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Film / Day of the Dead (1985)

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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. 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 communiction 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.

In 2021, Syfy greenlit a series heavily inspired by the film, exploring life in the first 24 hours of a zombie outbreak. The series premiered October 15, 2021.

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

This movie contains examples of:

  • The '80s: The date on the frontpage of the The Southern Globe newspaper at the beginning ("THE DEAD WALK!") is July 9, 1984, thereby placing the movie in this decade. Judging by the marks on Sarah's calendar in both the beginning and the end, the time that the film's events take place in is either late 1984 or late 1985, with the latter year being more probable. Also, the score by John Harrison has a distinctly 1980s feel to it, featuring heavy use of the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer along with Linn and Simmonds drum machines.
  • After the End: Unlike the first film, and the first half of the second, this one takes place well after society has completely fallen apart. Aside from the zombies, there's no trace of other people around outside the main cast.
  • The Alcoholic: McDermot, who is Drowning My Sorrows. He also just happens to be Irish...
  • Alliterative Title: Day of the Dead.
  • And Starring: And featuring Richard Liberty as "Logan," and Howard Sherman as "Bub."
  • 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; virtually none of the soldiers have any redeeming qualities, save for Pvt. Johnson, who has a civil conversation with Sarah at the start of the film, and maybe Pvt. Miller. 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. Also, some of their behavior comes down to the showdown in the mess hall, where it becomes clear to all of them that if they don't follow Rhodes' orders to the letter, he will kill any or all of them with no hesitation at all.
    • Steele is very clearly affected when he mercy-kills one of his comrades. This can be read as a Pet the Dog moment, but camaraderie also happens to be a very big deal in the military. This allows the audience to read it more ambiguously: genuine humanity or selective empathy?
  • 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. Considering he was bitten literally seconds beforehand, he was pretty much doomed either way.
  • 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.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After spending much of the film somewhat in the background, and frequently drunk, McDermott gets his big hero moment at the end when he saves John's life from a zombie right as they're on their way to escape.
    McDermott: Come along Johnny! We're countin' on ya to fly us to the promised land!
  • 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.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Why John is not worried about Rhodes: as he's the only one who can fly the helicopter, Rhodes can't kill him without screwing himself over. He thinks this also applies to Bill (because of his radio expertise) and Logan (because he "can talk him silly," meaning Logan is capable enough to persuade Rhodes not to harm him). Events prove John wrong regarding the other two.
  • 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 escape 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.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Just about every single zombie kill in the movie. Special mention goes to Torrez though... good GOD.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The film is definitely darker compared to the first two films. There's far more graphically depicted gore, the tone is significantly more cynical, the zombies themselves appear more rotted and mutilated, and the cast of characters have considerably less likable traits than the protagonists from the previous films.
    • 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. A few of the zombies from outside the gate during the fall of the facility are noticeably less "ripe," signifying them to be more "recent" arrivals, i.e., people who died and reanimated later than the others.
  • 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.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The entire movie demonstrates the various results of people crossing this. Some have horrific nightmares every night, while others succumb to stress, violent anger, and the desire to just give up.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Several instances.
    • Feeling suicidal, Miguel lures a large crowd of zombies to the underground base through the elevator and bites on his dog tags as the zombies start devouring him while 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 sockets and pulls his head off as his screaming dies away. Rickles is shown laughing as the zombies tear him apart, which later turns into screaming. Before he dies, Rickles comes across a group of zombies feasting on the recently dead body of Fisher after he was shot by Rhodes.
    • Steele is bitten on the shoulder by a zombie while attempting to kill Bub, and a big group of them starts swarming in on him through the door. Though he shoots himself to avoid this fate, his corpse is still eaten immediately afterwards.
    • 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 are "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.
  • Dwindling Party: It's mentioned that the bunker was originally staffed by 18 people, which was a skeleton crew to begin with, the project having been thrown together in a matter of days just as the zombie apocalypse overwhelmed the government. By the time the movie takes place, it's down to 12. The movie ends with three survivors. Lampshaded by John's "And then there were twelve" line when they hear from Johnson that Maj. Cooper died while he, Bill, Sarah and Miguel were away.
