Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day of the Dead (1985)

Running Time: 102 minutes
Directed By: George A. Romero
Written By: George A. Romero
Main Cast: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy, Anthony Dileo Jr.
Click here to view the trailer


"Day of the Dead" sort of hits close to home, as it not only features make-up and special effects by Tom Savini, a Pittsburgh native (only sixty miles or so from me), but also stars Lori Cardille as the main character, daughter of long time Pittsburgh broadcaster Bill Cardille, nicknamed "Chilly Billy" for his hosting duties on Chiller Theatre, an old Saturday night horror movie program that aired in the Pittsburgh area. Bill also appeared in the original "Night of the Living Dead", as well as the 1990 remake, directed by Tom Savini.


I'll tell you right now that the film is EASILY the worst when put head to head (to head) with "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead", but I'll save the opinion column for a little further down the page. The film starts with a pretty eerie dream sequence in which we see the main character, Dr. Sarah Bowman (Cardille), sitting alone in an asylum-type room. Once she snaps back to reality, we learn that the events that began in "Night of the Living Dead" and continued in "Dawn of the Dead" are still taking place and now we zoom in on a small group of survivors, holed up in an underground, military compound. Among the survivors are two, smaller groups: the doctors and the military men, as well as two pilots. The doctors and the military men are always at odds with one another, mainly due to the tyrannical behavior of Captain Rhodes (Pilato). The doctors, fully aware tha
t the humans are outnumbered by the "undead", try doing experiments on them, trying to tame them and possibly domesticate them. The experiments are headed up by a particular doctor, Dr. Logan and his star "pupil", whom he calls Bub, a member of the undead clan whom Dr. Logan has made lots of progress with, teaching him to use a gun and salute the military men. Of course, things go awry...

My biggest problem with "Day of the Dead" was the lack of action and the fact that we really don't get into the humans vs. zombies part of the story until something like the last thirty minutes. Prior to that, the real conflict of this movie isn't the humans vs. the monsters, but the humans vs. each other, as the doctors and the soldiers engage in, what seems like, a never ending war of words. I love, love, love a good zombie flick, but I think most zombie movie lovers would agree that the meat & potatoes of any good zombie flick is the survivalist qualities, the "how are they going to get out of this jam" or the "oh no, there's fifty zombies between him and where he needs to be, let's see how he gets out of this!". I was shocked when I looked on IMDB and saw that this film has a healthy '7.0' rating. You have to figure that the majority of the people rating this are the real horror junkies and in my opinion, this just wasn't up to snuff with other, better horror or even more specifically, other zombie movies - especially Romero's zombie movies.

Otherwise, if you want to get technical, the make-up and effects were pretty B.A., as you can never go wrong with Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini, who know their stuff when it comes to making things look extra f'd up. I've included a few pictures here, but as far as just how gruesome these zombies look, there's no comparison to "Night of" or "Dawn of". Unfortunately, it's a shame that the zombies look the best in a film where they're not at the forefront of the plot for most of the time.

I think I can be quoted, at one time on this blog, as saying I'm not really a horror guy. I've realized recently that that's an absolutely false statement. As much as I didn't care for this on a quality movie level, I have to admit that it was a lot of fun at times and ultimately I had fun watching, even though I had some severe gripes. If you're just looking for a cheap thrill, then this should do the trick. However, if you want quality, like me, then you need to opt for either "Night of" or "Dawn of" and forget "Day of".

RATING: 4/10  Yeah, that's about as good as it gets from me. I just can't go any higher. Had they put the zombies a little more "out there" and made them more prevalent, this would've been fine, but it is what it is. 

October 26, 2013  8:00pm


  1. OK, thanks for the review. I have seen a couple of the other Romero 'Just after breakfast, but not quite yet late morning of the dead' films. The first one, in the house with a cellar.. that was Ok.. the one in the Shoppin Mall had good social comment about consumerism, so I found that.. Ok.. ish, but after that..
    I'm afraid our preferences in horror are different, and I'm such a grumpy old git, I'm always on the side of whoever is slicing up objectionable teens.

    1. The shopping mall one (Dawn of the Dead) was definitely my favorite. Liked the Night of the Living Dead well enough too (probably should've made my TOP 20 list that season). This was awful. I'd like to see the other two just to say I've seen them, but I don't have high hopes for them.


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