(Also posted at http://www.revenantmagazine.com/)
Now, I was thinking of just doing a 1-line review for this movie, along the lines of “Day of the Dead – easily the best Romero Zombie film”, but it appears that (as is often the case), people don’t seem to agree with me despite the fact that I am always right. So apparently I will have to justify this claim. Now, all of his zombie movies are pretty spot-on (yes, even Land of the Dead, while not a patch on the others is still far superior to most other zombie films), and I am sure most people would more-or-less agree. Where I am in the minority is in my knowledge that with Day, George got everything pretty much spot-on.
The characters in Day are much more interesting than the Night or Dawn chaps. Tell me that Flyboy doesn’t annoy the bezeesus out of you, or that you don’t want to leave Barbra out for all the monochrome zombies to devour just to shut her up? With Day, the only character who is nearly as irritating is Captain Rhodes, but this is acceptable as we are supposed to hate him, and we both want and expect him to get his comeuppance. He’s the bad guy, for gawds sake!
With Day of the Dead, the gore effects that were trialed out on NOTLD, and were given a bit of a budget (and tested out in colour) in Dawn reached their peak in Day. The zombies don’t look like they are made of plasticine as they do in Dawn, and they do not utilise cheap looking CGI as in Land of the Dead. How often have you seen effects from this film ripped off and mimicked in more recent movies? Rhodes’ death itself is so iconic it’s been copied to death!
And then there is the story. Night of the Living Dead is your typical siege film, locked in a building with no escape and plenty of infighting. Dawn is a meandering tale that takes an age to get going and tries to encompass the whole of society, but in the end is too caught up with anti-consumerism and has far too many characters resulting in a rather disjointed affair. Day of the Dead discusses the utter futility of life itself. Here the whole of human existence is condensed into one location, one generation and a few short weeks. Should we spend our existence fighting for survival, studying and trying to find a purpose to life, or simply sitting back and making the most of what you have?
To delve even deeper into the sociological metaphors, here the military take on the role of the politicians, the scientists as the philosophers and the civilians are the proletariat. A condensed yet concise slice of society.
Anyway, this is getting a bit too ‘film studies’ now. It is a great movie because the story, characters and effects are superb. There are numerous memorable set pieces, fantastic music throughout, and it is a thoroughly consistent film from start to finish. This is his best film for these, and many more reasons, just accept it eh?
Gore Score B+
Norks Score F
Originality Score C
Overall Score A