Day of the Dead (1985)
Film: Day of the Dead
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Starring: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander and Joseph Pilato
I have to say that this is another masterpiece to the Dead series from writer/director George A. Romero. This one actually finished the original trilogy. This one is better than Dawn of the Dead, but that one is my favorite. To get into this review, the official synopsis is a small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.
Something this film does well that I love is delving into trying to solve the problem instead of just trying to survive. The film shifts to them needing to make an escape at the end, but these people are relatively safe to begin with. This is actually the first one to start after the world has ended as well.
To get into it, there are a few different groups of people trying to coexist. The main character is Sarah (Lori Cardille). She is part of the medical crew with Logan (Richard Liberty) who is also known as Frankenstein. Sarah is trying to find a way to reverse the infection while Logan wants to domesticate them. He is trying this with a zombie named Bub (Howard Sherman).
There is also the man who is working the radio, McDermott (Jarlath Conroy). He lives and spends most of his time with the helicopter pilot, John (Terry Alexander). They don’t really believe in what is going on here and really just trying to survive. The leader of the military unit that is protecting them dies and Rhodes (Joseph Pilato) takes over. Together with Steel (Gary Howard Klar), Rickles (Ralph Marrero) and Johnson (Greg Nicotero), they are at their wits end with no progress being made.
This actually brings me to the pacing of the film. It really gets into it. We establish the world in an interesting way with Sarah, John, McDermott and Miguel (Anthony Dileo Jr.) go out in the helicopter for survivors. They set down and call out with a bullhorn, but all it does is attract zombies. Back at the base, they learn that Rhodes is in charge and we see the progress they are trying to make. Things come to a head when the soldiers learn the truth. I never get bored and keeps me captivated all the way to amazing climax.
To help bring this to life is the great acting. I thought Cardille does a great job as the strong female lead. She pushes back against Rhodes and tries to navigate the relationship in a diplomatic way. This does cause issues with their new leader though. There is a weird relationship with Dileo and I’m not sure if they are really a couple. Their fall-out is sad. Alexander and Conroy are great in their roles. I love that they don’t think anything they are doing really matters and are ready to abandon to live a simple life. Pilato and the soldiers are great. I felt my anxiety go up as their reign of tyranny grows. Liberty is great as the mad scientist. I also have to give credit to Howard, he makes a character like a zombie sympathetic as the tension rises. The rest of the cast round out the film great for what they need.
I couldn’t get through this review without talking about the effects for the film. Tom Savini once again kills it with this film. The issue with the skin tone for Dawn is fixed. Since this is some time after what has happened, the zombies are starting to rot more. I thought that brings a bigger sense of realism. The bites and gunshots all look amazing as well. It looks so real. This film is also shot beautifully and the setting is also great.
Much like the other films in this original trilogy, the soundtrack is also something that is great. This is another one that I will listen to while I’m writing. It just fits the film perfectly and helps to build tension. The song used in the beginning is revisited quite a few times throughout the film, but you know something bad is about to happen when it is.
I would recommend seeing this film, especially if you are a fan of zombie films. You have a solid story with good acting. This one can be watched as a film alone or can be seen as part of the series. It is edited together very well to build the necessary tension. It never lags or goes into a lull at any point. The soundtrack helps with this. Savini and Nicotero did an amazing job with the effects. I would say this is the best made of the original trilogy and is great.
My Rating: 10 out of 10