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December 2010

Day Of The Dead

cast: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Richard Liberty, and Sherman Howard

director: George A. Romero

97 minutes (18) 1985
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Arrow blu-ray region B

RATING: 7/10
review by William N. Dyer

Day Of The Dead

A small group of soldiers, scientists, and civilians, based in a missile silo/ disused mine are trying to develop countermeasures to eliminate or cope with the world above which is overrun by zombies. The military capture zombies, which are brought down into the base and the scientists experiment on them.

The film is full of conflict and tension and there are many moments of horror and surprise. Romero is a master of suspense, and the visual effects are excellent, especially considering that this was done in the days before CGI digital enhancement. I'm not an aficionado of horror but this is a gripping story regardless of its genre. The acting is believable and the zombies have an air of horror and terror in spite of their slowish gait.

The quality of the video is good but lacking an edge due to the film's age and budget. The audio is clear and the soundtrack unobtrusive to the extent that I don't remember it. The effects put together by Tom Savini are as good as the best of today and are very effective. If you care to, you can go beyond the entertainment value of the film and consider the many social and political issues raised, and then you can feel the depth at which Romero works.

Vivisection, the military/ civilian balance of power, fascism as played by Joe Pilato coming across in a maniacal way and getting some of the best one liners ("Choke on 'em"), the mad doctor as 'Frankenstein' playing with monsters and body parts, the cool Afro-Caribbean pilot and sidekick wanting to chill out on some island free of zombies, unthinking soldiers of the cannon fodder type with one exception, incipient intelligence in a 'tame' zombie called Bub, one sane doctor trying to hold the whole thing together, helping her lover unsuccessfully as it happens, and facing the annihilation of the facility and the personnel by the zombies released into the silo.

Day Of The Dead, in spite of the horror and gore, has a happy ending, at least as far as one is allowed to think. Well worth a watch; the quality comes through.

This exclusive 25th anniversary, two-disc collector's edition contains: blu-ray disc of the theatrical feature (1080p) with 5.1 HD DTS or 2.0 sound; commentary with the special effects team including Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger, Everett Burrell, and Mike Deak; Joe Of The Dead featurette, travelogue footage.

Disc two (DVD only): The Many Days Of The Dead documentary, behind-the-scenes with zombies footage, audio recollections of Richard Liberty, TV ads for Day Of The Dead, trailers for Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead, Romero zombography, photo gallery, souvenirs of the 'Dead, Wampum mine promo.



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