My local Rasputin's Music and DVD store just closed and I was lucky enough to snatch up a treasure trove of horror discs including George A Romero's Day of the Dead. Of course I had seen Day before. It is part of the Holy Trilogy after all (the other Holy Trilogy.)
Like many others, Day of the Dead has been my least favorite of the first three dead films (of the total 6, my least favorite was and is Survival of the Dead. Maybe in 20 years I will like it, but I doubt it.) By "least favorite" I don't mean I ever disliked it: it just wasn't as scary as Night of the Living Dead or as awesome as Dawn of the Dead (do I have to explain why Dawn is awesome? I don't think so!) Day has it's charms, mainly Joe Pilato's crazy performance, Tom Savini's makeup and gore, and, of course, Bub.
Who doesn't love Bub? What an amazing performance by Howard Sherman (aka Sherman Howard) and incredible make-up by Savini. Bub is the first Zombie I have ever rooted for!
Day is claustrophobic, gloomy, and surreal. From the setting, an underground bunker that is still half rock, to the cavern of Zombies, separated from the survivors by a wooden fence, the world of Day a tomb. The inhabitants, a mix of scientists and military types, rightly worry that they may be the last survivors. They are also totally crazy or halfway there.
Day would seem to suggest that there is little hope for humanity. Indeed, the real monsters here are the power hungry Rhodes and the delusional Dr. Logan (aka Frankenstein), who has given up trying to "cure" the Zombies and instead is trying to tame them.
Yes, strangely enough, Day of the Dead has a pretty optimistic ending. Sarah, the final girl, escapes with the two remaining non crazy people in the bunker and ends up on a tropical beach. True, they are not out of danger, but it beats having to hang out with Joe Pilato! Romero has called Day his favorite of the first three Dead films. Although I can't quite agree with him on this one, I do have to say I found it scary and compelling. I like what he does with Bub and the whole Frankenstein angle. The sense of claustrophobia and doom are overwhelming at times (my favorite part of Zombie films) and I think the performances are really good, particularly Sherman, Lori Cardille (Sarah) and Terry Alexander (John, the new Flyboy.) Then there is Joe Pilato: crazier and scarier than any Zombie! I really love him in this film: especially when he yells "choke on em" as he is being ripped apart!
Go Bub!!! I wonder: could he really have lived that long after being pulled apart? And what is Pilato made of? Jelly?