• R, 1 hr. 31 min.
  • Horror
  • Directed By:
    George A. Romero
    In Theaters:
    Jul 3, 1985 Wide
    On DVD:
    Nov 10, 1998
  • United Film Distribution Compa

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Day of the Dead Reviews

Page 1 of 166

Super Reviewer

October 19, 2006
Of Romero's original trilogy of zombie films, this one is by far the most gory, disturbing, and dark. It's not quite as amazing or brilliant as "Night" and "Dawn", but it is still an excellent movie that is done quite well. The special effects are magnificent, and are a definite highlight.

I was originally not as keen on this one, as were many people. Over time though, this one has really grown on me, and is one of Romero's best. As far as the social commentary aspect, the focus here is the military culture of the 1980s, and its conflict with science or the humanities. It really critiques macho bullshit quite harshly, although science isn't exactly given a nice treatment either, what with the idea of experimenting with the dead, and trying to treat them like meat puppets who are slowly evolving, and trying to reclaim their old lives.

As this used to be the final Romero zombie film, the more overtness of the apocalyptic tone seemed more fitting than normal, with a much stronger finality. It still feels that way, even though the saga still continues.

I liked the look of things, even though Pennsylvania is not the setting. Also, the acting is pretty damn good. Joseph Pilato, as Captain Rhodes, is one of the most intense and menacing human villains ever, and the performance really drives that aspect home. He's a guy you don't wanna mess with, but you can't wait for karma to catch up with him.

Give this one a shot. It's dark, uncompromising, and really doesn't have a nice outlook on the world, but that's the point, and it's all done quite amazingly.
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

November 11, 2012
While Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead have both been embraced as horror icons, Day of the Dead has never quite got the credit or attention it deserves. All too often it is seen as a footnote to George A. Romero's early work with zombies, being generally regarded as watchable but weaker than its predecessors. In fact, it represents a return to form, rounding off the Dead Trilogy with one of the bleakest, most nihilistic films of the 1980s.

There are three probable reasons why Day of the Dead has been so underrated. Firstly, Romero spent less of the intervening years experimenting; while he had tried to diversify after Night with mixed success, after Dawn he made the little-seen oddity Knightriders before returning to the horror genre with Creepshow, based on the stories by Stephen King. Secondly, the horror genre had moved on substantially since the first two films, with Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead and David Cronenberg's Videodrome pushing the limits of gore and plastic reality. In the face of both these things, Day of the Dead must have felt like Romero retreating to what he knew, producing something that seemed more by-the-numbers, when in fact it is nothing of the sort.

Thirdly, and perhaps most pertinently, the film suffered from big production problems. Romero set out to make what he called "the Gone with the Wind of zombie movies", increasing the number of locations to truly capture what a global zombie apocalypse would look like. But during pre-production the budget was slashed from $7m to $3.5m, forcing Romero into drastic re-writes. The shooting conditions were so humid that Tom Savini's props failed regularly, causing delays that eventually led to cast and crew sleeping at the locations to cut down on travel time. This would certainly account for both the rough-and-ready aesthetic of the film and the often crazed performances within it.

As before, this is a symbolic continuity with the previous instalments in the trilogy. There are a new group of characters, but they are again comprised of three men and a woman. We begin visually where Dawn left off, in a helicopter looking for survivors in an area that has been overrun by zombies. The shot of the useless dollar bills blowing in the wind both nods back to the commercialism storyline of Dawn and informs us that things are now a lot worse. And we have another black protagonist, although this time the female character is a lot stronger and more resourceful than her predecessors.

This time around the zombies do not represent racism, commercialism or the fallout of Vietnam. The film tackles a number of themes, including vivisection, social conditioning and the relationship between science and the military, with the zombies playing some part in all three. Romero described the film as "a tragedy about how a lack of human communication causes chaos and collapse even in this small little pie slice of society". This time the threat is endemic rather than able to be contained, and with humanity firmly on the back foot, the people who are left are bickering over how to survive.

Just as Martin was Romero's take on Dracula and vampire mythology, so you could describe Day of the Dead as a retelling of Frankenstein. One of the scientists at the base is severely unhinged, convinced to the point of madness that he can prevent or reverse human decay, which is being accelerated by the zombie plague. Having discovered ways to isolate and revive dead flesh from numerous, illegally-sourced specimens, he proceeds to create a lucid creature in Man's image - only instead of sewing one together from used parts, he is trying to reawaken the humanity within the walking dead. The monster learns to obey his master, but is still regarded as a monster even as (or perhaps because) it displays human characteristics.

