Although, after talking with some people and watching the movie more closely, I understand how it could have done some of that.

My stance on this movie is that it’s got an interesting concept and setting, but the realization of it all falls flat and fails to deliver. Corny dialogues and uneven acting will do that to a movie. It might even cover up the fact that there’s some pretty interesting things going on in it.

To me, there are two kinds of good zombie movies: the ones that make you think and the ones that are so stupid, they make you laugh – and they must be stupid on purpose.

It took me quite a few zombie movies to figure out that they could actually be interesting and though provoking. They can be apocalyptic movies, where all social references are thrown out the window. They can be a very interesting laboratory where we see people evolve through unimaginable crisis. We can see people work together, fight, change. We can see some of their inner workings. In short, it’s an interesting setup for social commentaries and even self-exploration. What would you do if your pregnant wife turned into a flesh eating monster before your very eyes? Would you be able to kill her? And how would you live with that? How would that change you? Pretty potent and interesting stuff.

Funny zombie movies? They just dig less deep and focus more on action, funny or just downright lame dialogues. I’m not going to try and describe funny here. Finding zombie movies funny require a special sense of humor. Seeing a guy strapping on a lawn-mower and mowing through a crowd of zombies in they godparent’s living room is hilarious to some people and just plain disgusting to some others.

But I digress.

It seems to me that Day of the Dead tried to be an insightful movie. Problem is: I didn’t care about any of the characters. They didn’t have to be likable (which they weren’t), but they had to be interesting.

In DotD, our survivors are locked in some kind of pseudo-military bunker. They’re underground. They’re alone. They’re surrounded by zombies. They’re pretty much fucked, if you ask me. There are two factions in there: scientific and military… well, make that three.. there’s an extra “Jamaican-wannabe” faction that just doesn’t really care much besides just plain surviving.

If you watch the movie carefully, spotting on the details in the settings, in what you can see of the world, you can see there was a pretty clever concept behind this all.

Nifty nightmares, creepy abandoned cities filled to the brim with the walking dead. Military men growing pot around their bunkers. A dozen or so survivors stuck in a bunker with no real means of escape. Only one woman. Pretty interesting setting for character development.

Thing is we don’t get to see what’s going on in these people’s mind. Oh, there’s the obvious stuff.

The stupid military guy listening to no one and running things by pointing his gun. The guy who can’t stop drinking. The guy who doesn’t care. The mad scientist who’s just happy to experiment.

And that’s about how deep we go.

Good writing would’ve taken us on a tour with the military leader, letting the viewer see his fears. See his motivations and inner workings. What makes him act this way? To us, its sheer stupidity. And it ends there.

We can figure out why someone would want to remain drunk day in and day out in this kind of scenario. This is probably one of the characters who’s had the most development in there. He’s scared shitless. He feels inferior to the woman. His very manhood is threatened. He just has to drink! I can get that. It would have been a thousand times more interesting to see him spiral down. Instead, he starts at the bottom, and there he remains.

I could go on, but you see what I mean. We hardly see these people evolve. They simply serve us cheesy dialogue line over cheesy dialogue line. They sometimes make good deliveries. Most of the time it’s pretty average, if not downright lame.

To tell you the whole truth, there’s one very likable character that actually evolves quite a bit in this whole ordeal. I believe he’s what makes this movie a classic. I’m talking about Bub. Bub the zombie.

Yes, the most likable character in this movie is a zombie. And he’s got a name. Our mad doctor (second in line for most likeable character) actually thought the zombie some tricks. Got it digging in his pre-undeath memory. Turns out our clever zombie used to be a military. A zombie military man. Now that’s satirical, clever and funny!

Be warned, there be spoilers after this point.

What about the ending? To me, a good movie ending is often unexpected and clever. It’s a piece of storytelling that puts the whole movie back in perspective. Its something that makes you think. It must work with was what previously shown. So, “it was all just a dream” is unacceptable. “It was all just a dream” means that you just watched a whole movie for nothing. I can’t think of a kind of ending that misses me off more. Basically, it means you had no story to start with.

Another kind of lame ending is when the murderer is revealed to be a guy that you could not possibly have had a clue about. You can watch the movie again, get to the ending and just go: “what the fuck was that?” all over again. These kind of endings also piss me off.

I digress again.

Anyways, I expected a lot more. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was what made the movie work for me. I thought it might be the same with DotD.

Nope.

Our “heroes” (at this point, you care so much about the characters it’s possible you’re rooting for the zombies) are in a very dire situation. And just when you think they’re done for, the women wakes up on what seems to be a peaceful deserted island with her buddies.

You’re left guessing they escaped somehow and managed to get somewhere – even though they often said their helicopter wouldn’t have any fuel to get anywhere.

That’s just one sucky half-assed ending. Seems to me like someone ran out of ideas.

My verdict: To me, as a movie, on its own, Day of the Dead is a bad movie.

DotD is enjoyable. It’s got its few moments. But its still a bad movie.

There’s nothing wrong with a bad movie. I like a lot of bad movies. I consider bad movies to be a genre, actually.

But I feel DotD is not a really good bad movie. Its more of an average bad movie.

It feels like it tries to be an insightful, thought provoking movie but fails to deliver. Subjects are briefly approached, barely explored. Combined with bad dialogue, mediocre acting and a very terrible ending makes it so.

Of course, a lot of people feel otherwise (and are completely entitles to!). DotD is still considered a zombie movie classic – though I feel it is because its riding on the success of its preceding movies.

If you plan on liking it, you need to watch it at least twice.

Favorite quotes:

  • "Choke on them!" (says the dying military guy as zombies are going away with his freshly-torn legs)
  • "That wasn’t very nice, you know… that wasn’t very nice at all. You can just sit there in the dark… and think about what you’ve done" (says the mad scientist to Bub, throwing a zombie fit)

Feel free to drop comments to express your opinions on the movie!