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

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.

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.

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

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, or that all the decent soldiers have either died heroic deaths already, or deserted in hope of protecting their loved ones elsewhere.
  • 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, and with her looking at calendars.
  • 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."
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: John takes advantage of this twice. After Rhodes and his soldiers locks Sarah and Bill in the zombie corral and forces John, the only helicopter pilot, to fly him and his men away, Sarah and Bill escapes through the corral. While the soldiers watch Sarah and Bill escape, John knocks out Torrez, who was holding him at gunpoint, but is subdued by Steele. When they hear Miguel using the elevator from above and Rhodes sends his men to investigate it, while Rhodes is trying to wake up Torrez, John uses this moment to tackle Rhodes, knocks him out, steals his guns, and then leaves to go rescue Sarah and Bill.
  • 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.
  • Incongruously Dressed Zombie: The zombies in the abandoned city include one in a bedraggled marching-band hat.
  • 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.
  • 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

Alternative Title(s):

Day Of The Dead