Halloween Countdown: Day of the Dead



(In anticipation of the coolest day of the year, this month-long series will offer one recommended horror flick a day up through Oct. 31.)


DAY OF THE DEAD (1985). George Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead has long been considered a classic, as has its 1979 sequel Dawn of the Dead. As for this third installment — well, it's considered anything but a classic, yet it's better than the reputation it garnered upon its original release, when it quickly became apparent that this was the runt of its particular cinematic litter. Set in an underground military bunker, this finds a group of scientists, intent on studying the zombies in the hopes of finding a cure, engaged in a mental tug-of-war with the trigger-happy soldiers who would be just as content wiping out everybody (scientists and zombies alike) who vexes them. Largely missing is the primal horror of the first film and the sharp satire of the second, yet what remains isn't bad, with some of Romero's interesting ideas and Tom Savini's gory effects triumphing over some amateurish acting (major exception: Howard Sherman, who's effective, even touching, as Bub the domesticated zombie). Interestingly, this movie basically shares the same philosophy as the more recent — and more acclaimed — zombie flick 28 Days Later: A flesh-eating monster may be nobody's idea of a desirable companion, but he's no worse than a spirit-sapping military man.

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