Usually seen as the weakest of the trilogy, and by a long way the most gore filled, this is by no means a bad film. The film was plagued from the start with budget problems, and script re-writes. This was originally supposed to be Romero’s epic, though the finished product bears little relation to the original concept. If Romero had had better funding, certain improvements could have been made to the script, but he still provides an excellent and grim film. Like the previous films, we are given a sense of claustrophobia, of being sealed inside by what’s outside as the film is set mainly in one place. While NOTLD was set in a farmhouse, and the characters may have been able to run somewhere else, and Dawn was set in a shopping mall where all your hearts desires could be found for low low prices, this is set in an underground shelter with miles of caverns leading to nowhere: it’s as if the human race has already sealed itself in Hell. The zombies hold the earth.
The few survivors are not plain civilians as before, they work for a government which does not exist anymore, with the soldiers supposedly facilitating the scientists. Both groups are torn amongst themselves, with the soldiers under the command of Rhodes-one of the most psychotic characters ever, yet completely understandable (played with the utmost power and realism by Pilato and surely deserving of some awards), and the scientists all pulling in different directions. This is primarily a film of characterisation as we see how each person reacts to the realisation that the zombies have won. It may be true that none of the characters are likable, but this only adds to the realism as if we were in this situation, it is likely those around us would p*ss us off most of the time. Even at the end, contrary to what others say, the future holds no hope. The only escape is to hide and wait for your own inevitable death.
But the film is very funny, perhaps sometimes unintentionally, as seen in Dr. Frankenstein’s antics (“no! no, you must listen to me!” Rhodes <with machine gun> “listen to this”! ). The effects, again done by Tom Savini are simply amazing, with faces being torn apart, heads flying off, and intestines spilling everywhere-every single death scene is a masterpiece of gore. Although many horror fans do not like this, it portrays a horrifying situation like no other movie. Perhaps not even the most hardened fan can bear the grimness of what is happening, subconscious fears making them hate it???
Finally a decent DVD version of Day Of The Dead is released- the first disc is a crisp cut of the film in all it’s bloody glory. The second disc has good extras- a solid documentary, and a behind the scenes feature, as well as the usual trailers, filmographies. If you don’t have the Trilogy of the Dead box set, this is a must.
Feel free to comment on my review and the movie itself? Is this your favourite of Romero’s zombie films, or do you think this is where it started to go wrong?