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Day of the Dead (also known as George A. Romero's Day of the Dead) is a 1985 horror film by director George A. Romero, the third of Romero's Living Dead movies. It is preceded by Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Steve Miner directed a remake which was released on February 15, 2008. Director George A. Romero describes the film as a "tragedy about how a lack of human communication causes chaos and collapse even in this small little pie slice of society".[1]

Plot[edit | edit source]

An undead apocalypse has ravaged the Earth whilst America's last surviving humans study them from within an underground military establishment. The survivors in the film are horrified at the prospect that they "are the only ones left", creating a crisis within human civilization over whether or not the idea of human society should be continued or abandoned. The living characters in the film are made up of three distinctive groups, each of whom have been given a task by the government - but since the government is no longer providing oversight (and may no longer exist) each group is becoming increasingly subject to temptations that go beyond their instructions. The scientists have been ordered to find a resolution to the epidemic but are tempted to violate nature's boundaries guarding life and death, soldiers who are assigned to protect the doctors appointed to study the zombies but are tempted to enforce fascistic martial law and destroy the specimens in an act of rebellion, and the civilians who are assigned to serve both groups with basic though necessary services like transportation and communication but are tempted to abandon the cause and, instead, live out their last days in reckless abandon.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Template:EntThis person was also part of the special effects & make-up crew.

Production[edit | edit source]

Development[edit | edit source]

Romero originally intended the film to be his undead epic; "the Gone with the Wind of zombie films."[1] Following budget disputes and the artistic need to release the film unrated, the budget of the film was cut in half, dropping from $7 million to a scant $3.5 million.[1] This forced Romero to scale back his story, rewriting the script and adjusting his original vision to fit the smaller budget.[2]

Filming took place in the fall of 1984 at locations in Pennsylvania and Florida. All above ground scenes were filmed at several locations around Florida, where Romero was living at the time. Underground scenes were filmed in a former mine shaft located near Wampum, Pennsylvania, which had been converted into a long-term storage facility for important documents. Though the mine maintained a constant temperature of about 50 F, its high humidity played havoc with the crew's equipment and props. Mechanical and electrical failures were a constant problem throughout filming, and caused several of special effects leader Tom Savini's props to fail during the filming of crucial scenes. The remote location also complicated the transportation of crew members and equipment. "Zombie" extras were recruted from among the citizens of Pittsburgh, with preference given to those who had worked on previous Romero films. Extras were paid $1.00 for their services, and given a hat that read "I was a Zombie in Day of the Dead".

The film was given a very limited release.[1] This is chronicled in the documentary "The Many Days of Day of the Dead" on the 2-disc Anchor Bay special edition DVD of the film.[1] Some of the original concepts and characters remain, but the film differs greatly from Romero's original script,[3] as stated by actress Lori Cardille: Template:Cquote

Casting[edit | edit source]

Joe Pilato was cast as "Rhodes", a sadistic and fascistic U.S. Army Captain who wants to declare militaristic rule over the others. As stated by Pilato "He pretty much just gave it to me. I don't know if he auditioned other people, but it was very quick. I came in and it was like, "You got it!."[4] Pilato had acted in two prior films directed by Romero, the first being Pilato's debut Dawn of the Dead and the second being Knightriders, in between those films he played his first lead role in a film entitled Effects.[4] In an interview Pilato was asked if Romero "had him in mind", Pilato stated that one of the reasons why he got the role was because of the budget being scaled down from 7 to 3.5 million.[4]

Release and reception[edit | edit source]

The film was widely criticized upon release, though in recent years it has become a cult classic and developed a reputation as one of the best films in the series.[2][5] Fans of the previous films were disappointed as the plot is less sweeping in nature and the film sported a much darker tone. The characters were also portrayed as unsympathetic and unpleasant. The film has gone on and grossed over 30 million dollars worldwide.[6] Day of the Dead would gross most of its gross revenue when the film was released internationally on VHS format, and later DVD and Blu-ray. This was in lieu of the film flopping when it was released to domestic cinema.[7]

Reception[edit | edit source]

Based on 28 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Day of the Dead had a high approval rating by 22 critics in Rotten Tomatoes' and rotten by 6, receiving a 79% approval rating,[8] becoming at the time of its release the lowest approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes of any of the films in Romero's Dead series.[9][10] Both Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead have garned a 95% approval rating.[9][10]

Day of the Dead was given a limited release on July 3, 1985 and a wide release on July 19, 1985.[11]. It opened to mixed reviews, with some critics complaining that the film was too depressing and slow. Roger Ebert, who reacted favorably to other films of Romero's Dead Series[12][13][14], gave Day of the Dead one and a half stars.[15] BBC reviewer Almar Haflidason stated "It benefits from a far larger budget than its predecessors, but suffers from a story as malnourished as the zombies that are chewing it up," Haflidason would go on to give the film three out of five stars.[16] As noted by the New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin "Yes, there are enough spilled guts and severed limbs to satisfy the bloodthirstiest fan. But these moments tend to be clustered together, and a lot of the film is devoted to windy argument. "[17] Allmovie reviewer Keith Phipps stated that: "The last, to date at least, of George Romero's living dead films is in many respects the least interesting, although it's not for a lack of ambition."[18] Day of the Dead would peak at 23 on the Billboard chart Top VHS Sales in 1986 a year after its initial release.[19]

