Day Of The Dead (1985)
PLOT - A small group of soldiers and scientist hold up in an underground bunker down in Florida desperately searching for either other survivors, or a cure for the plague that's taken over the entire world. The undead have taken over all major cities, and surround the outside gates that protect the bunker. When tensions rise, the soldiers begin to retaliate against the scientist when no results have been shown. It isn't until one of the scientist reveals his latest project. A zombie by the name of Bub. A creature who still possesses his humanity and proves a threat to the newly appointed Captain, who is on the verge of madness.
LOWDOWN - I don't quite remember exactly when I first watched Day Of The Dead. All I remember was that at a young age I discovered George A Romero's Dead films, and instantly fell in love. There was Night which was an iconic black and white classic which I liked tell enough, but as much as this might be a surprise, I loved the 1990 remake a tad bit better. I adored Dawn, the splashy colorful comic book thrill ride adventure, and of course the third entry in the dead series, which branched off to be released at the perfect time in the 1980's. This third film in my eyes is the true closing of the Dead series (Sorry, Land, Diary, and Survival never quite did it for me) I have always said George should have made Dusk and perfectly ended the series full circle. Day took things in a different, and much different direction. This reflected the times perfectly, most of all between the character of Sarah, an intelligent, strong willed female character, the build up after the legacy left from bubbling Barbra, the pregnant Fran who finally found her voice, and finally Sarah. A scientist, who clearly seems detached by emotion, distancing herself to keep sane. One of the stronger members of the team, she's determined to find a cure, as well as showing that despite that fact she's sleeping with one of the soldiers, she senses how unstable and weak he is, yet fights for his life even if it costs her everything. This is a woman who isn't afraid to fight back, take action, as well as standing up to Rhodes. One of my favorite lines in the movie is her yelling "Yes sir! Fuck you sir!"
As for characters, I feel four of Romero's strongest characters he's ever written are featured in this one film. There's Sarah of course, then John her friend. This Jamaican helicopter pilot is the voice of reason in the film. Wise years beyond his time, he represents yet again the strong African American presence shown in George's movies. His speeches are beyond iconic. In fact, I would say the man has the best lines in the entire movie. One of my favorites are "Forget we're making this a habit man? Pointing guns at each other you know?" Or his speech to Sarah on why he believes this time down in the bunker are a waste of time. I love how he stays true to his friend Sarah throughout the entire film. How protective he is of her during the "Sit down lady." scene, and of course how he proves a good point later telling Sarah and a few of the others to be careful, knowing that Rhodes is like any other human, and very dangerous. Love his scene with Rhodes when he refuses to fly, and afterwards takes the higher road after looking down at Fisher heartbroken, not wanting to sink to his level, leaving him for a fate much worse. One of my favorite underrated heroes featured in a horror film.
Then Rhodes. The ultimate villain e-v-e-r. What makes Rhodes so famous is the fact he is human, very human in fact. Flawed yes. What makes him so scary is the fact he isn't this big guy, like his other men. He's this short Italian guy, who has a hair trigger temper. This man clearly is cracking under the pressure. His backstory unknown, all we see is that after taking over after Major Cooper dies, he becomes unhinged. Cruel, loud, and down right man spirited, he's exactly as John says. He's human, and he's dangerous. I guess it's honestly the way you look at it. It's a double sided coin. He was just trying to protect his men, and was pushed over the edge. Sadly, this was the downfall to one of the most iconic and famous deaths in horror history. He's a man we love to hate, and his showdown with Bub is something of horror history.
Speaking of Bub, he will and forever after Flyboy from Dawn be my favorite zombie. Dr. Logan's pet, it's shown this is a creature who's still just a little human. His scenes are honestly the best, and you can't help but love him like some adorable puppy. My favorites are of course when he has his headphones on and hears music, and of course when he first sees Rhodes. His showdown with him later is of course legendary, but my heart breaks every time he finds Logan in the freezer. Kills me.
The deaths in this movie were top of the line. Savini had some of the young KNB crew working with him and in my eyes this is where he topped himself. The effects in this film were at the top of their game. Of course Dr. Logan's bloody experiments, and of course the gory showdown at the end with the hundreds of zombies coming down and feasting on the men. Each death tops the lasts, and is beyond unsettling. Rhodes of course has the best death, and his famous line "Choke on em!" is one of my favorites. Watching the zombie feast at the end of always something deeply disturbing that I can't help but smile at. This movie is so bloody that even my sister couldn't stomach watching it growing up. This movie's effects are the true highlight and even little moments like the zombie getting it's head cut off by the shovel, the brain zombie, and of course guts...lots and lots of guts. George's zombies have never looked so good before!
With a GREAT soundtrack via synthesizer, I think Day has the best soundtrack of them all. In fact, it's downright beautiful. With dreamy classic scenes (the arms bursting out, Miguel turning over pouring his insides, and of course the classic reaction of Rhodes and his men as the elevator slowly lowers, is why this film will and forever remain a classic.) I still to this day quote it. "What the fuck is wrong with you people? They're dead! They're fucking dead and you wanna teach em tricks?!" Shout Factory as well as Anchor Bay have released awesome SE of the DVD/Blu-Ray. I have only met a few people from this film, and my dream is someday to meet the whole cast. Has anyone seen that Mondo release of the soundtrack? Man oh man, something I drool over to get and have the cast/crew sign in the future. Always a comfort film of mine, I think Day is one of George's best films, as well as one of the best zombie and horror movies out there. The Walking Dead should take notes. This is how the undead are done.