Day of the Dead (also known as George A. Romero's Day of the Dead) is a horror film by director George A. Romero. The third of Romero's five Living Dead movies. It is preceded by Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, and succeeded by Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead. Steve Miner directed a remake which was released on February 15, 2008.
Day of the Dead deals with the fictional zombie assault on a military establishment, satirizing the military mindset in the process. The survivors in the film fear that they are the last humans on the face of the Earth. Day plays on the theme that humanity is a greater danger to itself than any outside threat. The living characters in the film are made up of three distinctive sects who have their own ideas regarding their predicament: soldiers who want to destroy the zombies, scientists who want to study them and find a resolution to the epidemic, and civilians who want nothing more than to live out their last days without care.
The film was widely criticized upon release, though in recent years, it has become a cult classic and developed a reputation as one of the best films in the series. Fans of the previous film were disappointed as the plot is less sweeping in nature and the film sported a much darker tone. The characters were also portrayed as unsympathetic and unpleasant.
The film is set within an underground facility that now houses two warring factions of the living: a small group of scientists who are studying the living dead in hopes of stopping whatever is reanimating them, and a small group of soldiers who are growing increasingly despondent and volatile. The commanding officer
is the dangerous Captain Rhodes (Joseph Pilato
), who is verbally abusive, progressively psychopathic, mentally deranged and shows signs of being on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown. Sarah is one of the main scientists, and her lover is a soldier named Miguel Salazar.
The helicopter pilot John and his friend William McDermott live in a small trailer deeper inside the tunnel, away from the others, and remain neutral in the disagreements between the two other factions. Sarah learns that John and William have a simpler outlook on the situation, believing that the scientists are wasting their time when they should be finding a way to enjoy whatever life they have left. They would prefer to find an island some place and live as comfortably as possible.
As the arguments continue, one of the scientists, Dr. Logan, continues to attempt to control the zombies. One of his main test subjects, named "Bub", shows much progress, evident by his ability to resist eating Dr. Logan when he is given an opportunity, and eventually learning how to use a gun. Captain Rhodes however, becomes infuriated with the Doctor and when he learns that Logan has been rewarding Bub by feeding him the remains of soldiers who have died, he shoots Logan to death. Soon, a stand-off occurs between the two factions, while Miguel, who was previously bitten and had his infected arm amputated, intentionally allows the zombies to invade the military base, sacrificing himself in the process. As the zombies come down the elevator into the bunker, Rhodes runs and takes a mini electric car in order to escape faster and get more amunition thus leaving Steele, Rickles and Torrez to fend for themselves. First Torrez is overpowered by zombies and he is torn apart then Rickles is seen struggling to keep them off with his gun, he is eventually pinned down and he starts to laugh hystericaly as his head is decapitated by the zombies. Steele is seen shooting at zombies as he heads for the lab corridor and sees that Rhodes has locked the door forcing him to shoot it open allowing the zombies to flood into the lab area as well. Bub, who had escaped from captivity and had also acquired a gun, starts shooting blindly in the corridor causing Steele to enter a side room. Bub then appears outside the door and as Steele prepares to shoot Bub, zombies attack Steele from behind. When Steele realizes that he has been bit blesses himself with his gun and then shoots himself in the mouth. Meanwhile Bub follows Captain Rhodes, shooting him multiple times. In a final turn of events, Bub salutes Rhodes as he is torn apart by the attacking zombies. Then Sarah, John and William escape to a desert island with their helicopter. The ending scenes shows Sarah marking the 4th of November of a calendar.
This person was also part of the special effects & make-up crew.
Romero original intended by the film to be his zombie epic
; "the Gone with the Wind
of zombie films. Following budget disputes and the artistic need to release the film unrated, the budget of the film was cut in half, dropping from $7 million to a scant $3.5 million. This forced Romero to scale back his story, rewriting the script and adjusting his original vision to fit the smaller budget. In addition the film was given a very limited release. This is chronicled in the documentary "The Many Days of Day of the Dead" on the 2-disc Anchor Bay special edition DVD of the film. Some of the original concepts and characters remain, but the film differs greatly from Romero's original script, which can be read here
Although Romero intended Day of the Dead
to conclude the saga, showing an end to the zombie plague, in scaling back his script, he was forced to set the film at an earlier point in time. It ends on an ambiguous note, allowing two further sequels, Land of the Dead
and Diary of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead
In the scene change right after Doctor Logan (Richard Liberty) 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 rendition of "The Gonk" (the mall music used at the end) from Dawn of the Dead
can be heard (as performed by John Harrison).
In the dinner scene, McDermott says that "all of the shopping malls are closed," a clear reference to the film's predecessor Dawn of the Dead
, which is set primarily in a shopping mall.