Despite its lackluster critical reception, the film grossed $5.8 million domestically.[1] It fared much better internationally, grossing $28.2 million outside of the United States.[6] Day of the Dead's total gross is a little over $34 million.[6] The film is also noted for its special effects work, notably Tom Savini's make-up, he was honored his second time in 1985 with a Saturn Award for Best Make-Up, the first time being with Dawn of the Dead in 1980.[20] Romero himself cites Day of the Dead as his personal favorite of his original trilogy of zombie films.[21]

Home video[edit | edit source]

The film was released on DVD on November 24, 1998 in the United States and on March 5, 2001 in the United Kingdom.[16][22] Both the theatrical and an unrated director's cut were released as a special editions containing identical bonus features, the DVD uses a Dolby Digital sound and was released in the United Kingdom in a region 2 DVD.[16] According to the Blu-ray version of Day of the Dead was released october 2, 2007.[23] The Blu-ray edition included many special features, including two audio commentary tracks with writer-director George A. Romero, Tom Savini, production designer Cletus Anderson, and lead actress Lori Cardille.[23] There is also a interview with fellow filmmaker and self-proclaimed Romero fan, Roger Avary.[23] It also includes two documentaries, the first one is en-titled The Many Days of 'Day of the Dead, which focuses on the original script and the budget, it also included information about shooting in the Gateway Commerce Center.[23] What is also mentioned is the casting details. The second documentary entitled Day of the Dead: Behind the Scenes, focuses mostly on make-up effects.[23]

Popular culture[edit | edit source]

Near the end of Resident Evil, the protagonist Alice walks outside of her quarantine into a ravaged city street jammed with traffic. The camera pans past a newspaper blowing in the wind stating "The Dead Walk!", a direct homage to George Romero's work on Day of the Dead. Another homage is one episode of Stroker & Hoop featured the characters battling zombies using guns made by Double-Wide. They turn out to fire only sunlight, to which he claims because the film is called Night of the Dead and not Day of the Dead to hint out their weakness to sunlight. Coroner Rick yells at him "That was the sequel!"

The song "M1A1", from the self-titled 2001 Gorillaz album samples the pulsing synthesizers and cries of "Hello! Is anyone there?" from the opening of the film.[24] The song "Hip Albatross", also by Gorillaz, features a clip of Terry Alexander's dialogue.[25] Furthermore, the artwork for the song "November has Come" off of the Gorillaz' 2005 album Demon Days has a picture of a calendar pinned to a brick wall set to the month of October with all the dates marked off in red Xs (reminiscent of the opening scene in Day of the Dead).[24]

The song "Battlefield", from the This is my battlefield 2004 Panzer AG album samples Captain Rhodes asking one of his soldiers: "You think he want to walk around after his dead? You think he want to be one of these things?"

The band Through the Eyes of the Dead sampled a clip at the beginning of the song "Between the Gardens that Bathe in Blood", released on the Scars of Ages EP.

The film "Resident Evil: Extinction," incorporates many plot points, such as trying to train a zombie to be human, or in a deleted scene when trying to capture zombies to experiment on. Also, the idea of an underground facility and how the floor moves up without any indication on the surface (impossible to know it was there) is also very similar.

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

Main article: Day of the Dead (soundtrack)

The soundtrack was released in 1985 the same year as the film; it includes 11 tracks, all of which was composed and performed by John Harrison.[26] The vocals came from Sputzy Sparacino who is the lead singer of Modern Man and Delilah on the tracks "If Tomorrow Comes" and "The World Inside Your Eyes".[26] The album would be released in 2002 with a limited release of 3000 copies, the limited release included a 12 page booklet with information from Harrison and Romero regarding the score.[26]

Sequel and remake[edit | edit source]

An unofficial quasi-prequel was released in 2005, entitled Day of the Dead 2: Contagium. Although it is advertised as an official sequel as Taurus Entertainment Company hold the rights to the original film, no one from the original Day of the Dead had any involvement in the film.[27]

A loose remake of the film was released straight to DVD on April 8.[28] Little of the original plot exists, with only a few basic elements remaining; notably the underground army base near the end of the movie, and some of the characters names.[29][29]

Almost two decades later, a follow-up to Day of the Dead titled Land of the Dead[1] was released, expanding upon themes about the undeads' recollection of past memories and lifestyles and humankind's present day frame of mind when confronted with crisis.

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