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Film: Day of the Dead

"We don't have enough ammunition to 'shoot them all in the head'. The time to have done that would have been at the beginning. No, we let them overrun us. They have overrun us, you know. We're in the minority now. Something like 400,000 to 1 by my calculations."
Doctor Logan, 1985 version

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. George 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". Steve Miner directed a remake which was released on February 15, 2008, and there is an official sequel called Day of the Dead 2: Contagium which nobody from the original movie had any involvement with.

1985 Version

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.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Apocalyptic Log: When Sarah and Bill are searching through Logan's office, they decide to listen to his recorded lab notes, which quickly degenerate from clinical analysis of one of his zombie test subjects into an argument with his dead mother, where he claims that "[The zombies'] minds are talking to me," proving to them that the doctor has totally lost it.
  • Asshole Victim: Captain Rhodes, Steele and Rickles .
  • Armies Are Evil: George Romero's less than flattering opinion on the US military is particularly obvious in this film; none of the soldiers have any redeeming qualities. It could be argued that they were going insane after all the isolation and the threat of zombies.
    • Well, all except Miguel, who's an outcast from the rest of the soldiers because of racism and the fact that he's sleeping with Sarah.
      • Plus two others, Johnson and Miller, these two are pretty mellow most of the time. But they are the first two killed off.
      • Torrez wasn't so bad either. At least until the army finds out that Logan was feeding Bub the remains of their fallen comrades, where he assists Rhodes in holding the others at gunpoint. It was really just Rhodes, Steele, and Rickles that were complete assholes.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Pretty much the reason why Bub didn't harm Dr. Logan.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Sarah having nightmares about being attacked by zombies.
  • Break the Haughty: Rhodes starts out big and bad when it comes to bullying the living, treating the Zombie situation like an active war zone. However upon facing Bub who is armed, he's reduced to running, screaming and getting wounded, before becoming a screaming mess when faced with an Overrun. He does get a cool line in the end though.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Bub is shown to remember portions of his life, including saluting, shaving, and the operation of a handgun. That last one comes in handy.
  • Big Bad: Captain Rhodes
  • Continuity Nod:
    Bill: The power's off on the mainland now, in case you haven't heard. And all the shopping malls are closed.
    • Also, Rhodes contemptuously referring to John as "flyboy."
  • Daylight Horror: The word day is even in the title.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner. One of the finest. "Choke on 'em!"
  • Famous Last Words: See "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner.
  • For Science!: Dr. Logan believes he can teach the zombies good manners - an obsession that comes to a head when the soldiers guarding the place finds out he's using the corpses of their fallen comrades as positive reinforcements.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If one looks closely as Rhodes is torn in half, they'll see that a large section of his innards is a blood-covered rubber chicken.
  • Gorn: Possibly the goriest in the whole series.
  • A House Divided: Scientists vs. soldiers.
  • Hidden Depths: Steele is just as racist and awful as Rhodes and Rickles. However, while the zombies are tearing him apart, we get a look at his hand and see he was wearing a wedding ring.
  • It Can Think: Rhodes is seriously freaked out when the Mad Scientist demonstrates that zombies can remember how to use objects from their previous lives as humans. Such as operating a Colt .45 pistol.
    • He seems reluctantly impressed by Dr. Logan's achievements up until the point where Bub mumbles into the toy telephone "Hello, Aunt Alicia". This is the point when he visibly freaks out. Not even the gun display gets such a reaction out of him.
  • Ironic Echo: Bub's salute after he shoots Rhodes.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Of the deeply ironic sort, with Bud's salute.
  • Jump Scare: The infamous calendar on the wall in the beginning. The protagonist goes to look at a calendar on a wall. Suddenly, hundreds of zombie hands burst through the wall.
  • Just Before the End: It's either this or After the End, depending on circumstances.
  • Large Ham: Captain Rhodes and Doctor Logan both fit this.
  • Made of Plasticine: Captain Rhodes.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Matthew Logan, nicknamed "Frankenstein" by the soldiers, is the embodiment of this trope. He is so obsessed with his work he fails to consider how the soldiers will react to him cutting up their deceased comrades for his experiments.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory
  • The Neidermeyer: Rhodes. Holy shit, Rhodes.
  • Nightmare Sequence: The opening scene and possibly the entire movie, for that matter.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted when Captain Rhodes is shot in the shoulder and unable to do anything with that side of his torso. Then he gets shot in the leg and is essentially crippled.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Rhodes and his men. They are racist, sexist and all around bad guys when it comes to dealing with both Zombies and Civilians.
  • Precision F-Strike:
  • Regret Eating Me: See Famous Last Words.
  • Shout-Out: "Logan" and "Bub", as if to dispel any doubt, the two are listed in the opening credits together. In fact, they are the only characters to be named in the opening credits. George Romero has allegedly denied this, attributing it to coincidence.
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: Dr. Logan is a prime example of the archetype (even though there is another scientist, and she outlives him). His obsessive pursuit of understanding the undead was a harsh critique on the pursuit of scientific knowledge without practical application.
  • Thematic Series: The entire Night of the Living Dead series is loosely connected by Romero, the zombie apocalypse, and times of day.
  • Zombie Apocalypse

