DAY OF THE DEAD

(1985)
With Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joe Pilato, Richard Liberty, Sherman Howard (aka Howard Sherman)
Directed by George A. Romero
Reviewed by JB

What's all the hub-bub, Bub?      A group of scientists, protected by the army in an underground bunker, try to figure out this whole "dead walking the earth and eating the living" business.  The third in what is now a quintet of film, George Romero's DAY OF THE DEAD is the least entertaining of the series.  Romero envisioned it as a 7 million dollar film and was forced to hack away at the screenplay to bring it in for 3 million.  So what may have been an expansive action film became claustrophobic, talky and set bound.  But that still could have worked, as it had in the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, had the actors been up to the task.  Unfortunately, most of them chew the scenery with the same glee that Romero's zombies chew intestines.  Joe Pilato, for one example, plays his army Captain like Harvey Fierstein portraying a Rex Reed gone postal.  The other main military figures in the film are one-note caricatures, forever making lame expletive-filled witticisms and then cackling like hens.

     The terrific and still-unknown Lori Cardille practically carries the film as one of the scientists, but the best performance by far comes from Sherman Howard as Bub the Zombie. Not since Boris Karloff in FRANKENSTEIN has an actor brought so much pathos and personality to the role of a dumb brute monster.  The scene in which a confused and elated Bub hears Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" through headphones is a wonderful bit of improvisation that typifies what Howard brings to the role. The effective pre-credit sequence, Lori Cardille's performance, and Howard-Bub are almost the only justifications for revisiting this otherwise dreary film on a regular basis.  However, fans of Tom Savini's gore effects will love DAY OF THE DEAD, as some of his his best work (aka "his most disgusting work") is on display throughout, especially in the film's bloody climax. 2½ - JB

Zombies     The Secret Vortex


IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, IF YOU IGNORE ALL THE FLESH-EATING: The late Don Brockett, otherwise known as "Chef" Brockett from TV's Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, plays a zombie in this film. He carved himself quite a nice little side career as a bit actor, appearing in such films as Flashdance, Silence of the Lambs and Bob Roberts.