Day of the Dead ★★★

"Civility must be rewarded or else there's no use for it."

Keep a group of men in a confined space without any signs of civilization for long enough and—no matter how many flesh-eating zombies are around—they'll turn into the real monsters. Day of the Dead makes this clear through its creation Bub, the intelligent zombie. Bub is nicer and probably smarter than 90% of the humans in this movie, and a perfect "civil yet inhuman monster" foil to the monstrous and uncivil humans.

Day of the Dead also shares some DNA in common with Alien. Both create a set of very clear characters and drop them into a world that feels authentically lived-in, and this scenario is what they derive their drama from. Genuine character conflict from ideological differences. Working class vs. the military. This combination of real characters in a real world is easily the film's greatest strength. Its greatest weakness, on the other hand, is that the actors spend so much time yelling that you'd think that portions of the script were written in caps lock.

George Romero populates the third installment in his famous trilogy with an abundance of stylistic flourishes. The biggest highlight is obviously the gore effects, which are as beautiful as they are gut-wrenching. The set design is also quite impressive, and it's all photographed in a way that looks good without drawing attention to itself (particularly the opening bit and some stuff in the finale).

Even if it's not one of my personal favorites, it still feels like quintessential zombie cinema.


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