The allusions to Frankenstein illuminate what makes Day of the Dead so successful: it makes the zombies terrifying by making them intelligent. While Dawn often reduced the zombies down to cannon fodder, for the characters to wade through and pick off at their leisure, this film returns to the territory of Night by making them rational creatures, who not only resemble us physically but have the same capacity for memory and learning. The scene where Bub shoots Captain Rhodes is tragic despite our antipathy towards his character: he is brutally murdered by something with a formative understanding of good and evil, with Frankenstein's monster turning on the people who made him (albeit indirectly).

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, John Landis remarked that stories about monsters, whether literary or cinematic, were often very conservative works. He argued that they shored up the authority of the church and state by showing the darker side of scientific progress, or the extremes to which 'science' could go if not properly checked. This idea is conveyed here by the conflict between the scientists, whose experiments have no real time constraints, and the military led by Captain Rhodes, who follow strict rules and only want useable results. Our main protagonists are civilians caught in the middle of this powder keg, with survival resting on their leaders' ability to balance the power.

Even considering the dark tone of zombie movies in general, Day of the Dead is impressive for just how bleak it is. Where the previous two films entertained the possibility, however slim, that there was hope for humanity, here we are very much in the endgame. The majority of scenes are set underground, whether in the base, the caves or the mine, and the war being fought is not one of conquest but of containment. There is a feeling that the zombies have already won, with the military entertaining the scientists' mad schemes as a desperate last resort in the absence of more men, more ammunition, or better ideas.

This nihilism is reinforced by the overhanging influence of John Carpenter. The score by John Harrison, who also scored Creepshow, is of the same minimalistic, electronic ilk that Carpenter has made his trademark. The tone is as bleak and pessimistic as The Thing, and like that film the characters spend a great deal of their time being paranoid about their own security or identity. And there is a vague connection to Assault on Precinct 13, insofar as both films involve disparate groups of characters fighting together to contain a shifting threat.

Even by the standards of its predecessor, Day of the Dead is incredibly gory. Despite the failures that occurred on set, Tom Savini pulls out all the stops, delivering a series of distinctive deaths which will delight and satisfy gore-hounds. There are a lot of really gross moments, the most memorable being Captain Rhodes' death: the film employs latex rubber in a further connection to The Thing, stretching out the Captain's limbs until his whole body is destroyed. But for all the squirming it induces, the gore does loosely fit the tone, complimenting (however literally) the feeling that everything around us is falling apart.

The performances in Day of the Dead are by and large pretty good. Lori Cardille is the stand-out as Sarah Bowman; she manages to play the voice of reason and strength without coming across either as a whiny bitch or an empty stereotype. Jarlath Conroy gives her good support as Bill, even though it takes a while to get over his uncanny resemblance to Rowan Atkinson. Joseph Pilato and Richard Liberty are hamming it up as Rhodes and 'Frankenstein', but this kind of makes sense giving the emotional state of their respective characters.

There are a couple of problems with Day of the Dead. It is more narratively free-form that Night, being shorter than its predecessor but also quite slow and loose in places. The symbolism is less obvious but also more convoluted, while occasionally hampers its ability to build tension. And like Dawn, the ending doesn't quite work, with one too many jump scares and dream sequences undermining the dark intelligence of the third act.

Day of the Dead is an improvement on its immediate predecessor which ends Romero's Dead Trilogy on something of a high note. While it has similar problems to Dawn in terms of pacing, it is narratively and thematically more fleshed-out, developing its characters to a greater extent and justifying its bleak, nihilistic tone. Whatever shortcomings his later zombie work has had, this remains an intriguing, engrossing and often chilling offering.
Everett J

Super Reviewer

November 10, 2012
George Romero is the godfather of everything zombie, and this is his 3rd movie in his ongoing series of zombie movies. "Day of the Dead" takes place in an under ground missile silo. There's two groups of people down there trying to work together. A group of military men, and a group of scientists. They fight and argue a lot, and can't seem to ever get on the same page. One of the scientists, Dr. Logan(Richard Liberty) attempts to domestic the zombies, but eventually the zombies get in and all hell breaks loose. While this is a good movie, it's nowhere near the level of "Night of the Living Dead" or "Dawn of the Dead". Of the three, this is probably the most dated, which is odd considering it's an 80's movie opposed to the other two which were released in the 60's and 70's. The acting is very, very over the top. Especially Caption Rhodes, the leader of the military group who just yells and freaks out all the time. At first it's laughable, then it becomes kind of annoying and you can't wait to see him die. This movie has one of the best zombie kills ever involving a shovel. The best thing about this movie is the way the zombie kill the humans, as it's much more vicious and gory than the previous 2. I love zombie movies, so I love it, but if your not a zombie fan then you will probably not like it, or just stay away all together.

