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"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."
Dr. Logan

Day of the Dead is a 1985 horror film by director George A. Romero, the third of his Living Dead Series movies. It is preceded by Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978). Romero has described 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 prequel called Day of the Dead 2: Contagium from 2005 which nobody from the original movie had any involvement with. 2018 saw a loose reboot/remake/whatever of the original entitled Day of the Dead: Bloodline.

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:

  • The Alcoholic: McDermot, who is Drowning My Sorrows. He also just happens to be Irish...
  • Alliterative Title: Day of the Dead.
  • 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. They are all complete jerks, Rhodes especially being an utter psycho.
  • 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. He's the only one that treats Bub as a human being (well, of sorts) rather than a monster.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: When Steele is cornered by the zombies, he crosses himself before putting the gun in his mouth so he won't be eaten alive.
  • Big Bad: As all too often happens in Romero's zombie films, the true bad guy is a human or at least humanity and its various faults. In this case we have Captain Rhodes, the slimy, jerkish, domineering, would-be tyrant whose attempts to bully others and assume control winds up killing most of what's left of the staff.
  • 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.
  • The Brute: Steele. He displays an equal amount of Dumb Muscle and Stout Strength.
  • 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.
  • 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."
    • When Dr. Logan shuts the lights off in Bubís room in one scene, a rendition of "The Gonk" can be heard briefly.
  • 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film is definitely darker compared to the first two films with the gore, violence, drama, and profanity being completely amped up. This even applies to the zombies which are much more grotesque than the zombies from the previous movies, with their flesh being badly rotted and mutilated.
    • Fridge Brilliance applies to the zombies' appearance; Dawn of the Dead took place at roughly the start of the zombie apocalypse. It's never stated how much time has passed since then, but with everybody accepting that they might be the only humans left alive and with their sanity slowly deteriorating, it's implied that quite a while has passed. The fact that the zombies here appear much more decayed than before makes sense.
  • Daylight Horror: The word "day" is even in the title. Multiple scenes showcasing the bunker's exterior show the very clear day... and the endless zombie hordes surrounding the place.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Several instances.
    • Feeling suicidal, Miguel lures a large crowd of zombies to the underground base through the elevator and he bites on his dog tags as the zombies start devouring him as the elevator descends to the base.
    • When the zombies have overrun the base, Torrez is torn apart while a zombie sticks two of its fingers in his eye socket and pulls his head off as his screaming dies away and Rickles is shown laughing as the zombies tears him apart which later turns into screaming.
    • The most iconic scene is when Rhodes has his lower part of his body pulled apart by a crowd of zombies and his last words to them were "Choke on 'em!".
  • Dirty Coward: Cpt. Rhodes fits this trope to a T. He freaks out when the zombies find a way downstairs (courtesy of Miguel), flees with the only available vehicle and even locks his own men out of the compound.
  • Dream Intro: The film opens with Sarah having a nightmare about dozens of zombie arms bursting out of a wall and overwhelming her.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Captain Rhodes, as with the other soldiers, is initially introduced as your typical Jerkass military meathead who really couldn't care less about the scientists' problems. In the meeting scene soon afterwards, he orders Steele to shoot Sarah for disobeying his orders. Steele takes it as a joke, so Rhodes makes it quite clear that he's not joking when he threatens to kill Steele instead. The other soldiers are not too likable either, but even they're clearly shocked to find out their leader doesn't enjoy defiance too much.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner. Say this much for Captain Rhodes: when he's about to be eaten by a mass of zombies, he provides one of the finest examples of this trope. His final words as the zombies start to eat his intestines? "Choke on 'em!"
  • Famous Last Words: "Choke on 'em! Choke on 'em!", from Captain Rhodes.
  • Find the Cure: Sarah and Dr. Fisher make this their priority solution to the zombie apocalypse. Captain Rhodes and his men are too impatient and frugal to fund this plan caring only about establishing sanctuary elsewhere. Dr. Logan abandons this approach and no longer appalled by their primitive, cannibalistic nature becomes deluded that (re?)civilizing them is the answer.
  • Fingore: A close-up shows a character's fingers being bitten off.
  • 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 find 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: This film is possibly the goriest in the whole series, with constant scenes of people being torn to pieces, with all the nasty shots of organs and such that includes. The first zombie we see in the movie, in the title card, with half his lower jaw missing and his tongue hanging out, really sets the tone for you can expect for the rest of the movie.
  • A House Divided: The scientists and soldiers, who are supposed to be cooperating for the good of everyone, are instead at each other's throats. In the end, nearly everyone dies because of it.
  • Hidden Depths: Two notable cases.
    • Rickles is just as racist and awful as Rhodes and Steele. However, while the zombies are tearing him apart, we get a look at his hand and see he was wearing a wedding ring. Although it looks to be his right hand, therefore it might not be a wedding ring, after all. And in the Day of the Dead: Desertion comic, it's revealed that the ring originally belonged to Bub, with Rickles stealing it from him when he was brought to Logan's lab.
