Day of the Dead

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"We don't have enough ammunition to 'shoot them all in the head'. The time to have done that would have been at the beginning. No, we let them overrun us. They have overrun us, you know. We're in the minority now. Something like 400,000 to 1 by my calculations."

Doctor Logan, 1985 version

Day of the Dead (also known as George A. Romero's Day of the Dead) is a 1985 horror film by director George A. Romero, the third of Romero's Living Dead movies. It is preceded by Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. George Romero describes 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". Steve Miner directed a remake which was released on February 15, 2008, and there is an official sequel called Day of the Dead 2: Contagium which nobody from the original movie had any involvement with.

1985 Version

An undead apocalypse has ravaged the Earth whilst America's last surviving humans study them from within an underground military establishment. The survivors in the film are horrified at the prospect that they "are the only ones left", creating a crisis within human civilization over whether or not the idea of human society should be continued or abandoned. The living characters in the film are made up of three distinctive groups, each of whom have been given a task by the government - but since the government is no longer providing oversight (and may no longer exist) each group is becoming increasingly subject to temptations that go beyond their instructions. The scientists have been ordered to find a resolution to the epidemic but are tempted to violate nature's boundaries guarding life and death, soldiers who are assigned to protect the doctors appointed to study the zombies but are tempted to enforce fascistic martial law and destroy the specimens in an act of rebellion, and the civilians who are assigned to serve both groups with basic though necessary services like transportation and communication but are tempted to abandon the cause and, instead, live out their last days in reckless abandon.

2008 Version

The movie opens with a group of teenagers are engaging in sexual activities in a disused bunker. Trevor's girlfriend wants to leave and so with Trevor being the transportation they all leave and find that the military has blocked off the town and there are a bunch of sick people in town. At the same time privates Bud and Cross go to visit Cross's mother who has become sick (Cross is Trevor's sister). Trevor and his girlfriend and the two privates end up taking their mother to the local hospital. At the hospital suddenly all the infected take a turn for the worse and turn into zombies with super human strength and speed, their mother as well. Trevor and girlfriend rush over to a local radio station while Bub and Cross get stuck in a cupboard, after a quick Air Vent Passageway escape they get out, rescue the teenagers and head over the bunker at the start of the film. Bub managed to get bit but doesn't turn against other humans. At the bunker they find that the zombie attack all part of a government study of viruses. They managed to burn all the zombies in the bunker that have followed them and are last seen driving off into the distance.

Not to be confused with November 2, aka Día de Muertos in Mexico.


Tropes used in Day of the Dead include:
  • After the End
  • Air Vent Passageway: Averted. Not only do the zombies figure out this escape route immediately and destroy the vent from below, but one manages to follow them into it.
  • Apocalyptic Log: In the original, when Sarah and Bill are searching through Logan's office, they decide to listen to his recorded lab notes, which quickly degenerate from clinical analysis of one of his zombie test subjects into an argument with his dead mother, where he claims that "[The zombies'] minds are talking to me," proving to them that the doctor has totally lost it.
    • In the remake, the survivors find a scientist's video-log in an underground medical facility, which shows him having a psychotic episode while apparently talking to a zombie.
  • Armies Are Evil: The 1985 original. George Romero doesn't like the U.S. military at all, and it shows; none of the soldiers have any redeeming qualities. It could be argued that they were going insane after all the isolation and the threat of zombies.
    • Well, all except Miguel, who's an outcast from the rest of the soldiers because of racism and the fact that he's sleeping with Sarah.
      • Plus two others, Johnson and Miller, these two are pretty mellow most of the time. But they are the first two killed off.
  • Bullying a Dragon: In the remake, as soon as the survivors figure out Bud isn't aggressive to humans, Salazar starts slapping him around gleefully. Nothing bad comes of it, but c'mon, What an Idiot!.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Bud in the remake tells a love interest that he is a vegetarian to impress her. Later on, after he is bitten and turned into a zombie he doesn't eat people, providing a justification for his being a heroic zombie.
    • In the original, Bub is shown to remember portions of his life, including saluting, shaving, and the operation of a handgun. That last one comes in handy.
  • Big Bad: Captain Rhodes
  • Continuity Nod:

Bill: The power's off on the mainland now, in case you haven't heard. And all the shopping malls are closed.