Super Reviewer

January 24, 2007
George Romero's original trilogy ends with Day of the Dead, a letdown for those who expected another fun party movie like Dawn of the Dead. Now given the passage of time, several things are apparent about it that make it a fantastic entry in the series. First of all, it has the best acting to date. At times it can seem over-the-top, but it works well with the material. Second, the make-up effects have never been surpassed. Tom Savini's work earned him high praise and awards - richly deserved. Third, this is a return to the direness of the original Night of the Living Dead. Even though the original script was trimmed down to make the budget requirements, the film that was delivered is quite amazing, and still retains a lot of power even today.
Graham J

Super Reviewer

October 27, 2011
In no way on par with it's predecessor but still a worthwhile film. The zombies continue to be as terrifying as those in Dawn Of The Dead and the kills are even more brutal.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

February 26, 2011
Leaving aside the brilliant satyrical humor of Dawn of the Dead, Romero makes an attempt at a zombie drama but fails with a poorly executed plot. The unidimensional characters are so badly developed and unlikable that we never care about them, and so everything falls flat.

Super Reviewer

January 25, 2007
when romero dropped off, he dropped pretty far. his loose sequels are simply expanding the scope of the zombie apocalypse, and although we get a sense of that at the start of the film it just gets worse and worse as time goes on. i actually really enjoyed the final 15 minutes or so and the design of the zombies was great, but the acting, dialogue, and overall plot were fairly weak and the film had nearly no terrifying moments as opposed to the many in romero's first installment. overall, a pretty poor film.
Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

May 19, 2007
There is a lot in this movie to enjoy and respect. There is just as much to jibe with. To be fair, let's start with the merits of the third living dead installment, Day of the Dead. It was created with the largest budget of any of the George Romero zombie-fests up to that point, a 3.5 million dollar shooting budget. In Romero land that moolah translates to some kick ass zombie effects. One asset this flick had was Tom Savini. That guy never ceases to impress me when it comes to special make-up effects. Some of the gore in this movie is engrained into my memory. People standing up and spilling their guts on the floor, zombies reduced to half-a-brain connected to a spinal cord, and so on. Even the general look of the zombies was impressive. The make-up and prosthetics had come a long way from the grayish-blue faced zombies in Dawn of the Dead. So why was Dawn so much better than this movie?

For one, this was the beginning of the end for the Romero-zombies that you love to hate. The first two movies, Night and Dawn, had a genius mix of social commentary and straight-up gore, which is a difficult balance to maintain. In Day, that balance was completely abandoned. I was reading user reviews on imdb for this movie and someone remarked that this movie came the closest to making him cry of any movie ever. That's exactly my gripe with this zombie-loving-pansy fiasco. This movie bends over backwards to make the viewer empathize with the plight of the zombies and vilifies the survivors. I don't want to relate to the walking dead! I want to scream with glee when they get their heads blown off. The same touchy-feely zombie lover who made the crying remark said that this movie had the best zombie ever: Bub. Bub is a zombie that the scientists in this flick are working to socialize. He reads, he speaks, he enjoys music, and he can even shoot a gun. Whoopty shit. He would still eat your brain if he got the chance.

My gripe is not just with the sides Romero takes in this movie. You might not agree with my callous distrust of the zombie race. There are a host of other problems with this movie, though. Apparently Romero has been quoted as saying this is his favorite movie he's ever made. I think that says something about his filmmaking style. In writing a movie, it really doesn't matter how many high minded principles you put into it. High concept movies with elaborate messages to send the viewer are just that: concepts without substance. A movie's quality is based on the strength of its characters. It can be the greatest political message ever made, but if the characters aren't interesting and the dialogue doesn't pop, then the audience won't respond. When someone dies in this movie I didn't give two shits. It was just another body. At the end of the movie I didn't think, "Wow, this movie really made me think about myself and my relationship to society." I thought, "A zombie movie with a happy ending? Excuse me while I vomit."

But, it is a good movie.

Super Reviewer

October 2, 2010
"You want to put some kind of explanation on all this? Here's one as good as any other. We're bein' punished by the Creator. He visited a curse on us. Maybe He didn't want to see us blow ourselves up, put a big hole in the sky. Maybe He just wanted to show us He's still the Boss Man. Maybe He figure, we gettin' too big for our britches, tryin' to figure His shit out."

A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.

