Let me just point out one thing before diving into this fresh slab of cartilage. This observation is based on the zombie film as horror. So it should be judged as such. Therein lies the dilemma. Dawn for some odd reason, tops both Night & Day as the scariest of the bunch in online polls. & while I would agree that out of all three, Night is the scariest, that still leaves the under appreciated Day of the Dead. I'm just going to pretend the last three Romero zombie movies don't exist. They shouldn't anyway.
There's a previous blog entry I made about Alien 3 which suffers from the same lashings that this film does. People expected it to follow in the tradition of Aliens. The same way Dawn had cast a cloud over all fututre zombie films that were released in its wake.
A blogger once said "Sometimes I don't want a comedy. I want a zombie movie." Don't get me wrong. I love Dawn. It's been ingrained into my psyche like a tick burrowed underneath the skin. Though to this day I am wondering why the hell that one biker had to have his blood pressure taken while zombies were surrounding him. But I'll save that for my "common sense gone to shit" rant.
Dawn has always been considered the most epic of the two in terms of scope. But scaling the zombie outbreak down and adding in an ingenious premise allows this grimy bag o' ghoulish glee to exceed Dawn in story. Not to mention the fact that it is the bleakest film the director has worked on.
The cooky (but disorientingly logical) doctor's old "400,000 to 1" quote gives the film a deeper apocalyptic tone moreso than previous. There's not gonna be any bikers breaking into the compound any time soon. For all we know, these could be the last remaining survivors. They don't do a good job of holding our sympathy. Rhodes becomes as villianous as the zombies by the end & the duo of Steel/Rickles doesn't help things along any further either. The moral compass is not only off center, it's thrown in the river along with a heaping dose of sanity. Which is exactly the way it should be.
To any doubters, I point to the opening scene that establishes the tone. Money flying about the desolate streets. That one newspaper being blown up against a trash can- The Dead Walk! Fuckin' A they do. & one of them greets us with its tongue permanently hanging out. Savini does some of his finest work here. The zombies look like, well, zombies! Filthy, mucky & rotting. Speaking of zombies, let's just pull the cat out of the bag: Howard Sherman as Bub. Out of all the countless actors who have performed as zombies in movies, no one quites nails it down as good as this guy did.
To dot the i's & cross the t's on this matter, previous Dead installments didn't have someone's vocal chords being stretched to the point of heightening their scream. Nor did they have someone laughing his ass off only to have it turn to gasping while a zombie was ripping the skin off his face with his bare hands. Vicious, bleak & horrific.