  • 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.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Steele, Rickles and the other soldiers are not very pleasant themselves, but it's clear in the meeting hall scene that they're as disbelieving toward Rhodes ordering Sarah's death as the civilians are. When Rhodes threatens to kill Steele instead, the other soldiers are shocked and frightened at this turn of events, and Steele himself is clearly shown to be unwilling to shoot Sarah; he was only about to do so because otherwise Rhodes would have killed him.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: The primary conflict of the movie is between abusive, chauvinistic soldiers and the undead, with civilians and scientists caught in between.
  • "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!"
  • Failed a Spot Check: Steele, ducking into a room after the zombies overrun the facility, takes aim at Bub outside the door like he has all the time in the world. However, he failed to notice the other open door of the facility behind him, or the zombie test subjects who had broken free, which leads to him being bitten and putting himself down.
  • 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 (to be fair, he has a point in that their facility has nowhere near enough resources to actually conduct effective research) and is no longer appalled by their primitive, cannibalistic nature; he becomes deluded that (re?)civilizing them is the answer.
  • Fingore: Rickles gets his fingers bitten off by zombies as he nears his death. George Romero stated that he wanted gore content as brutal as that to appear on-screen so badly that he accepted getting the film's budget slashed for the sake of keeping the film coming out as he envisioned it.
  • Foreshadowing: Doctor Logan makes a few comments about his father claiming he'd never get rich through pure research. John also mentions that the Doctor can usually talk his way out of trouble with Rhodes's bad temper. The former comes up when we hear Logan ranting to his long absent mother, a sign he's gone off the deep end. The second part comes to a head when Logan's luck runs out and Rhodes stops listening to him.
    • Sarah warns Rhodes multiple times that Salazar is a danger to himself and everyone around him and needed to be quarantined. Sure enough he has a breakdown at the worst possible time, letting the zombies into the complex.
  • 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 what he's been feeding said zombies. He's using the previously killed soldiers who died in the line of duty as food since the zombies won't touch anything else.
  • 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.
  • Ghost Town: Fort Myers (population circa 40,000 when the movie was made), the town where the main characters search for survivors in the intro, has been completely depopulated, its inhabitants either dead or zombified.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Rhodes is torn in half when the zombie horde is devouring him.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The collective moan of the undead horde. It actually manages to get loud enough to be heard over the helicopter's engine.
    • Also Torrez's screams going higher and higher in pitch as his vocal chords are being stretched when his head gets torn off.
  • The Hero: Sarah and John, though Sarah is more clearly the hero than John is until the third act.
  • Heroic BSoD: Sarah's reaction after chopping off Miguel's bitten arm, convincing Rhodes not to shoot him, and after Rhodes leaves. John has to pry the machete she used to chop Miguel's arm off out of her hands.
  • 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. A potentially devastating shootout between the factions in the meeting hall is only narrowly avoided at one point. In the end, nearly everyone dies because of it.
    • For that matter, the soldiers themselves aren't terribly unified; Rhodes forces Steele at gunpoint to shoot Sarah if she doesn't get back in her chair, and later on in the corridor four of them fight each other in a drunken brawl, almost getting Sarah involved in their punch-up before Bill pulls her out of there. Miguel is picked on by Steele and Rickles, and he ultimately lets the zombies outside into the facility, culminating in Rhodes abandoning the rest of his men to the zombies.
  • 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 band. Although in the Day of the Dead: Desertion comic, we're told 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 obviously 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.
    • Private Johnson isn't that bad either, having a civil and somewhat polite conversation with Sarah and the others after they return at the beginning while helping re-fuel the chopper, and not laughing to Rhodes' threats as much as the others did. He's also the only soldier in the messhall to actually ask a reasonable question from the civilians (about their lack of contact with Washington, D.C.) instead of threatening or belittling them. Unfortunately, he's one of the first characters to die onscreen.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Capt. Rhodes again. Not only is he a Jerkass with virtually all of his other men, but he has literally no redeeming qualities, and he's an asshole from the second he appears onscreen to the second he leaves the screen.
  • 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.
  • Kangaroo Court: Rhodes threatens to court-martial anyone who dares question his authority, and it's clear that any such court martial would ultimately turn out to be this: As there are only seven soldiers left in the facility in total, and with Rhodes being the only officer, it's very unlikely that they would even have enough personnel to conduct a proper court martial. It's also very unlikely that any of the soldiers has any legal training whatsoever to serve as a trial counsel (prosecutor) or defense counsel. What ultimately renders any pretense of due process moot is Rhodes' promise that any court martial will automatically result in the execution of the accused.
