Day of the Dead (1985)

I think it’s fairly safe to assume most people haven’t seen the majority of the Night of the Living Dead sequels, Dawn of the Dead being the exception. That’s just kind of how it goes, right? Tell people the upcoming Hellraiser film is the 11th in the franchise and their eyes go wide. Even I haven’t seen most of these zombie films before watching them for October of the Living Dead. But I found myself surprised at how much I liked Day of the Dead! The zombie costumes looked better, the pacing was better, and Bub was a precious cinnamon roll that I would die for. Who’s that? Well…

Set some time after the zombie apocalypse when it’s theorized the dead outnumber the living 400,000 to 1, this story follows a joint operation between the military and some scientists to find out what can be done about all these reanimated dead shambling about. Sarah (Mrs. Lori Cardille) is our protagonist who is done with everyone’s shit. The newest leader of the military, Rhodes (Joseph Pilato who also had a minor role in Dawn of the Dead) is a petty tyrant who thinks the scientists are wasting his time and resources, and Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty) is mostly referred to as “Dr. Frankenstein” and is getting information on how zombies work, but mostly by using some extremely questionable and immoral methods. Don’t tell anyone he used the body of the previous major, and let’s not ask if he was responsible for the man’s off-screen death! After dumping her loser boyfriend Miguel (Anthony Dileo Jr.), Sarah hangs out with this movie’s ambiguously gay couple, John (Terry Alexander) and Bill (Jarlath Conroy) away from the very antagonistic military assholes. Meanwhile, Logan has not only pacified a zombie he calls Bub (Sherman Howard, who had a Junior Mint dropped in his body during surgery on Seinfeld), but has demonstrated that Bub can learn as well as retains memories, like when he sees Rhodes and salutes. Things fall to shit when Miguel fucks up, gets bit, and is indirectly responsible for the deaths of two soldiers while collecting zombies for experimentation. Rhodes kills Logan and another scientist, and demands that John fly him and the soldiers away in his helicopter. As Miguel lets in a bunch of zombies as a last dying act of… something, everything goes somehow even more to shit. Bub finds the body of Dr. Logan and is sincerely saddened by the sight. He picks up a gun and slowly goes stalking for Rhodes, who he shoots several times before a pack of zombies find and devour him. He even gives the villain a passive-aggressive salute before he leaves. You go, Bub! Meanwhile, Sarah, John, and Bill get attacked, but wait, that was one of her nightmare jump-scares we’ve had a couple times throughout the movie–the three of them escape and the movie ends on them relaxing on a beach somewhere.

If you would’ve told me that what is effectively “Night of the Living Dead III” would not only be good but that I would feel sympathy for a zombie, I’m not sure I would’ve believed you. But I definitely enjoyed this more than Dawn of the Dead, which I’m sure is blasphemy. Now that I’ve had a second movie in the franchise that I liked, I am prepared for the rest of the month to just be shit. Here’s to hoping some of them are at least hilariously bad!

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One thought on “Day of the Dead (1985)

  1. Pingback: Land of the Dead (2005) | Chwineka Watches

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