    • Steele weeps and crosses himself before he commits suicide.
  • Human Resources: Dr. Logan is secretly using the flesh of fallen soldiers to help pacify the zombies during his efforts to domesticate them.
  • Incongruously Dressed Zombie: The zombies in the abandoned city include one in a bedraggled marching-band hat. The horde that Miguel unleashes by opening the fence includes a kid in a football outfit and a woman in a wedding dress. As the horde enters the halls of the facility, a clown is briefly visible.
  • It Can Think: Rhodes is seriously freaked out when the Mad Scientist demonstrates that zombies can remember things from their pre-zombification lives. Such as saluting an officer if said zombie was a veteran. Or operating an M1911 .45 pistol.
  • Ironic Echo: Bub's salute (which was one of the first things he did to showcase that It Can Think) after he shoots Rhodes.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Of the deeply ironic sort, with Bub's salute. Earlier in the film, Bub the zombie had saluted Rhodes when asked by Dr. Logan, but Rhodes had refused to return the gesture. When Bub shoots Rhodes twice and then leaves him to be eaten by the other zombies Bub gives what is obvious a sarcastic salute.
  • Jerkass: All of the soldiers, but Rhodes takes the cake as a belligerent jackass that screams his lungs out on nearly every scene (and insulting people, too), making him one of the biggest assholes in cinema.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Miguel. He's whiny and often insults Sarah. But he does give a heroic sacrifice to save his friends.
  • 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 Desserts: Captain Rhodes, after being a deranged tyrant for most of the movie, meets his end at the hands of a zombie horde that messily rips apart and devours him.
  • Just Before the End: It's either this or After the End, depending on circumstances. We're watching what may be the very last small group of people, at least in South Florida, as they teeter on the edge of breaking down and dying.
  • Large Ham: Captain Rhodes's belligerent drill sergeant screaming and Doctor Logan's Mad Scientist schtick both fit this.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Sarah does this to Miguel after his arm is bitten in the hopes of saving him. Unfortunately, Miguel is Driven to Suicide before anyone finds out whether it would have actually worked.
  • Made of Plasticine: Captain Rhodes. The horde of zombies pulls him apart like he's made out play-doh or something.
  • 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. Sarah already calls him out on this in the beginning when she thinks that the worst that he's done is using the re-animated corpse of Major Cooper, the previous commanding officer, in his experiments.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Dr. Logan's attempt at understanding what makes zombies think in order to, hopefully, tame them. With the addition of feeding the zombies he's trying to tame with recently-deceased people as an "incentive" for extra creepy.
  • Mercy Kill: After his throat is torn by a zombie bite, Miller requests this because he does not want to become "one of them". Steele grimly obliges.
  • Mildly Military: Okay, so the Zombie Apocalypse happened a few months ago. How is it that the privates are all surly fatasses in their 30s and 40s? Even in the slashed-budget days of the Carter administration when retention was a major problem, a guy who never made corporal/specialist in six years was out of the Army, period, and there was still a physical fitness standard. One wonders where the hell they found these losers.
  • The Neidermeyer: Rhodes is this this trope to an almost ridiculous degree. Constantly screaming at everyone around, attempting to take control of every situation by force, ordering his men to kill people for minor offenses... they really should have found someone more mentally stable to be in his position.
  • Nightmare Sequence: The opening scene which has zombies tearing through walls and possibly the entire movie, for that matter.
  • Oh, Crap!: Both Rhodes and the audience will have one of these when Bub suddenly pulls the slide back on a handgun, indicating that yes, he does know how to use it.
    • Steele when he comes across Bub wielding a Colt.45
    • Rhodes at the end when running from Bub, he opens a door and comes face to face with a horde of zombies. His only reaction is to scream in utter terror.
  • Oireland: McDermot. He's pretty stereotypical, including being the bunker's resident drunk.
  • 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:
    "I'M RUNNIN' THIS MONKEY FARM NOW, FRANKENSTEIN, AND I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU'RE DOIN' WITH MY TIME!"
  • Pet the Dog: Steele, who's otherwise depicted as an obnoxious and loud Jerkass, tearfully gives Miller a Mercy Kill after the latter is bitten and asks Steele to kill him.
  • Regret Eating Me: Rhodes' Famous Last Words "Choke on them" as he's about to be devoured by the zombies works as this in addition to being a "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner.
  • Sean Connery Is Going To Shoot You: On the spine of one DVD release has a picture of Captain Rhodes pointing his gun.
  • 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.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Captain Rhodes says the f-word in about half of his sentences.
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: Dr. Logan is a prime example of the archetype (even though there are two other scientists, and one of them survives). 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.
  • Undead Child: A youngster in a football outfit is seen amongst the horde that Miguel unleashes.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Torrez, who has no dialogue and hardly any screen time, gets easily devoured by zombies as while Steel and to a lesser degree Rickles who both had more character development earned slightly more time and effort to resist the zombies.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Rhodes.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: This film happens at the very height of it, with the zombies pretty much having taken over the world. Survivors — what little there is of them — are inside bunkers or islands very far away from civilization where no zombies can get in... and they can't get out.

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