Day of the Dead is a classic George Romero movie about a post apocalyptic world overrun by a zombie outbreak. Where Dawn of the Dead has us isolated in a mall, Day of the Dead has us isolated in a military style bunker underground.
The movie follows a small group of military soldiers, scientists and a few random folks who are dealing with the aftermath. The are worn down, discouraged that not only are they not finding survivors via their expeditions to the city but also that their numbers are going down compared to that of the zombies. Also there is no perceivable cure whether by antidote or otherwise of the zombies. The movie primarily follows Sarah though as she is trying to cope with everything like everyone else. Being the only female in the whole facility also makes her rather unique and combustible to the situation at hand.
As the movie progresses we have a change in hierarchy as the military soldiers (specifically Capt Rhodes stages a coup by taking over and threatening the scientists to start producing results. This is all cause and effect. Everyone is starting to over react due to the isolation, being in close proximity to each other and just the simple loss of their comrades. As a watcher and a roleplayer I can see how it can degenerate.
Dr Logan who is the main scientist is trying to solve the zombie problem not by cure via reversal but by domesticating the zombies. He discovers that they still act all on basic instinct in their need of survival and he wants to channel that so they no longer bother them. You can see the short sighted view and flaws with this but you can also tell Dr Logan has lost a few of his marbles.This bring us to his test subject Bub who is for the most part domesticated and proves his point. However you still need to feed Bub some flesh. You also discover that the zombies still retain trace memories of what they used to do and that they can learn on a primitive level. This aspect is rather fascinating and goes so far as to bring you to have an almost sympathy for the dead.
Obviously the plan does not work and the base is overrun by zombies. The soldiers all fall but that was expected. Capt Rhodes is killed by our good friend Bub. This comes off as a sort of vengence for Bub as Capt Rhodes was insistent on wanting to kill Bub and pointing out that he was worthless. Eventually only Sarah, John and McDermott make it out and to a tropical island.
Everyone does a fair job in their roles. Dr Logan stands out as strong character despite his insanity. He is the only one who seem’s not bothered by Capt Rhodes. In fact he is able to hold his own and even victorious in his dealings with him. His craziness is also very well done. Capt Rhodes being the main villain if you will come off like the douche he is however you can see his viewpoint that things keep going to shit and he is trying to cope by taking control.
The biggest performance though comes off as Bub. He is humanized to the point where he makes you sympathetic towards the zombies. As mentioned above, Capt Rhodes wants Bub dead and Bub gets his revenge. His face when he does get it really comes through that there is a glimmer of intelligence there. It’s so well done for a relatively bit part.
The gore in this movie is totally over the top as expected of Romero zombie movies and if you look at the special features on the DVD you will get a chuckle on how these effects were obtained. In fact I recommend watching all the making of featurette as it is quite fascinating to see how the movie developed from a phonebook sized script to almost a shell of the original concept due to budget restraints at the time.
Day of the Dead is a solid entry into the zombie apocalypse series. It sometimes gets a bit dull between scenes but overall it hangs in there. The characters can be quite quotable and you may find yourself bringing out a curse by Capt Rhodes at some point to laughs all around. If your big into the zombie genre, you need to see this movie, it’s a classic. You will find definite inspiration for your zombie oriented games in this movie. But also you can use the theme of isolation in any genre of game you run. Isolation can be a very valuable tool in a game so take hints from how Romero used it.