The character of John is referred to as "Flyboy" by Captain Rhodes, just as Stephen was in Dawn of the Dead
At the end of the film the survivors escape using a helicopter, similar to the ending of Dawn of the Dead
When Dr. Logan tries to condition the zombie "Bub", he places earphones over the zombie's ears and plays Beethoven's
"Ode to Joy
" from a tape recorder. This is probably a reference to A Clockwork Orange
where the main character, Alex is undergoing negative behaviorist conditioning
against his asocial
and criminal tendencies. Alex is listening to "Ode to Joy" during his conditioning and undergoes a bad physical reaction to the music he once loved. Both Alex's and Bub the zombie's conditioning treatment backfire
Near the end of Resident Evil
, the protagonist Alice walks outside of her quarantine into a ravaged city street jammed with traffic. The camera pans past a newspaper blowing in the wind stating "The Dead Walk!", a direct homage to George Romero's work on Day of the Dead
The song "M1A1", from the self-titled 2001 Gorillaz album samples the pulsing synthesizers and cries of "Hello! Is anyone there?" from the opening of the film. The song "Hip Albatross", also by Gorillaz, features a clip of Terry Alexander's dialogue. Furthermore, the artwork for the song "November has Come" off of the Gorillaz' 2005 album Demon Days has a picture of a calendar pinned to a brick wall set to the month of October with all the dates marked off in red Xs (reminiscent of the opening scene in Day of the Dead). My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult also sampled dialogue for a track on their album Confessions of a Knife.
Simon Pegg's zombie impression in Shaun of the Dead is an homage to Bub. He describes it as such in the commentary. A delivery man for the fictional Bub's Pizza is zombified in the film. Shaun shuffling into frame in the beginning of the movie is also a reference to the opening of Day.
Due to the rights issue being owned by another studio, Day of the Dead 2: Contagium was released through Taurus Entertainment in an attempt to cash in on the name. The film itself has nothing to do with any of the Romero movies although the box art claims otherwise.
Resident Evil: Extinction references several plot elements including Bub, an underground facility, and a global outbreak.
An episode of Stroker & Hoop featured the characters battling zombies using guns made by Double-Wide. They turn out to fire only sunlight, to which he claims because the film is called Night of the Dead and not Day of the Dead to hint out their weakness to sunlight. Coroner Rick yells at him "THAT WAS THE SEQUEL!"
Day of the Dead
was given a limited release on July 3
and a wide release on July 19
, 1985.. It opened to negative reviews, with most critics complaining that the film was too depressing and slow. Despite its lackluster critical reception, the film grossed $5.8 million domestically. It fared much better internationally, grossing $28.2 million outside of the United States. Day of the Dead
's total gross is a little over $34 million. The film is also noted for its special effects
work, notably Tom Savini
's make-up; and it was honored in 1985
with a Saturn Award
for Best Make-Up. Romero himself cites Day of the Dead
as his personal favorite of his original trilogy of zombie films.
Composed and performed by John Harrison
with vocals by Sputzy Sparacino and Delilah for tracks 5 and 6, this album was given a limited release of 3000 in 2002
. It includes a 12 page booklet with some information from John Harrison and Romero regarding the score.
- "The Dead Suite"
- "Escape Invasion"
- "The Dead Walk"
- "If Tomorrow Comes"
- "The World Inside Your Eyes"
- "Deadly Beginnings"
- "Diner of the Living Dead" (Zombie Voice excerpts from the movie re-edited)
- "Dead Calm"
- "Bub's 9th"
- "Dead End"
Differences from previous films
The following differences have been noticed in Romero's zombie universe since Dawn of the Dead
- Zombie film and Romero fans noted the change in zombie behavior in this film. Many of the zombies generally had a grey green color to their skin. This was done possibly to show the long term effects of decomposition and the elements. Another interesting change is the sudden increase in zombie strength. In the previous films the zombies were generally weak and easy to push past. In Day of the Dead, the zombies had the power to pull human limbs, heads and bodies apart with relative ease - leading some fans to call this the "Play-doh effect."
- This is the only George A. Romero zombie film in which a zombie actually has a line of dialogue. Bub the zombie slurs, "Hello, Aunt Alicia," when prompted by Dr. Logan.
- Day is the only film in Romero's Dead series which does not show people being bitten by a zombie and returning as zombies themselves. It is explained that by amputating the infected limb in time, the infection can be halted, preventing the victim from dying. (Technical note: in a Romero zombie film, zombie bites cause lethal infection, after which the victim rises as a zombie. Infection may also be possible through direct contact with internal zombie fluids. In Day, Dr. Logan wears precautionary medical gloves while handling his undead specimens.)
- In Day, being attacked and eaten by a zombie is portrayed in a much darker, more disturbing tone than the previous films. The several characters who are eaten by zombies experience it on camera as a long, drawn-out, unbelievably painful ordeal.
An unofficial quasi-prequel was released in 2005, entitled Day of the Dead 2: Contagium
. Although it is advertised as an official sequel as Taurus Entertainment Company hold the rights to the original film, no one from the original film had any involvement in the film. The film received very negative reviews on release and as of July 11, 2008, it holds a rating of 2.3 out of 10 on IMDb
The remake of Day of the Dead
was released straight to DVD on April 8th. Little of the original plot exists, the remake only begins to take place in the underground army base near the end of the movie. The movie also bears little resemblance to the Romero original, with the outbreak starting, and not already having taken place well into the story. The zombie's infection is also blamed on an airborne infection spread by cold-like symptoms. It was either unexplained or attributed to radiation in the Romero Dead
films. Though it fared better than Day of the Dead 2: Contagium
, the film also received negative reviews and as of July 11, 2008, it holds a rating of 4.4 out of 10 on IMDb