years hoping when they are released they will be so afraid of returning to jail they wont re-offend. However this is not the case as after release from prison they are not rehabillitated for their crimes and will most likely re-offend. Lets say Sarah and her Lab Partner are open minded yet sceptical as Logans theories are quite sound but they do not have the time and the resources to go along with his plan. THe government doesnt even want to imprison them at all, the government represented by Cpt.Rhodes and his militia. They want them to simply drop dead or execute them all, but as said before they are hopelessly outnumbered. Much like the government they desire a quick cheap easy safe way for the problem to be solved which is insane as it is not realistic.

The whirlybird pilot and radio-man could care less either way, however they dream of a peaceful utopia away from the problem to start civilization all over again from scratch. By their philosophy theyd just rather ignore the problem at large. But if they're not part of the solution they're part of the problem. I think Dr.Logan was on to something briliant when he tamed 'Bub' and taught him how to use a pistol...Dr.Logan quite possibly could have, given the time he needed, tamed and trained several zombies, armed them with fire-arms (or other weapons) and sent them out to kill other zombies. They'd have no opposition as the other zombies would never have seen them as a threat.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2007
"Day Of The Dead" is, without a doubt, one of the GORIEST films ever made. The premise is pretty simple. A medical team, and a military unit are holed up in an underground missile silo, occaisionally flying a helicopter up and down the coast, looking for fellow survivors, while unbelievably gruesome experiments are being performed by one of the medical personnel on captured "specimen" zombies, in an attempt at finding why the dead are walking. The soldiers just want to shoot them in the head, as that's all that has been proven to stop them; the problem? The zombies outnumber the living by at least 400,000 to one. There's just too many. With a way to modify their behavior, maybe the survivors can stand a chance, but the odds are slim to none of such an insane idea working.

Of course, tensions mount. The claustrophobic living conditions, the bleak atmosphere, and physical and mental strain are taking a very heavy toll, as hope is quickly vanishing. They just want to get out of there, but, as Doctor Logan says, "...where would you go?" People critical of this movie say it has too slow a start, but I say no. The script focuses mainly on how these people are coping, and they aren't coping very well. Detractors say the dialogue has too much shouting, but I wonder how these people themselves would act in such egregious, horrible conditions. No, it is a very well-written script, albeit not George Romero's original one, which everyone says is far superior. It is a very tense screenplay, depicting, in what I would call a very realistic scenario. Not the world being overrun with walking dead, of course, but imagine a somewhat diverse group of people who really can't stand one another, being trapped in a situation where they must cooperate, but just can't anymore. A bloodbath is just one bad day away.

The special make-up effects are among Tom Savini's best work. The zombies in this installment are more decayed looking, which ties in with how the story unfolds in the series. In "Night..." most of them look somewhat ordinary, and the black and white film just makes it eerie. In "Dawn... (the original)" Most of the undead are just discolored, with a few really nasty ones, as time has taken its toll. In this installment, in 1985, seventeen years after the contageon has started, most of them are in the final stages of post mortem rot. It really is what the world would be if such an awful thing could take place.

One little subtlety in the script, that looks like an inconsistency, but isn't, would be when Rhodes decides to start executing people. The people he shoots do not get back up. And one of the soldiers suicides after being bitten in the shoulder by a zombie. He doesn't get back up, and the hordes of undead feast on his carcass. These deaths happened underground, not from infected zombie bites. Keeping in mind, the reason for this outbreak was in "Night..." in 1968, and the reason was some kind of radioactive fallout from a contaminated space probe. The air above ground is contaminated. Hence, underground, and no reanimation. Plus, two of the deaths were from gunshots to the head, guaranteeing no reanimation.

It is a simple, yet very complex story, and some people don't get the ending. It's simple, really. The first scene (spoiler here) is a dream sequence, and after all the nightmarish events of the story, the last remaining characters flee to an island somewhere out in the ocean, and apparently one fell asleep, just to wake up on the island. Physical exhaustion. The last part of the escape, jumping to the island, is nothing more that a time-lapse in the script.

Yes, this is a very good movie of this type, one that I feel is underappreciated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2002
Day of the Dead in my opinion is quite simply: The Greatest Horror Movie The World's Ever Known! It is unquestionablely better than Dawn of the Dead! Yeah, I said it! Even the "Lord of the Modern Zombie", himself, born and bred in New York, George Andrew Romero said so!
The third and(for the time being) final entry in the ever popular, seminal,"Dead Trilogy" is the most compelling, most incisive and just plain most horrifying and graphic film in the zombie saga.
It is a dark and dreary, ultra-bloody tale about what-might-be the last surviving members of the human race, consisting of civilans and army soldiers who take refuge in an underground bunker; fomerly a government storage facility.
From the start feelings between the civilans and the military men
are volatile. Everybody has came down with a severe case of cabin fever. All stressed out souls inside the subterranean dwellings are powder kegs ready to go BOOM!
Things within the group go from very bad to truly disasterous once the army captain, named Rhodes(played masterfully maniacal by Josef Pilato) decides to throw everyone into a dictatorship, with him being the man brandishing the iron hand.
Of course the civilans will not let the tyrannical actions of Rhodes go unchallenged, and that's where the head ripping, eyes gouging, guts spillin, throat tearing, brain blowing, flesh eating, torso pulling, carnage(courtesy of Tom "The Gore Genius" Savini) begins!
Day of the Dead is an absorbing allegory about man's ihumanity towards his fellow man, even in adverse times when he needs
his fellow man the most.
It is about what happens when all sense of decency and rules of cilvilaty are flushed right down the freakin' toliet, inducing people to indulge in the savage, primal urges which lurks deeply within.
Throughout the Dead Trilogy Romero has brilliantly demonstrated the irony of how as the saga progresses the once frightening zombies have become less scary and intimidating;in fact you even begin to feel empathetic to their plight. This idea culminates in "Day", personified in the picture's main zombie Bub.
While on the other hand, the automatic sympathy showered upon the humans at the genisis of the Dead trilogy, soon descends to apathy by the end of the series.
By the time "Day" arrives mankind is no longer the cowering, confused, panic stricken animal that is running scared in Night of the Living Dead, but a vile, heartless, selfish, boorish, predjudiced, power-hungry, rabid dog which needs to be put to sleep.
This film of films is clearly George A. Romero at his finest. His writing has never been more cerebral. Visually he was at the top of his game. Acting-wise this was as good as it gets, Romero had selected a genuinely talanted cast who all gave top notch, indelible performances. Particularly, Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Sherman Howard and(ladies and gents one more
time)Josef Pilato.
Nearly twenty years after the fact, the groudbreaking, insanely gruesome FX amazingly still stands the test of time.
John Harrison's score is a beautifully unique, innovative, pieces of profound music.
As much as I would love to see another addition to the Romero Dead saga, I would be just as happy if Mr.Romero decides to when it's all said and done, to leave his Dead Trilogy--a trilogy.
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