Day of the Dead Review
Written by: Daniel
With the third chapter in the continuing saga against the undead, George A. Romero's DAY OF THE DEAD broadens the story of the apocolyptic premise while staying inside the bounds of believability. Retreating to an abandoned underground base, scientists have teamed up with the military in order to conduct controlled experiments in an attempt to find a way to cure, or manage, the zombie crisis.
Romero's script explodes with the wild behavior of his frustrated soldiers and the madness that is touching everyone. DAY shows the dark side of survival when humans can no longer depend upon science and medicine, politics or discipline, to focus their efforts and thrive as a group. Everyone is ready to give up, but are encouraged to wait a little longer as the scientists have recently made discoveries that could change everything.
The lead scientist, Dr. Logan, is a bit of an eccentric. He doesn't back down when they call him "Dr. Frankenstein", and is the only person who can hold his own against the soldiers. The specimens he collects are disected, and he gives lessons in how the virus works within the body. On the side, he is training a small group of zombies to learn to behave and communicate through a reward system.
Dr. Logan's main confidant, Sarah, is the only woman in the complex and pulls military duty along with her research responsibilities. Her boyfriend is an exhausted, over stressed soldier who she has to look after and care for. Driven by hope, Sarah works hard to keep the facility running amidst all the chaos and manages to keep her head on straight thoughout the film.
Many of the wisecrack remarks and tension in the film is caused by the dwindeling military comprised of half a dozen or so pot-smoking, foul mouthed jerks under the command of the local bad-ass, Captain Rhodes. Out of supplies and patience, Rhodes threatens to leave the scientists on their own if he doesn't see results.
Remarkably, Dr. Logan has discovered that zombies can be nurtured, rewarded, and trained to behave. In a demonstration, he shows how a particularly well domesticated subject called "Bub" has learned to shave with a razor, flip through a book, and talk to his Aunt Alicia on the telephone. He also knows to salute Captain Rhodes, and when he is threatened by him, checks, aims, and attempts to fire an empty firearm at the man.
Disturbing as it is, Romero allows the film to take a simpathetic turn in favor of the ghouls. Bub, in all his magnificent glory, struggles with being in chains, mourns the loss of his teacher, and seeks revenge on his assassin. A rich character, and one of the most memorable cast members of the DEAD saga, Bub's story becomes a lead in to the evolving zombie theme in Romero's latest film LAND OF THE DEAD, but is never duplicated with the same amount of passion. The zombies of LAND are not pitifull, or sensitive. Instead, they are greedy and destitute, on a mission to devour and destroy.
Without a doubt, DAY OF THE DEAD is in a league of it's own even within the context of the DEAD films. Perhaps not a superior overall film in comparison to NIGHT, DAWN, and LAND, it has it's moments of cinematic relevancy and stands as a wonderful look into humanity, it's dark tendencies, and emphasises how the "undead" can be as compassionate as the most saintly among the living.