Dia De Los Muertes
Ah, and you thought SHOCKTOBER! was over. We still have this wonderful post-Halloween holiday. So I can’t remember where I read this unique, insightful description of 1985’s DAY OF THE DEAD as “one of the most depressing dispatches from the battle of the sexes” — though I’m certain it must have been a review from the gilded pages of CINEFANTASTIQUE — which is not exactly the kind of critique one might expect from a film ostensibly about flesh-eating zombies and their victims. George Romero’s long-awaited follow-up to his Dead series received mixed critical notices yet still made a profit (unrated as DAWN OF THE DEAD) though it’s certainly well-regarded today, primarily for Howard Sherman’s classic portrayal of “Bub,” Romero’s first supra-intelligent ghoul and Joe Pilato’s scene and reel chewing performance as the angry, unhinged Captain Rhodes. Tom Savini also reaches a triumphant plateau in terms of zombie deaths and make-up effects (my favorite being the shovel decapitation), which take somewhat of a backseat to the bickering scientists and military plotline. Lori Cardille stars as Sarah, a take-charge scientist trying to keep her team together while Rhodes threatens a coup in their underground laboratory lair. Their profane verbal duels comprise a chunk of the film, with Romero wisely keeping the implied threats of sexual and physical violence just under the surface. DAY OF THE DEAD is melancholy the way the others are not, lacking the midnight movie espirit of DAWN, even though the trilogy ends of an optimistic note. As stated, Sherman’s Bub is a great creation, Romero’s chance to do a Karloffian monster character (note that Rhodes calls the manic Dr. Logan, “Frankenstein”). And the penultimate moment betwixt Bub and Rhodes is classic genre cinema. So…remember.