I know I should probable talk about today’s movie but I am still pretty excited from watching Sharknado: The 4th Awakens last night so I am having to fight to not talk about that. On to the subject at hand, today’s movie is the third movie in what is considered his original Dead trilogy, though the series has since been expanded on. I think I was in the 7th grade when I first saw this movie and I was rather blown away by the special effects in it. So let’s not waste time and get right into the guts of today’s movie, Day Of The Dead.
The plot: Waking from a dream while in flight, Dr. Sarah Bowman and her team are searching for survivors of the undead plague that has swept across the world. Landing their helicopter in Ft. Myers, Florida, she goes out with Private Miguel Salazar while the pilot, John, and the radio operator, William “Bill” McDermott, stay in the helicopter. Finding nothing but a horde of undead, the four head back to their base in the Everglades, Sarah notices more zombies at the perimeter fence and tells the guards to wait until nighttime to fill up the chopper, despite John’s protests to do it now in case of an emergency. Noticing a new grave, Sarah is told that Major Cooper had died that morning, leaving just 12 people at the base and explaining why the zombies were riled up at the gate. Heading down into the base, they are approached by Privates Steel and Rickles, who tell Miguel to help them collect specimens for Dr. Matthew Logan, who the army guys nicknamed Dr. Frankenstein. With Miguel overly stressed, Sarah goes to help them and is able to save Rickles when Miguel accidentally drops the pole holding the zombie. Heading back to the main area, Sarah sees Dr. Ted Fisher, Logan’s assistant, arguing with Captain Henry Rhodes, the new base commander, and Rhodes refuses to accommodate any of their request and calls a meeting for later that night. Sarah goes to see Logan and finds him experimenting on the zombies, believing that they can be domesticated, and warns him that Rhodes is not going to let him continue working without seeing results. When she sees that Logan has taken the body of Major Cooper and experimented on it, she is worried about what will happen when Rhodes finds out. At the meeting, Bill explains that why he is unable to raise anyone on the radio but will continue trying in case they do get a response. Rhodes begins to turn tyrannical in his command, threatening to have Sarah shot when she tries to leave, then threatening to shoot Steel when he doesn’t shoot Sarah. Logan arrives at the meeting and is tells Rhodes that he is working on making the zombies not willing to bite people and says he will soon be able to show Rhodes the proof he demands. As they are leaving the meeting, John warns Sarah to be careful around Rhodes, saying he and Bill don’t have to worry too much because their skills are to valuable to lose. That night, Sarah wakes up to find Miguel in her room and after kicking him out, she goes for a walk and ends up getting caught in the middle of a fight between most of the military men until Bill saves her. Bill takes her down to where he and John live and Sarah tries to convince John and Bill to help out more but John says that they are doing their respective jobs just fine and tells her that they should just work on starting society over and trying to make it better. The next day, Sarah and Ted both are hitting dead ends with their experiments but Logan has them look at his. He takes them into a viewing room and shows the Bub, a zombie that he has been working on training. Rhodes and Steel walk into the viewing room and seeing what is going on, enter the room. Rhodes pulls out a pistol to shoot Bub but stops at Logan’s insistence and watches as Bob salutes him and shows how he can remember to use objects from his past including a phone and a gun. Rhodes thinks they are wasting their time teaching zombies to do tricks but Logan explains that teaching them not to kill people is the first step in being able to survive when they are outnumbered by the undead. Sarah and some other soldiers head to the corral to catch some more zombies but when the strap breaks on the noose of the one Miguel is holding, it bites one of the soldiers, Miller, who accidentally shoots a second soldier, Johnson, as he is being bit. Sarah kills the zombie and Miguel tries killing the second zombie but ends up being bit in the arm and runs off with Sarah chasing after him while Steel kills the zombie and then shoots Miller. Miguel runs to where Bill and John live and John grabs him while Sarah knocks him out with a rock, then they work together to cut off Miguel’s arm and cauterize the wound. When Rhodes and the remaining soldiers show up to kill Miguel, Sarah says she cut off the infected area in time and a standoff occurs before Rhodes and his men finally leave. Sarah and Bill head to Logan’s lab to get some medicine for Miguel and find a tape recorder where Logan appears to be going mad along with the head of Miller, which Logan is experimenting on, and Bill decides they need to get in the helicopter and leave. Leaving the lab, they see Logan carrying a bucket towards Bub’s room and watch as he gives it to Bub as a reward. Sarah realizes what it is and turns to leave only to run into Rhodes and his men, who grab Logan and take him into the freezer room. Inside, they find the body of Johnson hacked apart and Rhodes kills Logan and then disarms Sarah, Bill, and Ted. Taking them to where John is, Rhodes kills Ted and threatens to kill Sarah and Bill unless John flies them out of there. When John says that he can’t carry all of them in the helicopter, Rhodes has Sarah and Bill placed in the zombie corral and they are forced to try and make a run for it while Steel beats on John after he knocks out Torrez. When they hear the elevator to the surface going off, Rhodes has Steel, Rickles, and go check it out but while they are gone, John manages to knock him out and then takes all of their weapons and heads into the corral to find Sarah and Bill. Meanwhile, Miguel stands close to the fence to get the zombies outside riled up, then opens the gate to let them in and as they start to attack him, he activates the elevator to lower them into the base. Rhodes and Torrez get to the elevator just in time to see the zombies coming down and Rhodes makes a run for it, leaving Steel, Rickles, and Torrez to fend for themselves. Meanwhile, Bub manages to get free and when he finds Logan’s body, he cries out in grief before he grabs one of the guns that Rhodes had disarmed from Sarah and the others. Rickles and Torrez are torn apart by the zombies and Steel runs into Bub, who attempts to shoot him but Steel ducks out of the way and attempts to shoot Bub but he is attacked by zombies and bitten so he shoots himself instead. John finally manages to find Sarah and Bill and they make their way to an emergency ladder out of the base and begin climbing out. Rhodes runs into Bub, who wounds him and as Rhodes tries to get away, he opens a door only to find some zombies waiting for him. When Rhodes turns around, Bub shoots him in the stomach and then salutes him as the zombies rip Rhodes in half. As the zombies proceed to feed on Rhodes and all of the dead bodies in the base, Sarah, Bill, and John make it to the helicopter and manage to fly off to a deserted island where there are no people or zombies to deal with.
Day Of The Dead met with positive reviews from the critics, earning an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most critics felt that while it lacked some of the aspects of the first two movies, it still stands as one of Romero’s great films. The movie had the highest budget out of the series at that point, but would wind up having the lowest box office return of the original three movies in the series, earning $34 million off of a $3.5 million budget. Several lines of dialogue from the movie have been sampled and used in a number of songs, including “M1 A1” and “Hip Albatross” by the Gorillaz and “Confessions Of A Knife (Theme Part 2)” by My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.
In terms of blood and gore, this movie is top notch but on the whole, it definitely fell a little short from the previous films. The acting was pretty good with a lot of the cast doing a great job in their roles, especially Joseph Pilato (Rhodes), Lori Cardille (Sarah), Terry Alexander (John), and Richard Liberty (Logan). The basic plot was good, with the various groups arguing about what they should do to survive in this new world, but the actual execution seemed to fall a little flat. The make-up and special effects were incredible and definitely showed how much Tom Savini had improved his craft as they looked a lot more realistic than the previous movie. A good zombie movie that can still stand up to any of the recent entries into the genre.
Rating: 4 out of 5