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Day of the Dead

Entry updated 2 August 2020. Tagged: Film.

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Film (1985). Laurel. Directed by George Romero. Written by Romero. Cast includes Terry Alexander, Lori Cardille, Richard Liberty, Joseph Pilato and Howard Sherman. 101 minutes, cut to 100 minutes. Colour.

Romero's plan, after showing the initial Zombie attacks in Night of the Living Dead (1968) and the total breakdown of society in Dawn of the Dead (1978), was to complete the trilogy with a film showing a new coalition between humans and controlled zombies. Partly for budgetary reasons, he settled for something less ambitious, though some of the rejected material surfaced later in Land of the Dead (2005). An Underground military/storage base is used by a small company of scientists and soldiers in their desperately rushed study of zombie behaviour. Can they be controlled? What causes the infection? The behaviour of both groups becomes increasingly psychotic, with one scientist (Liberty) profaning the military dead by using their bodies to reward zombies in a B F Skinner-style attempt at conditioning, and the senior military officer (Pilato) treating the scientists with insane violence and contempt. One almost likeable zombie, well played by Sherman, shows signs of human memory. Only three people, including the intelligent woman scientist (Cardille) who is the point-of-view character, escape to uncertain sanctuary in this small-scale, beautifully paced, claustrophobic film. Day of the Dead, copiously illustrated with scenes of dismemberment and cannibalism, is sickening, but as ever Romero contrives to give metaphoric resonance to his exploitation-movie images. [PN]

see also: Monster Movies.

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