2008 Version

The movie opens with a group of teenagers are engaging in sexual activities in a disused bunker. Trevor's girlfriend wants to leave and so with Trevor being the transportation they all leave and find that the military has blocked off the town and there are a bunch of sick people in town. At the same time Private Bud and Corporal Cross go to visit Cross's mother who has become sick (Cross is Trevor's sister). Trevor and his girlfriend and the two privates end up taking their mother to the local hospital. At the hospital suddenly all the infected take a turn for the worse and turn into zombies with super human strength and speed, their mother as well. Trevor and girlfriend rush over to a local radio station while Bud and Cross get stuck in a cupboard, after a quick Air-Vent Passageway escape they get out, rescue the teenagers and head over the bunker at the start of the film. Bud managed to get bit but doesn't turn against other humans. At the bunker they find that the zombie attack all part of a government study of viruses. They managed to burn all the zombies in the bunker that have followed them and are last seen driving off into the distance.

Not to be confused with November 2, aka Día de los Muertos in Mexico.

This movie contains examples of:

  • After the End
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Averted. Not only do the zombies figure out this escape route immediately and destroy the vent from below, but one manages to follow them into it.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The survivors find a scientist's video log in an underground medical facility, which shows him having a psychotic episode while apparently talking to a zombie.
  • Big Bad: Dr Logan, who in this movie is a generic corrupt scientist villain.
  • Bullying a Dragon: As soon as the survivors figure out Bud isn't aggressive to humans, Salazar starts slapping him around gleefully. Nothing bad comes of it, but c'mon, What an Idiot.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Bud tells a love interest that he is a vegetarian to impress her. Later on, after he is bitten and turned into a zombie he doesn't eat people, providing a justification for his being a heroic zombie.
  • Daylight Horror: Both Averted. The remake takes place entirely at night. And is not at all horrific.
  • Deus ex Machina: Similar to the original, though in the remake Bud had not been shown to remember anything beyond following orders and his love of Sarah and he only manages to distract the zombie long enough for her to escape anyways, rather than killing it, and is torn to shreds soon after.
  • Genre Savvy: Nick Cannon/Salazar. He is, in fact, extremely Genre Savvy, figuring out that bitten = zombie and Boom, Headshot rules within minutes of the outbreak.
  • In Name Only: Hoo boy... The creators basically took a supremely generic, Uwe Boll or SyFy original movie quality zombie flick and slapped on the "Day of the Dead" title and a few character names. This movie has literally NOTHING to do with the original in terms of plot, characters, themes, competence, scariness, etc, and at times seems to actively try to stray as far from the original as possible.
  • Jump Scare: Used ad nauseum, prominently a screamer-esque appearance of a zombie right before the credits roll.
  • No FEMA Response: The Army cordons off the town in the remake.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The remake takes this to the extreme. Not only are the zombies fast, they also have the ability to leap as high as a first floor window, and crawl across ceilings.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Ving Rhames was one of the only survivors of the Dawn of the Dead remake. Though not the same character, he appears in this movie and is killed very quickly.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: In the remake, even the slightest contact with fire causes the zombies to instantly disintegrate.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In the remake, zombies that were vegetarians in life not only do not eat people, but are completely harmless. This leads to a debate on whether or not the remaining humans should kill them anyway because, well, they're zombies.
    • That said, the "vegetarian" excuse isn't entirely confirmed.
  • Zombie Infectee: A rare case in the remake where one is helpful. The new guy is hot for Meni Suvari, his corporal. After he turns, he actually saves her from the lead zombie.
  • Zombie Puke Attack: One remake cover depicts a zombie copiously vomiting on something off-camera.

D.A.R.Y.L.Films of the 1980sDeath Warmed Up
DarkmanCreator/Shout! FactoryI Come in Peace
Dawn of the Dead (2004)Zombie StoriesLand of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead (2004)Horror FilmsLand of the Dead

alternative title(s): Day Of The Dead
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