Written by John Edward Betancourt
If there is one film that has perhaps seen the strangest turnaround in George Romero's storied career, it has to be the third entry in his Dead Saga, Day of the Dead. After all this is a film that faced incredible odds to be produced since the distribution company wouldn't give George the budget he wanted to make a grand finale to the series without an R rating.
Not to mention the finished product was a box office dud that kept him away from his beloved zombies for twenty years. It was hated by so many, considered too dark for the times and now...after all these years it is perhaps a film that is held in the same regard as Dawn of the Dead. Oddly enough, this is a motion picture that was also ahead of its time once again, with themes that are more prevalent now than they ever were in the 1980s.
But before we get into that, one must take a moment and admire Tom Savini's work which thirty years later still looks as good and as revolutionary as anything out there in modern motion pictures. The gore is still earth shattering on so many levels and when I watched this one again the other day, it still gives me chills and nausea, even more so on the blu ray edition. However, despite the amazing gore and terror that comes from it, George's saga was always about our humanity, our short comings and where we may be going, and this one surprises me still with what it has to say.
This is, for all intents and purposes and angry film. There is no joy to be found in the characters, after all they're deep underground, looking for a cure that may never come and it leads to class warfare and distrust of the powers that be. The scientists don't trust Captain Rhodes and his men, or their agenda and well...Rhodes clearly believes he is better than these doctors, hoping to simply escape the science to enjoy a warm beer on a beach somewhere.
That simple move in the story ends up being a spot on look at American life today. We debate class warfare endlessly, looking at the haves and the have nots and wondering what it will take for our people to be equal once again. We have in many ways lost trust in the powers that be as well. Poll upon poll shows our distrust and disappointment in government and well, it's stunning to see that once again, George hit in on the nose where we were headed. The zombies became a bigger allegory here, an interchangeable issue of any given problem in our world, knocking at our door while we endlessly debate. That particular part of his social commentary here would be expanded upon later on in the series, but in the here and the now, it's easy to see why Day of the Dead has suddenly become so loved and so revered. It was truly another piece of visionary work from George, and while it may not surpass Dawn of the Dead as the finest film in the series, it certainly stands tall right next to it.