The Darkest Day in Horror
On this day in Horror, July 3rd, 1985, Day of the Dead was born to a select number of theaters nation wide. The third and final chapter in George A. Romero’s epic living dead trilogy, Day of the Dead was proceeded by Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead and as any Romero purist will understand, the stories weren’t so much about the undead (sure, zombies are a big part in a zombie movie, but a movie with only zombies would be rather boring, like staring at gold fish bumping into each other in a bowl); the stories were about the people who survive, or I should say, attempt to survive. In Night of the Living Dead (1968) the story surrounded the “silent majority,” a joke at Tricky Dick regarding the Vietnam War and the 1960’s counterculture movement. Dawn of the Dead (1978) was, more or less, about the folly of consumerism and the importance of community. Day of the Dead was, in Romero’s own words, “[a] tragedy about how a lack of human communication causes chaos and collapse even in this small little pie slice of society.” Day of Dead also alluded to the state of uniformity, that is, we all, in some way, wear uniforms. In the film, the different “uniforms,” be that of the scientist, solider, or weed smoking helicopter pilot, are all searching for our own way to live whilst maintaining a sense of community, but when communication breaks down, said community tumbles and folks begin to find it hard pressed avoiding being eaten alive. Fundamentally, all the films depicted scared people reacting in all the wrong ways in the face of the undead horde.
Critics of the film thought it was slow and depressing, unlike the first two living dead movies. Even though I’d consider myself a Romero purist, I would have to agree. The film was a bit slow and rather droll, but being that this was the “final chapter,” it would have to be depressing, considering how horrible folks try to survive in horror movies. Which of course, says something about ourselves, why horror movies are even popular in the first place, because we know we react to chaos stupidly. We yell at the girl on screen for going out into the woods, alone, to investigate a strange noise, but even though we’re yelling at her now, don’t you think, at least one of us, would do the very same thing?
With that being said, Day of the Dead, for me at least, was a positive 9/10 stars. The beat of the story was steadily ominous (perfect for a Romero zombie flick) and Tom Savini (make-up effects) was at the top of his game. Happy Birthday Day of the Dead, aka, “The Darkest Day in Horror,” and thank you for disturbing my sleep for many a year with images of torsos being torn apart and creepy hands coming out of the walls!
If you dare, check out the trailer below.