Day of the Dead (1985)

Where the Dawn of the Dead depicted the survival attempts of a small group after fleeing the city in the aftermath of what seems to be humanity losing the war against the undead, here we get to explore the idea of a world where the war was completely lost. The zombie plague has now entirely outnumbered humanity, and all that is left is just a small number of people consisting of few scientists and soldiers, all of whom are slowly breaking down psychologically as the last remnants of order and civilization dissolve and tyranny and chaos take charge in their place. It’s a natural next step in the narrative Romero had been cultivating and despite having a very obvious and natural termination point, it never seizes to be fascinating and engrossing to watch.

Romero’s choice in music is once again very interesting, it feels unconventional on its own but weirdly never that out of place. Even though this is the third movie in the series, Romero admirably still finds something new and interesting to do with the genre, while still playing with familiar themes of social commentary and how internal human conflict is always the source of our possible success and demise as a species. By this point it would be very easy to just recycle what worked before with just a new set of characters and core plot, but instead we still manage break new ground in the form of Bub, the zombie that learns to be civil and perhaps at some level, even rediscover a vague sense of his former humanity. Not only does Romero explore this odd new concept in depth, the idea of how zombies in general work gets further examination while setting up more concrete physiological rules. But back to Bub. By humanizing what has been rendered so grotesquely inhuman, Romero brilliantly leads us to a place where we see Bub to be the most innocent and compelling character in the entire movie. It’s such an odd experience to witness this terrifying, blood lusty monster so easily turn to a such sympathetic and perhaps even a tragic individual when he starts to show still  having certain human cognitive functions and emotions within his zombified brain. And it’s exactly that why the movie still has such power behind it and it miles beyond other zombie movies. It doesn’t just try to scare or disgust you, it also attempts to make you think and question just what makes us human.


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