Well here we are. Another year, 31 more days of October. And by that I mean 30 more because I was too lazy to post yesterday. But you have my word, dear readers, that Day 2 will be posted later this evening. YOU HAVE MY WORD.
Anyway I’m excited to be here, writing this again. Watching these movies for myself and for all 43 views I had over the last year from France. If you’re reading this from France, Hola. I also has one view last year from the United Arab Emirates. So that’s pretty cool. I’m internationally famous.
So the format this year will be the same. Pretty much 1-3 movie posts every day, with one surprise franchise retrospective somewhere in the middle of the month. So, without further ado, here is Day 1 of 31 Days of Horror!
The third of George A. Romero’s original zombie trilogy, Day of the Dead is easily his most absurd and his most gory. The amount of bizarre directions that this movie takes is sometimes staggering. In a more modern context in doesn’t seem quite as absurd because we’ve had crazy zombie movies like Tokyo Zombie and Pontypool, but back in the 1980s, I can only assume that this one was seen as potentially one of the more bizarre zombie movies made so far, unless there’s some old B-Zombie movie that’s just weird as hell but I don’t know.
Day of the Dead is about a small group scientists and soldiers (not very many of either) surviving the zombie invasion in the bunker of what looks to be some kind of military base in a suburb. The story follows scientist Sarah (Lori Cardille) as she attempts to make peace between the scientists and soldiers, and it’s not easy because the soldiers are testosterone machines that only care about going out and destroying every zombie while Sarah and the other male scientist want to find a way to cure the zombie. Now, Logan (Richard Liberty), who is referred to by many characters as “Dr. Frankenstein,” seems to want to find a way to train the zombies like pets or servants (similar to the later comedy horror movie Fido).
This movie had some absolutely fantastic practical effects and, if you read any of my posts from last year, you will know that I am a huge fan of good practical effects. This movie was also very “80s.” Romero’s first of the zombie trilogy, Night of the Living Dead, was made in 1968, while Dawn of the Dead was made in 1978. So now, in 1985, George Romero gave us Day of the Dead. Now in each of these individual zombie films, it is very apparent in which decade they were made. Now Day of the Dead happens to be the most apparent. There is a very cheesy synthesizer score that is just beautiful, there’s all kinds of fun overacting from every actor in the movie, and it just features some very 80s horror decision-making, including standing in a line and unloading machine guns into four zombies. They just riddled them with bullets. And if you’ve seen any zombie media you know that shooting a zombie anywhere but the head is just thoroughly pointless and a waste of bullets. A lot of cool fun campy terrible decisions.
Campy would be the best word to describe this movie. It’s probably not quite as campy as Dawn of the Dead but it’s a lot of fun and I would say it’s more fun than Night of… and Dawn of…, and that’s not to say it’s a better movie it’s just to say that it takes itself less seriously than the first two. There’s a lot of plot things like the relationship between Sarah and Miguel (Anthony Dileo Jr.), who is completely at the breaking point of his sanity, that just aren’t really that important, but it helps the overall plot of the disparity between the scientists and soldiers. That subplot could have been better, but at the same time it didn’t really need to be.
I think the best character was Dr. Frankenstein, Logan, because he was very reminiscent of Jeffrey Combs in Re-Animator. He was very eccentric, talkative , and his whole obsession with trying to socialize Bub the zombie (Sherman Howard), going to far as to teach Bub how to answer a phone, flip through a book, even fire and correctly wield a pistol. It’s just a lot of fun to see the relationship between Logan and Bub, and that is one of the reasons the movie is so completely absurd.
Bub is also a great character in his own. There are points in the movie at which you actually sympathize with the zombie which, despite how unlike more traditional zombie movies that may be (all zombies do is eat and walk forward whereas Bub was able to be distracted by a toothbrush or a shaving razor), it’s an interesting, weird, funny twist, and I really appreciated that aspect of the movie. It’s such a fun movie and, obviously teaching a zombie how to use a gun is a terrible idea and there’s only one direction that can go in by the end of the movie. I won’t spoil it by saying it specifically but it’s not that hard to figure it out. It’s just a lot of fun and I highly recommend the movie. Day of the Dead compared to Night of… and Dawn of…, Night of the Living Dead is unbeatable in the zombie genre. As far as Dawn of the Dead, I don’t know. I love Dawn of… and Day of…, they are both great for different reasons. It’s hard to say one is better than the other so I will just say they are equal for different reasons.