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Day of the Dead - classic horror DVD / cult horror DVD / zombie horror DVD review
OPEN GRAVES Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy, Anthony Dileo Jr.
Director: George A. Romero   Distributor: Starz / Anchor Bay
DVD release: 19 August 2003   Runtime: 102 minutes (2 discs)
Format: Anamorphic, Color, DTS Surround Sound, DVD, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Aspect ratio 1.85:1, Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital Surround EX, DTS-ES, Dolby Surround 2.0), Audio commentaries, The Many Days of Day of the Dead, Day of the Dead: Behind the Scenes, Gateway Commerce Center Promo, Audio interview w/ Richard Liberty, Trailers, TV spots, Still gallery, Director bio

George A. Romero's DAY OF THE DEADIf you are a fan of the undead, then you already know that Day of the Dead (1985) was the third installment in George A. Romero's "Dead" films, following Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Night of the Living Dead (1968). In the previous films, Romero explored the topics of racism and consumerism. This time out, the movie isn't so bold. Times had changed: it was now the Reagan-era '80s. It was harder to make a statement (or make them scary) with this zombie film because just a few years prior, Michal Jackson's Thriller video upped the ante on special effects makeup, and the previously slow-moving zombies had now been seen dancing as smoothly as Fred Astaire.

This film has the same concept as Romero's other films: a small cadre of survivors fighting among each other as they figure out the best way to survive this plague of the dead coming back to life. In the military contingent, you have the leader, Captain Rhodes (Joe Pilato), who quickly morphs into a dictator over the scientists lead by Sarah (Lori Cardille). But instead of the zombies being on their home turf in Pittsburgh, Romero sets this movie in an abandoned missle silo in Florida (though they really shot in a mine shaft in Pittsburgh). Of course, aboveground the zombies have overrun America.

DAY OF THE DEAD - scientists vs. soldiers

The conflict of the film is twofold: Can the humans get along to survive the zombie onslaught, and can the scientists find a cure or an antidote to hinder the zombie progress fast enough to keep the ever-frustrated soldiers from turning on them? I can't say that this is a great conclusion to a trilogy since it was a box-office flop. Romero finally got a decent budget, but the studio wanted an R-rated film.The initial seven million dollars was cut in half so Romero could keep his vision of the film alive. Also, Romero went on to make two more, Land of the Dead (2005) and Diary of the Dead (2007). There is one more coming in Survival of the Dead (2010), and when will Twilight of the Dead be on its way?

Bub meets Mozart in DAY OF THE DEADBut if you are a diehard fan, Day boasts a couple memorable elements. First, the makeup is greatly improved. More "featured" zombies get full appliances instead of just a quick smear of blue (can't knock Romero or Tom Savini for this element in Dawn, because they had a very small $650K budget). Second is the increase of gore: a lot more headshots, guts being torn, appendages being ripped off, blood spurting, etc. etc. etc.

Third is the evolution of the zombies - or, more accurately, zombie in Bub. For horror officiandos, Bub is memorable for several scenes: his listening to Mozart on a Walkman and, more notably, when Capt. Rhodes gets his come-uppance and a salute from Bub.

Though it it can't compare with the other two movies, Day of the Dead's strong gore factor and darker, more morbid features help it stand on its own two feet.
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reviewed by Bobby Blades
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