[box cover]

Day of the Dead

Often considered the least of George Romero's Zombie trilogy, 1985's Day of the Dead has earned a bad rap. Perhaps it's because news that Romero had originally envisioned a larger film leaked to the fans, and the results seemed muted in comparison. After introducing a Florida overrun with zombies, the film focuses on 12 — perhaps the only — survivors as they struggle underground to find a solution. Of the 12, three are scientists, with Sarah (Lori Cardille), the de facto leader, and Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty), the one still fascinated with doing research on the zombies — even training one of them, whom he names Bub (Howard Sherman). Two are helicopter pilots (Terry Alexander, Jarlath Conroy) who keep their distance from both the military and the scientists, and the rest are Army boys led by the unstable Capt. Rhodes (Joseph Pilato), who is using his military force to try to control everything. But as much research as Logan (called Dr. Frankenstein by the privates) does, no progress seems to be made, and he keeps running out of test subjects, leading to the accidental infection of Sarah's boyfriend, Pvt. Miguel Salazar (Anthony Dileo). Though the muted tone may have upset those looking for a more direct sequel to Romero's 1978 disco-apocalyptic Dawn of the Dead, Day takes T.S. Eliot's idea that "This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper" seriously. Each progressive film shows the zombies gaining more ground, and by the day of the dead, humans — or what's left of them — are living underground (in a clever role reversal), beat, exhausted, and no longer the dominant species. This also has made it seem the bleakest of the trilogy; ironically it's the only one with the semblance of a happy ending. Compared to the other two films, it has the least pertinent social commentary: 1968's Night of the Living Dead had a race-relations subtext, while 1978's Dawn addressed consumerism. Perhaps the liberal Romero felt the zombies had won in Reagan's America; the main threat to the character's sanity is the military presence, which is run by a madman who uses naked aggression and threats of violence to get what he wants. Whatever the case, Day is still a provocative and effective zombie movie, and a fitting end to horror's greatest trilogy. Anchor Bay's two-disc set presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and in Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS, and 2.0 surround. Unfortunately the original mono mix was not included, and some of the dialogue in the film comes from a different cut of the film that features less profanity (perhaps the sole detail keeping this from being the definitive release). Disc One comes with two audio commentaries, the first with Romero, special effects maestro Tom Savini, Cardille, and production designer Cletus Anderson, while the second has filmmaker and fan Roger Avery. On the second disc is the 39-minute documentary "The Many Days of Day of the Dead", which features interviews with producer David Ball, assistant director Christine Romero, actor/effects helper Greg Nicotero, actors Joe Pilato and Howard Sherman, and Romero, Savini, Cardille, and Anderson. Also included is "Day of the Dead: Behind The Scenes," which features 31 minutes of production footage, a 15-minute audio interview with Richard Liberty, a Wampum Mine promotional video (where most of the film was shot), three theatrical trailers, TV spots, still galleries from behind the scenes, Zombie make-up, continuity stills, production photos, posters and advertising art, memorabilia, and a George Romero bio. Two-disc digipak.

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