There are some who say that Romero lost his way with his third 'dead' movie, Day of the Dead; I disagree. Whilst it is true that the first hour may be a little heavy on the talking and rather light on the old blood and guts for some fans, the director sure delivers the goods in a rip-roaring final act in which he ramps up the action and allows top FX man Tom Savini to paint the screen red with some astoundingly gruesome gore. Personally, I love the slow burn approach Romero takes with this with chapter in his long-running tale of world domination by zombies; it gives you a chance to get to know the characters before they have their legs ripped off, and that's a good thing, methinks. This time around, the action takes place in an underground complex where a bunch of scientists and some nasty soldiers attempt to figure out what to do about the whole 'walking dead' situation.

Day of the Dead is unmissable entertainment for those who like their movie monsters to smell bad, walk slow and have really bad teeth. The film starts brilliantly with a search party landing in a town, searching for survivors, but finding maggoty flesh-eaters are the only inhabitants. The next hour is spent introducing the characters and building the tension (with the occasional mutilated corpse or graphic gut-spill thrown in to remind you that this is still a Romero film). The final half-an-hour or so is packed with full-on over-the-top carnage, culminating in a couple of the nastiest death scenes it has been my pleasure to witness.

Super Reviewer

June 8, 2010
Day Of The Dead, the third entry in George Romero's Living dead series is more serious than usual and the special effects are more revolting this time around. Day Of The Dead is still a very accomplished film from Romero and still manages to entertain you in all its zombie glory. George Romero still manages to conjure another zombie Armageddon film with Day Of The Dead, and this film has some terrific gory moments which makes a Romero zombie flick so special. Tom Savini again takes care of the special effects, and his special effects are stunning as humans are ripped apart by decaying zombies. This is essential viewing for zombie and gore fans alike. Day Of The Dead overall is a solid third entry and won't disappoint the die-hard George Romero fan, its a satisfying film from start to finish and its definitely a winner.

Super Reviewer

January 8, 2009
Of Romero's original trilogy, this one DEFINITELY has the coolest freakin' zombies.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

November 18, 2009
The plot is amazing, but the execution not so much. The acting was pretty bad, even for a movie not requiring much talent. It's worth watching for the crazy experiments on zombies, great effects. It just seems that not as much effort was put into this as there was for its predecessors. You can feel the drag at times and the directing was not as ambitious, but this is the curse of making great movies and creating expectations for fans.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 7, 2009
Day of the Dead has a great scene with a zombie listening to a Walkman. Zombies enter the 80's in this very enjoyable horror that's not as good as the previous two but is still one of the best in the genres!

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2008
Interesting ideas kicked around, impressive special effects for their day and the acting stays just the right side of hammy

Super Reviewer

November 26, 2006
The (up until recently!) final chapter of the Romero zombie trilogy sees a research installation operating on the ragged edge in a world seemingly populated by nothing but zombies. Easily the weakest of the original three films it lacks the impact of Night, and the suspense of Dawn. The acting is rather amateurish and not a great deal happens plot-wise but it has some memorable lines (when there is no more room in hell...) and an interesting attempt to expand on the idea rather than retreading the same ground. Easily the best characters are "Frankenstein", the scientist in charge of researching the phenomenon and his zombie sidekick Bub; the scene when they listen to his tapes is genuinely chilling in an "All work and no play..." kind of way! There are some low budget but inventive effects but the biggest drawback is ironically the strength of the opening; the scene of a completely deserted city populated entirely by zombies being roused into action by the presence of a rescue helicopter is easily the best part of the film and it unfortunately fails to deliver on the promise it shows. Still, despite it's flaws and a rather anti-climactic ending, it's a solid zombie flick with some nice ideas.
Chris G

Super Reviewer

March 9, 2008
Day of the Dead is the third act of of George Romero's original Dead trilogy. Night of the Living Dead was the first encounter. Dawn of the Dead was civilization coming to grips with these events. Day of the Dead deals with a civilization collapsed from the outbreak that has consumed the world.
The story is about a group of military and science personnel who inhabit an underground base. Their purpose is to figure out a way to stop the dead epidemic. After just a month in this bunker the tension has reached a boiling point as the inhabitants are dwindling due to accidents and the belief that the head doctor is just taking his time in finding a solution.
A virtual gore fest with effects by the God of Blood Tom Savini (who also worked on Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th) Day of the Dead is, like its predecessors, more about the conflicts between the remaining living than with the dead themselves. The living dead are like a huge MacGuffin while the interactions take center stage.
Even though it's not as great as Night or Dawn, Day of the Dead still represents Romero doing his best work. His the master of the zombie film.
Christopher M