  • Daylight Horror: The word day is even in the title.
  • Deus Ex Machina: Bub the zombie remembering how to fire a gun, and using this knowledge to help the protagonists. This had already been hinted at, and he's not so much as helping them as out for revenge.
  • Facing the Bullets One-Liner. "Choke on 'em!"
  • Fake Nationality: Terry Alexander was born and raised in Detroit, but pulls off an excellent Caribbean accent. Funnily enough, Roger Ebert thought that Jarlath Conroy's Irish accent was fake and commented as such in his initial review, even though Conroy is actually a native Irishman.
  • Famous Last Words: See Facing the Bullets One-Liner.
  • For Science!: Dr. Logan believes he can teach the zombies good manners - an obsession that comes to a head when the soldiers guarding the place finds out he's using the corpses of their fallen comrades as positive reinforcements.
  • Genre Savvy: Nick Cannon/Salazar. He is, in fact, extremely Genre Savvy, figuring out that bitten = zombie and Boom! Headshot! rules within minutes of the outbreak.
  • Hello: The plan to find survivors, summarized in a single word.
  • A House Divided: Scientists vs. soldiers.
  • It Can Think: Rhodes is seriously freaked out when the Mad Scientist demonstrates that zombies can remember how to use objects from their previous lives as humans. Such as operating a Colt .45 pistol.
    • He seems reluctantly impressed by Dr. Logan's achievements up until the point where Bub mumbles into the toy telephone "Hello, Aunt Alicia". This is the point when he visibly freaks out. Not even the gun display gets such a reaction out of him.
  • Jump Scare: The infamous calendar on the wall in the beginning. The protagonist goes to look at a calendar on a wall. Suddenly, hundreds of zombie hands burst through the wall.
  • Just Before the End: It's either this or After the End, depending on circumstances.
  • Large Ham: Captain Rhodes and Doctor Logan both fit this.
  • Made of Plasticine: Captain Rhodes.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Matthew Logan, nicknamed "Frankenstein" by the soldiers, is the embodiment of this trope. He is so obsessed with his work he fails to consider how the soldiers will react to him cutting up their deceased comrades for his experiments.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory
  • Nightmare Sequence: The opening scene and possibly the entire movie, for that matter.
  • No FEMA Response: The Army cordons off the town in the remake.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted when Captain Rhodes is shot in the shoulder and unable to do anything with that side of his torso. Then he gets shot in the leg and is essentially crippled.
  • Precision F-Strike:

"I'M RUNNIN' THIS MONKEY FARM NOW, FRANKENSTEIN, AND I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU'RE DOIN' WITH MY TIME!"

  • Regret Eating Me: See Famous Last Words.
  • Shout-Out: "Logan" and "Bub", as if to dispel any doubt, the two are listed in the opening credits together. In fact, they are the only characters to be named in the opening credits.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Ving Rhames was one of the only survivors of the Dawn of the Dead remake. Though not the same character, he appears in this movie and is killed very quickly.
  • Thematic Series: The entire Night of the Living Dead series is loosely connected by Romero, the zombie apocalypse, and times of day.
  • What Could Have Been: Romero's original script. Think of it as a mix between this film and Land of the Dead. Budget restrictions forced Romero to rewrite.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In the remake, zombies that were vegetarians in life not only do not eat people, but are completely harmless. This leads to a debate on whether or not the remaining humans should kill them anyway because, well, they're zombies.
  • Zombie Apocalypse
  • Zombie Infectee: A rare case in the remake where one is helpful. The new guy is hot for Meni Suvari, his corporal. After he turns, he actually saves her from the lead zombie.