By: Hayden Fitzsimons
George Romero is likely a name that goes over the heads of many, however his affect on film and pop culture is immeasurable.
George Romero is one of the main reasons zombies have become as popular as they are today. Prior to Romero, very few pieces of media involving zombies existed. There were enough to inspire Romero, films such as ‘The White Zombie’ were a main influence to the creation of Romero’s first film ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ which was released in 1968. His film was unlike any other film before it, as his film contained extreme gore and a focus on the living dead, believe it or not.
17 years later, George Romero releases another zombie film, the staple of his filmmaking career. This film is ‘Day of the Dead,’ one of his lesser known and lesser appreciated films. Even so, many of Romero’s fans claim ‘Day of the Dead’ as their favorite Romero film. Personally, ‘Day of the Dead’ is the only film I’ve seen of his, however I’m greatly looking forward to seeing more as this film is quite entertaining.
‘Day of the Dead’ is, to put it simply, an entertaining yet extremely corny movie. This is a common thread in Romero’s films, as they are all low budget and kitschy films. Even despite the film’s corniness it remains a very entertaining film.
Yet, the first act of the film is a major issue in my opinion. I found the first 20 to 30 minutes extremely boring and borderline irritating. This issue is one that plagues many older films, but that doesn’t excuse ‘Day of the Dead.’
But, if you make it through the first act, which I highly recommend that you do, the film quickly picks up. The story which takes place is that of Dr. Sarah Bowman and a whole cast of characters ranging from soldiers to nearly insane scientists, trapped in an underground facility. They’ve been assigned the task of learning about the zombies which have ravaged America, but the soldiers are quickly becoming irritated with losing their men and resources to protect a collection of nerds who seem to be making very little progress.
The issues and strengths of ‘Day of the Dead’ both derive from the characters. In the beginning of the film, many of the characters are nearly perfect cliches. The characters start as extremely one dimensional, irritating, and poorly acted. This makes the film become somewhat of a slog, a painful crawl until the film very quickly improves.
Once an actual threat and conflict arises, the characters who were once cliches have become endearing to the viewer and are now a set of fun characters who the viewer is rooting wholeheartedly for. After the film overcomes their initially poorly written characters, it becomes an action packed thrill ride that is non-stop entertainment.