Super Reviewer

February 28, 2007
The third film in George A. Romero's seminal zombie "____ of the dead" series, Day Of The Dead clearly occurs further in time in Romero's zombie-stricken world, wherein a group of soldiers and scientists are dwelling in an underground bunker trying to survive without any contact to the outside world. The scientists, led by Sarah (Lori Cardille), the film's especially strong heroine, and the off-kilter Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty), are trying to make some sense out of what's happening while the soldiers (led by Rhodes, the stubborn and ferocious new leader) get impatient. Day has a classic setup that enables the film to be right up along with 78's Dawn Of The Dead as a classic of the genre and another Romero gem. What really sets this film apart is in that it approaches the zombie question unlike any other film has. Dr. Logan is convinced that he can train zombies into becoming docile and subject to command, even having succeeded with one particular zombie in his care called Bub. The character of Bub is another special thing about this film because he is a full-fledged character and an integral part of the story instead of just something to be stopped (and it doesn't hurt that Sherman Howard would deserve a Zombie Oscar if there were such a thing for his performance). Day Of The Dead is thrilling all the way through and satisfies on most levels; for example the practical effects done by the master Tom Savini are phenomenal, some of the best I've ever seen! Gore fans will eat this film up because there's plenty to go around and also plenty of awesome kills to satisfy the blood lust of the most diehard horror fan. It is films like this that show how George Romero set the bar for the zombie picture, and prove he will always be the genre hero and will probably never be outdone.

Super Reviewer

July 1, 2007
The third chapter of George A. Romero's zombie saga, has always been considered as an example of how low budget can hurt a great script, as what Romero conceived as the ultimate zombie epic received a modest budget that forced major changes that resulted in a less ambitious, almost low profile movie.

Despite the monetary problems, Romero's "Day" went to become a cult classic among fans, as he managed to put as much of his vision as the budget allowed him. With the aid of make-up master Tom Savini, Romero crafted some of the most haunting images of gore and violence of its time. "Day of the Dead" is not a perfect movie, and suffers the low budget as very few do; however, it is an enjoyable movie that every horror fan must see, specially in it's complete unrated version.

The events of "Day of the Dead" happen after the zombie epidemic has become uncontrollable, and humans are forced to live underground. Inside of a military bunker, the remaining survivors of a military unit try to survive. Under the regime of psychotic Capt. Rhodes (Joseph Pilato), a group of scientists lead by Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty) try to find a cure for the epidemic. The conflicts between Rhodes's army and Logan's scientists are frequent, and the sexual tension between the men and the only female member of the team, Sarah (Lori Cardille), just complicate the situation. They will face their worst enemy: themselves.

Romero's take on the army is a strong cometary about the use of military force; however, the scientists doesn't get any better as Dr. Logan seems to be more focused on his own purposes than in aiding humanity. In the middle of the chaos only Sarah seems to remain sane as she is the voice of reason most of the time. Apparently, for Romero, society is doomed to be destroyed by itself.

"Day of the Dead" is a powerful movie, the social cometary that Romero always puts in his movies doesn't feel forced or out of place; this time it is really the backbone of the movie and the center of the character's problems. As his other zombie movies, the stories are not about zombies, but about the people trapped in a claustrophobic scenario trying to work together but failing because of greed, selfishness or any other human trait.

And there is the flaw of the movie; while everything is set for a horror epic, something just doesn't work completely. The movie feels too short and the production values are indeed lower than what we saw in "Dawn of the Dead". The movie had the potential of becoming the best movie of its type but the budget just could not allow that to happen. However, a lot of credit must go to Romero for making the most with very few resources.

The acting is not outstanding, but solid. On the other hand, the make-up effects are extraordinary and a step forward in Savini's career. Here he took to the limit all he learned in the past and created memorable gory scenes.

Although flawed, it still is miles ahead most movies of its kind. "Day of the Dead" truly deserves its cult status as it is a classic of the horror genre and an inspirational movie for many filmmakers.
Drew S

Super Reviewer

January 22, 2007
Zombies are fucking sweet. I don't feel much like talking about this, because there's only so much you can say about a zombie movie without sounding pretentious, but George Romero is awesome. (Then again, I haven't seen his oft-reviled Land of the Dead, but I'm at least looking forward to Diary.)

A good way to round out the trilogy. The talking sequences in the beginning aren't nearly as bad as people make them out to be; seriously, half an hour of actual interesting dialogue is that much of a turn-off to horror movie fans? No wonder the genre is so fucked.
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