DAY OF THE DEAD (1985, ***1/2)
The only reason I think this film gets bad reviews from everyone is because our expectations were set too high, after seeing DAWN OF THE DEAD. But on its own, this movie is actually quite entertaining, and is not without merrit.
Five years after the crisis begins. The world is dead...living dead. The human race is nearly extinct. And a group of scientists who live in a long-forgotten underground bunker try to look for a cause, and a way to stop the plague, while the military protests their every attempt to help the species. The battle begins...
The only parts of this movie that can really stand up to DAWN are the beginning and the end. Lots of the zombie action that we love. But what it all boils down to, is that this movie is not meant to really compare to DAWN. It is what it is, and DAY is its own movie. We see the Human race REALLY winding down, and come on, you fat stubborn critics (looking at schmucks like you, Mr. Ebert), you have to admit that this movie has some pretty damned interesting dialougue. It gives you a clue as to how the world fell down, and what's going on beyond the safe confines of the bunker....and what all the odds are. To this day, I still eat up every word Dr. Logan says to Captain Rhodes at the meetings. Great stuff. That's what this movie's really about, trying to find a cure, trying to find a way to live, dealing with ethics (should we stay? or should we take off in the "whirly-bird?" You know what MY answer would be....), and battling the virtual "landlords." In fact, I was told by a friend, that this film reflects a period in Romero's life (which is why it is his favorite of the three): trying to see his vision of DAY OF THE DEAD get through, but being limited by the fascist MPAA, thus destroying his project.....replace "Romero" with "Scientists" and "MPAA" with "Captain Rhodes," and "vision of DAY OF THE DEAD" with "mission to save what's left of the human race," and you have the exact DAY plot. That is why this movie is so interesting. And as the critics say, the ACTORS are NOT always "screaming" their lines...sheesh, damned critics complain about BAD acting, but when a HORROR movie has GOOD acting in it, they still bitch....go watch a love movie, what you like best, Siskel, Ebert, Gene Schallit, the whole Gawl-Damned lot a' ya...
Sure, this movie has its weak points, and is the weakest of the trilogy, obviously, but if you sit down and watch it, take into consideration all the ethical decisions the main characters face, and all the statements made by all the struggling situations, and ponder them, and ask yourself, "What would *I* do?" then you will see that this is, on its own, a great movie. As far as that kick-ass zombie action that we love so much goes, no, it lacks in that area...but this is a different kind of movie. A movie which brings up all these ethical questions, and shows us how it is WE, the human race, who can be the problem. But in the end, it's a pretty dang good movie.
DAY OF THE DEAD - THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT
I read this awesome script over on Neil's webpage (awesome site...after you're done reading, go over to Homepage of the Dead and read the script!!!!), and I was saddened that such a work of art could not be made.
It has about, fifty percent of the elements of the DAY we know (Sarah, Abusive leaders, training zombies, underground bunker, Johnny and McDermott, similar opening scene, Bub, the list goes on....). In this version, Sarah is part of a group of scavengers, who has a fierce run-in with zombies and other humans....half of their group wounded, they go to an island out in the keys, and discover there are more than just zombies here, but a secret government operation....and it aint pretty. They are training hordes of zombies as soldiers...and the group's presence is noticed by the soldiers. A manhunt ensues for the intruders, while they must escape dimented humans, and roaming-free zombies...while insiders formulate a plan to escape (it's alot thicker than that, however).
I read this script, and it was completely awe-inspiring. If it had been made, it would have been better than DAWN (ahhh, I just guess DAWN was meant to be the best....). It couldn't get made for many reasons, but mostly because of the fact that the MPAA would not agree with Romero's brand of gore. If you ask me, George cares a little too much about his beloved gore...and in the end that just causes him problems. If he did the gore (or killings, rather) "artistically," the MPAA would have probably left him alone, and he would recieve more critical success, thus creating more FINANCIAL success. Besides, it is the STORY that makes the great movie, not the gore. Sure, it's a nice added SUPPLEMENT, but that's all it is, a supplement. Hopefully George will realize that with DEAD4. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love the man, he is my hero and everything, but I cannot deny his mistake. But....again, there's always DEAD4, and these days, the MPAA is a TINY bit more tolerant (though not much), so who knows....
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 90 (1990, ****)
Great flick. Of COURSE the critics bashed it. Same plot as the first one, but TONS of new surprises and twists.
The actors are great, and the gore is done nicely, and I love the more "natural" look of the zombies (afterall, Tom Savini sent his FX crew to go study real dead bodies...), and the way it turns out at the end. And you gotta LOVE Ben's make-it-back-to-the-house-but-must-kick-hordes-of-zombie-ass-first scene (haha). In many ways, this version is better than the original, and hell, I'll even go as far as saying I liked it better. And on top of that, there's a WHOLE new tone of creepyness that really works. To this day it still kind of freaks me out.....I must congratulate Tom Savini.
I wonder just what the hell Tom Savini's "original vision" was for this movie. Apparently it was ten times better....anyone know anything? Email me, I'm dying to find out!