Review: ‘Day of the Dead’

images-1Dennis suggests Day of the Dead (in Horror).  Oh, Day of the Dead, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:
1. You’re the third entry in director George A. Romero’s zombie saga and, until the stunningly mediocre Land of the Dead, the worst of the lot; yet I own thee, and have watched thee a dozen times at least.
2.  Your concept (the zombies have essentially won, and a handful of scientists and tetchy soldiers are holed up in a makeshift lab complex in an old mine, wearily looking for some way to keep humanity alive) is compelling, and suffused with a mixture of horror, desperation, and melancholy.
3.  Your soundtrack, by Modern Man, is easily the most evocative, and weirdly moving score I’ve ever heard in a horror movie.  If it exists somewhere on CD, I would buy it  (or someone could buy it for me and send it c/o Videoport 151 Middle St. Portland, Maine 04101) and listen to it whenever I’m feeling decidedly odd.  Which is often.
4.  Bub the zombie.  (Although the trend towards humanizing the zombies is played out to a silly degree in Land of the Dead, Howard Sherman’s Bub is actually kind of moving, and Sherman gives the best performance in the movie- fun fact: Sherman was the formerly-flabby ‘triangle artist’ in the Junior Mint episode of Seinfeld).
5. Your performances, while, um, let’s just say, of variable quality, have some highlights.  Terry Alexander’s heroic John (though his Jamaican accent gets a little dodgy at times) is head and shoulders above the rest; dude’s got charisma.  Lori Cardille, as our main protagonist Sarah, is very odd-looking and nobody’s professional actress, but she’s all the more affecting because of it, I think;  watch the scene down in the cavern when she has to amputate her former lover’s arm and then face off against the soldiers- that’s genuinely good acting.  Jarlath Conroy’s Irish radioman (while, of course, taking nips out of his flask every ten seconds), has some good moments, even though his accent comes and goes, too (and he may actually be Irish…).  And then there’s Joe Pilato who, as the villainous Captain Rhodes, gives what I maintain to be the single worst performance ever imagescommitted to film in the history of the world.  Man-oh-man!  Wow!  I just have to watch it for yourself.  I’ve actually sought out movies he’s appeared in since, just to see if he’s as awesomely awful in them;  weirdly, he’s always relatively competent in them.  But, here…just…wow…
6.  Your awesome soundtrack, and your line, “Hello?  Is there anyone there?”  is sampled, to great effect, in the Gorillaz song “M1, A1”.
7.  Your death scene for Rhodes’ is pretty damn epic, with his “Choke on them!” final line being hilariously awesome.   (This scene, minus the line, is paid tribute in the near-perfect homage/spoof Shaun of the Dead).

8.  You’re not the 2007 remake, which makes you look like Ikiru in contrast.
9.  You have no ‘fast zombies’.  Which are stupid.

Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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