Day of the Dead ★★★★

Geoff T’s 2015 Hoop-Tober 2.0 Challenge
George Romero/Living Dead Double Bill #2

With a bigger budget at his disposal, George Romero wanted Day of the Dead to be bigger in scale than his first two efforts combined. Some consider this inferior, but personally I'd be one to disagree. It feels more polished than Dawn in terms of it's acting, gore FX and direction. However, it loses a lot of the humor it's predecessor had and plays as a more downbeat and serious zombie film.

Compared to Dawn, it's pacing is a bit slower, at least during the first half. By this time, the zombies have vastly outnumbered the human population, which is detailed in the film's opening showing the main group of survivors flying over a tropical environment infested with the undead and no survivors in sight. Most of the film takes place in an underground bunker in Florida where tensions between the military soldiers and the scientists arise over disagreements.

One thing I liked here was the characterization. Sarah Bowman is a strong female lead, but Captain Rhodes is one of the most deplorable villians I've seen in a horror flick, a psychotic degenerate only looking out for himself and abusing the scientists and even his own men (who themselves are also wretched). Like alot of Romero works, a lot of the actors didn't go on to have very prolific careers, and I find that a bit of a shame since they're better than you'd expect.

Like the last film, Day of the Dead has a very memorable soundtrack. John Harrison (who also scored Romero's Creepshow) delivers a heavily synthesized music score that while sounding rather light-hearted in places, is catchy and fitting of the film's underground atmosphere. Tom Savini again provides much of the FX in the form of realistic zombie makeup and some truly gruesome blood and gore effects, which include the usual flesh-eating and organs leaking out.

While Dawn overall had a larger influence on zombie films, Day to me just feels like a much stronger effort. It's not entirely without it flaws however, I felt it's ending was a bit rushed and cliche. Still, this is easily one of Romero's best and more unappreciated films in my view. While I enjoyed Dawn of the Dead very much, I just like this one a whole lot more.


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