dead" have taken over the world. Only a small band of scientists
and soldiers are definitely known to remain, and they have taken refuge
in an underground missile silo. The only hope for survival of the
human race hinges on discovering a way to either control the walking dead
or get the dead back into their graves for good.
"We don't have enough ammunition to shoot them all in the head. The time to have done that would have been in the beginning. No, we let them overrun us. We are in the minority now, something like 400,000 to one by my calculation."
- Dr. Logn
Day of the Dead
is an acceptable addition to Romero's zombie trilogy, if not an acceptable
I honestly believe
that if this had been the middle film, bridging the gap between Night
low-key claustrophobia and Dawn
's extreme violence and scale then
it would have worked better. Not a bad film on it's own merits, it feels
flat as the final part of a greater whole, where Dawn
had one of
the most magnificent ends I've ever seen. Who could forget Ken Foree in
the 1978 edition ending a film with the nonchalant "Alright...", leaving
the viewer confronted with the spectacle of consumer zombies marching to
music? Satirical and undeniably brilliant. Day
by comparison grounds
to a halt and seems to run out of steam rather than end with Romero's trademark
The film is
also guilty of the gore that the second had alluded to; here a zombie's
eyes look left and right after his head has been severed from the mouth
up, while a soldier is still conscious after having his legs torn from
his body and his entrails ripped out. (Yelling "Choke on 'em!", no less)
Similarly, when another soldier commits suicide by placing a handgun in
his mouth we are shown his brains blowing out behind him. It is this late-80s
commercial aspect that daunts, as this is the only film in the series that
concludes with "soundtrack album available", a reminder that the film is
chock-full with over loud dated incidentals and an end-titles song.
The first film
in the series, Night of the Living Dead
, didn't work at first for
me as it's somewhat stilted technique and – Duane Jones and Karl Hardiman
excepted – amateurish acting led me to believe it was an exercise in high
camp. Watched a second time I realized it was played straight, just not
played very well. Looked at as a template, it shows the degeneration of
the zombies and sheds light on the myth that Day
is a humorless
has the nasty zombies (though they're never referred
to by that word in any of the films); the ones who use weapons, the zombies
who stab through the heart with a trowel. Dawn
, by far the greatest
of the series, has the consumer zombies who stagger like ten pins, waiting
to be knocked down. Day
, conversely, has "Bub". Bub is a docile
zombie who listens to Beethoven and salutes soldiers, a friend to the amusing
Dr. Logan. Logan begins to give an actual psychological profile of the
creatures, and medical study of their nature. He also sites the monsters
as outnumbering humans by roughly "400,000 to one". Perhaps what the film
lacks most of all is a cinematic vision. There's a nice wide shot in the
opening moments on an island inhabited entirely by the zombies. This at
least captures some of the aspect of Dawn
, which really did convince
on a minimal budget and with adroit editing that the entire world was under
zombie regime. But after the island prologue we enter the claustrophobic,
squat laboratory and it all becomes closed in. Claustrophobia is fine when
you're under siege, but the threat is almost wholly absent here. In fact,
the only time the cast are really in any danger from the undead (apart
from the finale) is in Sarah's (Lori Cardille's) dream sequences. A film
lacks tension if the only danger your characters are in is falling asleep
and dreaming about it. Unless of course that film is Nightmare on Elm
the real dangers come from within. We are "treated" to one-dimensional
soldiers who govern the underground research center, most notably Joseph
Pilato, absolutely lousy as Captain Rose. Better is G. Howard Klar as Steele,
who shows some humanity under the macho rhetoric. The picture also sees
the latest, and least successful, in a line of black leads, with Terry
Alexander as the West Indian John. This is commendable, though can also
smack of tokenism, especially when John joins an Irish lead to form the
two lazy characters that never want to work. The Irish character (Catchphrase:
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph") is also a heavy drinker, while John wants to
"soak up some sun on a beach"; though in fairness they are the two most
theory is the notion that all three films could run concurrently. In Dawn
we see a roadblock of rednecks like those in the first, and here there's
a reference to all the shopping malls being closed. I often wondered what
a fourth film in the series would be called, as the good titles seemed
to be used up. Tea Time of the Dead, maybe? Between Half Past One and Five
O'clock of the Dead? Yet it transpires that George A. Romero has mentioned
in interviews that he'd consider a fourth, especially as "Day
quite the ending he'd envisaged due to budget cuts. Fan rumors currently
suggest "Dusk" or "Twilight" as the likely options. Let's hope it materializes,
saga for the new millennium.
A. Romero has a cameo as a zombie pushing a cart in the foreground during
the final zombie feast, seen from the waist down and identified by his
trademark plaid scarf wrapped around his waist.
pig intestines were used for the scene where Rhodes gets ripped apart in
the hallway. Unfortunately, someone had left the guts out of the freezer
over the weekend, and after the scene was shot the cast and crew ran away
a holiday break in filming, makeup artist Gregory Nicotero used the realistic
and gruesome model of his own head (as seen in a laboratory scene in the
film) to play a practical joke on his mother.
book Dr. Logan gives to Bub is Stephen King's: Salem's Lot.
Romero had originally planned for all the zombies to perish in a massive
explosion when they stumbled across explosive chemicals in the laboratory.
Meanwhile, one of the crew members who had died during the attack was to
have stayed dead and not come back as a zombie, thereby giving hope to
original script, for which Romero couldn't get budget for, involved the
scientists living over-ground in a fortress protected by electrified fences
and the military living safely underground. It also involved a small army
of trained zombies, and the conclusion to the trilogy more brutal than
the current version.
the extras who portrayed zombies in the climax received for their services:
a cap that said "I Played A Zombie In 'Day of the Dead'", a copy of the
newspaper from the beginning of the film (the one that says THE DEAD WALK!),
and one dollar.
- The first scene (the abandoned city) of the movie was filmed in
Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, Florida.
- The budget for Romero's original script was estimated at $7 million,
but he would only be given the money if he could film an R-rated film.
He was told that if he went ahead and shot an unrated film with no limits
on gore, the budget would be split in half to $3.5 million.
- In the opening dream sequence, in which zombie hands burst through
a wall to grab Sarah, one of the hands touches her breast. This zombie
arm was actress Lori Cardille's husband.
- The lowest grossing film in Romero's "Dead" trilogy. Nonetheless,
it's gained a cult following over the last two decades, and the director
himself has stated that he considers it his best film.
- The underground facility was not on a soundstage. It was shot
in the Wampum mine, a former limestone mine near Pittsburgh, that was being
used for a underground storage facility. The 2,500,000 square foot mine
is now operated as the Gateway Commerce Center who now called it a "subsurface
- The only movie in Romero's DEAD trilogy where a zombie
has a line of dialogue (Bub says, "Hello Aunt Alicia.").
- Joseph Pilato (Rhodes) line "Choke on them" as he's being ripped
apart by zombies was ad-libbed by the actor.
- In the scene change right after Logan tells the zombie that it
needs to sit in the dark and think about what it did, and punishes it by
turning off the light, a little bit of the "Zombie March" music from Dawn
of the Dead can be heard in the scene change.
- In the cafeteria scene, William McDermott (Jarlath Conroy) says
that "All of the shopping malls are closed." This is a clear reference
to the film's predecessor Dawn of the Dead, which is set in a shopping
- There is a debatable scene in the film where Bub the zombie may
or may not have another line of dialogue. When Sarah enters Logan's lab,
she is startled when Bub emerges from the shadows behind her. After this,
he moans something that some fans believe is, "I'm sorry."
- Most of the zombie extras in this film were Pittsburg residents
who volunteered to help in the film.