- Movie Rating -

Day of the Dead (1985)

| August 30, 1985

I come to George Romero’s Day of the Dead as Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead still holds fresh in my mind.  That movie declared itself by stating that Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was only a movie – that Return was the real thing.  Watching Day of the Dead I was always aware of this.  This feels like a movie, it acts like a movie, it talks like a movie.  There wasn’t a moment when I connected with any of it.

First, there are gobs and gobs of dialogue here, long passages, stretches where the characters talk and reason and theorize about the zombies.  What I wanted were the action scenes, the scenes of the survivors running for their lives as the hordes of walking dead bust down doors and overtake them.  I wanted the energy, the pacing, the terror that such a scene required.

Romero limits the film by limiting its space.  The story takes place after zombies have taken over the world (I might like to have seen that) and the few remaining scientists and researchers hole themselves up in an underground military bunker in Florida.  There’s some nonsense about how the scientist, Dr. Frankenstein is doing experiments on a particular zombie that he has nicknamed Bub (Sherman Howard) a friendly zombie that the doctor has trained to use a Sony Walkman and later a gun.  Not very wise, Doc.

The movie never seems to have been thought out.  His first movie was a marvel of a movie because it stayed with the cold, spareness of the situation and kept upping the stakes by reminding us that there was never going to be a happy ending.  The second film, Dawn of the Dead was a brilliant commentary of mall culture, on the ways in which American culture did turn us into zombies.  What is the point here?  I don’t know.  The characters are repulsive.  Their dialogue drones on endlessly with either boring tech speak or sexual violence and there’s never a moment when any of it connect.  It just goes on and on.

Again, it’s all in the approach.  We have a set of expectations and Romero should be exceeding them.  He’s the man who practically invented this genre.  There’s no energy, no style, no substance, no movie really.  The Return of the Living Dead had all of those things.  This movie just lumbers along like one of its ghouls.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Horror