So which George Romero zombie film is your favourite? Dawn or Day?
Night of the Living Dead doesn’t count because it’s the ur-zombie film, and Land of the Dead does not exist in this dojo.
The 1985 is my personal preference.
It’s a small story just peeking a glimpse into the final, final moments of the total collapse of civilisation, when the Dead outnumber the living four hundred thousand to one. You can imagine the months that have passed in the Everglades of Florida as battalions of soldiers are steadily killed until we’re left with the meagre handful we encounter in their eerie underground bunker, with a command structure that exists in name only. The civilians have given up, simply going through the motions of routine. And the scientists … the scientists have lost themselves in an ocean of insanity.
Doctor Logan (Played by Richard Liberty) spends his time performing gruesome, pointless experiments on the corpses of his former colleagues and teaching semi-reformed zombie Bub (Sherman Howard) how to salute. Captain Rhodes, the soldier in charge, might be a complete asshole and more than a little unhinged himself, but he’s certainly not wrong; and Joseph Pilato’s performance is hilariously over the top. The desperate bleakness of the film is a perverse delight to me; Romero himself 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.” Meanwhile, Howard’s performance as Bub is iconic, and Tom Savini’s gore-ful special effects are absolutely amazing.
The film was not a success upon release. “When it first came out, the audience was like, ‘What the hell is this?’” reflected the primary star of the ensemble, Lori Cardille, whilst Ebert called it “dreary” in his 1 ½ star review.
Still, it made $34 million at the box office upon release, and I think has been rightly reconsidered to be a classic by many.
Have a great day, Avocado, and … ch-choke on ‘em … choke on ‘em!