  • The Lancer: McDermott serves as this to John. When the chips are down, the oft-drunken McDermott shows he's more than capable of dispatching zombie hordes when necessary, And he directly saves John's life on the escape ladder when John is grabbed by a zombie and is out of bullets to kill it.
  • Large Ham: Captain Rhodes's belligerent drill sergeant screaming and Doctor Logan's Mad Scientist schtick both fit this. Jarlath Conroy as William McDermott also has some hammy moments, such as his "Hmmmpfh!" After killing a zombie towards the end, but far less than the other two.
  • Laughing Mad: True to his character, when the horde of zombies corner him, Rickles laughs insanely as he tries to find a way out. He's even laughing as they tear his guts open.
  • 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. 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. Although, since he hides the corpses he's cutting up in a cooler, it could be argued that he DID know what the soldiers' reaction to his cutting up of the corpses would be, and was hoping he either wouldn't be found out, or would have a breakthrough with Bub that overshadowed the steps he took to reach it. His appearance only heightens the trope, as he is only ever seen in blood-covered surgical scrubs, a lab coat that is covered in dirt and who knows what else, and he frequently looks like he hasn't seen a shower in weeks.
  • 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. Also, visually, the lab is a bloody mess and looks like something a deranged scientist would operate from.
  • 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: To say the military was scraping the barrel for manpower here is putting it lightly. Most of the soldiers are overweight, and seem to be in their late 30's or early 40's, discipline is non-existent, one of them is clearly growing pot outside the bunker and the acting commanding officer is a shrieking psychopath who enforces his authority through violence.
    • A bit of Freeze-Frame Bonus actually helps explain this: Captain Rhodes wears the subdued shoulder sleeve insignia of the 99th U.S. Army Reserve Command, which provided administrative and logistical support to Standard Federal Region III (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia). These men are not full-time professional soldiers. They're Reservists, men with civilian lives and careers and families — Rickles wears a wedding band — and they've been plucked from their lives and sent a thousand miles south on a half-baked mission outside of their operational area that pretty much anyone can see has no serious scientific methodology, no military mission suited to their probable specialties, and no real prospect of achieving anything.
  • The Neidermeyer: Rhodes is 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.
    • They did. Captain Rhodes isn't the commanding officer of this detachment; Major Cooper is. Rhodes is probably the executive officer, and (as noted above) he isn't actually an active-duty officer, but a Reserve Infantry Officer. Joseph Pilato did play a police officer at the dock in Dawn of the Dead (1978), so maybe Rhodes is actually a shell-shocked police officer who absconded from Philadelphia only to be activated by the Army and thrust into a subordinate role he never wanted on a frankly stupid mission he doesn't believe in. The man may have already tried to escape once, only to be forced into an even worse position.
  • Nightmare Sequence: The opening scene which has zombies tearing through walls and possibly the entire movie, for that matter.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The zombies in this movie are given the greatest nickname of all time: Dumbfucks.
  • 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.
    • Sarah and McDermott have this clearly written on their faces when they overhear Dr. Logan's tapes and hear that he's not only having conversations with his non-existent dead mother, but is doing...SOMETHING to an unseen zombie that is maybe best left unknown, because it sounds hideous. They only barely have time to realize that Logan is truly and completely insane before Rhodes and his remaining men swarm in and only add fuel to the fire by executing Logan and taking Sarah, McDermott, and Dr. Fisher captive.
    • 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.
    • John gets one As they're climbing the escape ladder and is grabbed by a zombie. He leans over to shoot it but his remaining gun is empty. Thankfully, McDermott saves the day.
  • Oireland: McDermott. He's pretty stereotypical, including being the bunker's resident drunk, and a full on Irish accent.
  • 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:
  • 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' 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.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Bill dispatches a zombie in the mines by slicing it with a shovel from the mouth. However, the zombie is still functional as it still looks around.
