Day of the Dead (DOD) may well be one of the best zombie film ever. At least it’s one of my all-time favorites! DOD is the third zombie offering from the one and only George Romero who basically invented the modern zombie genre single-handedly with Night of the Living Dead (1968). DOD take place sometime after Dawn of the Dead (1978). The story line involves a group of military personnel and scientist who are living in an underground bunker while the world around them is overrun with zombies. The setting is perfect because it creates a claustrophobic feeling which Romero exploits to its fullest effect. Most of the humans are one step short or a nervous break down and sometimes it’s hard to tell who is the greater menace: the zombies or the humans! Brilliant!
The scientists in this film are experimenting on the zombies, trying to figure out what makes them tick with the hope they can rehabilitate them. The star of this show is Sherman Howard who plays a zombie named Bub. His performance in this film is astonishing. He is, in my opinion, the BEST ZOMBIE EVER! The way he embodies the character is nearly flawless. He makes the audience care for Bub in a way that makes us want to shoot some of the humans and save the zombie!
The human cast is a bit cliched but they serve their purpose. The exception to this is Lori Cardille, the daughter of Bill Cardille who hosted a weekly double feature monster fest in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Lori’s character, Sarah, brings lots of emotional depth to the table and helps carry some of the other actors in the film. As a bit of trivia, make-up effects guru Greg Nicotero [The Walking Dead] makes his acting debut in DOD. He was also an apprentice of Tom Savini who did the effects work on DOD.
Speaking of effects, Tom Savini upped his game big time since Dawn of the Dead and gives the audience some brilliant blood-spaltter effects and classic zombie make-up. His work is a feast for the eyes and his influence on Nicotero cannot be denied.
John Harrison also gives DOD a wonderful soundtrack which always cranks up when the zombies appear. It reminds me a bit of the work Goblin did on a number of Dario Argento’s films. It sets the perfect mood in the scenes it’s employed.
What more need to be said? Day of the Dead is essential viewing for those who love all things zombie. A remake of Day of the Dead was done 2008 with Steve Miner [Friday the 13th, Part II, Halloween: H2O] in the director’s chair. The zombies in the remake are the fast-moving viral kind which I find annoying, especially when they violate the laws of physics! The remake has its good points but it simply doesn’t compare to the original.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.