  • Sanity Slippage: Bill and John seem to be holding up as good as anyone could under the circumstances, but everyone else has their sanity hanging by a thread, with Miguel being by far the worst, as he's one loud noise away from a complete breakdown. He's the first to go over the edge after being bitten by a zombie and having his arm amputated, leading to him letting the zombies into the base
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The spine of one DVD release has a picture of Captain Rhodes pointing his gun.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The zombie hands bursting out the wall to grab Sarah in the opening nightmare is a homage to Roman Polański's Repulsion.
    • One of the objects Dr. Logan presents to Bob is a copy of 'Salem's Lot.
    • "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. However 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. Though excessive profanity is the least heinous of his characteristics.
  • Small, Secluded World: The movie is limited to an army base set up in an old mining facility, with only a handful of survivors appearing in the whole story. It's ambiguous whether or not they really are the last surviving humans, as while they've been trying to find other survivors using radio with no success, the equipment they have access to is old (according to Bill, most of it dates back to World War II!) and the range is limited since all the radio relays on the mainland are offline, leaving them with only parts of southern Florida. And even then, there's no guarantee other survivors would have access to a radio themselves or electricity to power it; even in the modern era, only a small amount of people worldwide have access to radio transceivers.
  • 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.
  • Stepford Smiler: John displays some traits. He's largely upbeat in group settings, but while sharing a private drink with Sarah, he reflects on his own personal belief that the zombie horde is God punishing humanity and that the situation is so hopeless that all they can do is enjoy their limited time.
  • Thematic Series: The entire Night of the Living Dead series is loosely connected by Romero, the zombie apocalypse, and times of day.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Captain Rhodes, after his superior officer Major Cooper dies. While Cooper is implied to have not been very pleasant himself, Rhodes takes it to a whole new level when he threatens to have Sarah killed, after which he makes it clear that any person in the facility who questions his authority will be executed following a court martial. It's actually stated by Fisher that while Cooper was an asshole, he was still "a sweetheart" compared to Rhodes.
  • Undead Child: A youngster in a football outfit is seen amongst the horde that Miguel unleashes.
  • Undeath Always Ends: An early draft of the script plays with this trope: John is injured and dies at the finale but for some reason his body doesn't resurrect, not even after several days have passed. Just in case, the rest of the survivors organize themselves to keep watch on the body (that they don't bury) all of the time, and won't believe he's truly dead until the corpse has rotten beyond any possibility to move, but by the time the credits end (with the camera focused on the body) the dead man hasn't even twitched, hinting that whatever is making zombies exist may be finally wearing off.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Rhodes has one after being shot twice by Bub in the hallway, pathetically screaming "COME AHNNNNNNNN!" over and over. He knows everything is lost and he's about to die courtesy of Bub... and then gets a final kick in the face when he opens the door to find a horde of zombies he can't fight waiting to eat him on the other side.
  • Villain Has a Point: While he's a complete bastard, Rhodes still makes a lot of logical points that are hard to argue with. He spent months surviving the Zombie Apocalypse inside an unused mine, protecting the scientists who were supposed to be working on a cure. Then he finds out the chief scientist has wasted countless hours training a zombie to be docile, plans on doing it to other zombies, and was feeding said zombie the bodies of Rhodes' deceased friends. He rightfully points out that he and the rest of the soldiers risked their lives everyday for a pointless cause, demanding that they scrap the plan and simply take a helicopter out of the mines in search of someplace safe.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Torrez, who has one line, 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.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Implied to be the case with Logan, who mentions that his father, a wealthy doctor, disapproved of his choice of career as a researcher, saying that he would never become rich in that line of work. There's also the fact that Logan named Bub after said father.
  • Wham Shot: The soldiers treat Bub as a joke until Bub properly racks the slide of an unloaded handgun.
  • What Does She See in Him?: We don't know how long Miguel and Sarah were together, or what he was like before the zombie apocalypse and during its early stages, but from the moment you see him he is a wreck, and his first proper speaking line towards her is him deriding her for having more mental strength than him. While you do feel sorry for him, especially as he's picked on by the other soldiers, he is almost constantly abusive towards the one person who actually wants to help him. Then he gets the base overrun in what is clearly a Taking You with Me suicide whichever way you look at it; it's not like he didn't have some form of access to guns.
  • Women Are Wiser: Sarah is the only one advocating everyone working together, the most practical solutions, and staying calm.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Rhodes.
  • You Killed My Father: Bub guns down Rhodes as revenge for the death of Logan.
  • 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.