Rated: Not Rated (Contains extreme violence, strong adult language) Language: English
Starring: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Richard Liberty, Jarlath Conroy, and Sherman Howard
In tribute to the man who brought us all to this weird zombie life, I snagged Day of the Dead for a re-watch . . . and realized I’d never covered the film for this website. Well, that’s just wrong. We’re going to remedy the problem right now.
Sarah and her band of scientists are perhaps the last to continue research work during the zombie apocalypse. They’re aided by thuggish army personnel who’ve just about had their limit of hunkering down in an abandoned missile silo while the man they call Frankenstein carries out gruesome experiments. The team’s goal is to find any way to lessen the zombie impact in an earth overrun by the undead. Sarah wants a cure. Her blood-coated coworker, Dr. Logan, thinks he can tame zombies using positive reinforcement and their own latent human traits. It works. Somewhat. There’s one zombie who’s not like the others: Bub. But their progress with Bub isn’t enough for Rhodes, the military man in charge. He snaps and all their hard work hits the fan.
Now, admittedly, Day of the Dead isn’t many people’s favorite Dead film. The language is beyond foul. The racism makes any sane person’s blood boil. The way the men treat the only woman is abhorrent, and while there’s no sexual violence, it sure is threatened a lot. We’re meant to be disgusted by these men. The best shortcut was to make them outrageously racist, misogynistic, and flat out a-holes of the highest caliber. They’ve existed in an echo chamber of hatred while stuck underground. Basically, this is Romero saying that if you put a bunch of awful white men in a jar, they’ll become even more hateful before turning on each other just to have someone to fight other than their own thoughts. Unfortunately, they weren’t alone and those caught in the crossfire are people who don’t deserve to be treated so badly. Almost everyone pays with their lives because Rhodes is, deep down, a frightened little boy who requires a death grip on everything he can possibly control since the world above is absolutely insane.
The ethical questions raised by Dr. Logan’s experiments lead to some of the best conversations Romero’s ever brought to the table, on-screen and off. At what point do the undead stop being human? For Logan, it is never, ever clear. He has no qualms about using the military men as fresh zombies to operate on while he searches for what makes them tick. On the other hand, he treats Bub as an adoptive son, is painfully patient with him, and goes to great lengths to ensure the zombie’s well-being. This is night and day compared to the way Logan talks to the scientific team and the military men. With humans he speaks from a place of deep entitlement, never bothering to hide that he believes himself to be far superior to them because he’s so dang smart. He gets away with it, for the most part. However when Sarah snaps and puts Rhodes or his men in their place, she’s nearly shot. Logan made himself important, far more important than his peer, and forced Rhodes to see her as disposable. Frankenstein was never in the silo to help humanity. He was there to help himself by gathering knowledge about the one thing no one else had access to, and did it in a way he knew Sarah wouldn’t replicate so she could never be on the pedestal he built for himself.
There’s so much going on with the dead in this film. This is where Romero drove home the notion that they’re not much different from us, only they have something primal driving them instead of the complex rules humans live by every day. They’ve got more freedom than the humans. Even Bub and the others imprisoned in the silo for experimentation are at liberty to do what they want because there’s no social rules for the undead. Their only restriction is placed on them by another species. They just are whoever they are and nothing can change that. Bub already possessed the reasoning capabilities Logan exploits in the film. How do we know that? Land of the Dead. In that film, the dead communicate, have returned to a human-less life where they repeat the tasks ingrained in their minds from their living days, and eventually band together to seek something which is missing from their lives. If Bub were taught how to reason, future generations of zombies wouldn’t have been able to accomplish their great trek to Fiddler’s Green. We owe a lot to Bub.
The makeup FX are some of the best . . . for 1985. Except for a few background actors in full masks who accidentally shuffled too close to camera, the zombies are a collection of what everyone considers a stereotypical zombie. Go look at your local zombie pub crawl. Most of what’s there can also be found in the final act of Day of the Dead. There’s even a clown, for heaven’s sake. Romero did it all back in a decade when zombies weren’t the cool thing to produce. That influence echoes throughout anything dealing with the undead to this day.
Day of the Dead signaled a change in the way the undead would be presented for decades. For that reason, and so many more, I’m giving it four oozing eyeballs out of five.
There are few people in the world who make an impact so great, the depth of what they’ve left behind is nearly impossible to calculate. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago we lost one of those bright, shining souls. George Romero passed on July 16th at age 77. According to a statement given to The Times by Romero’s longtime producing partner, Peter Grunwald, the legendary filmmaker passed in his sleep after a, “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer.” The statement went on to say that Romero was at peace, listening to the soundtrack from his one of his favorite films, The Quiet Man, with his wife and daughter at his side.
To say we’re all floored at the news is an understatement. None of us at the ZSC would be here doing all things undead without Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Not a one. What he did with that film, not just the outrageous notion to take zombies from their origin and give them somewhere new to come from, but the social commentary woven throughout, created a new form of horror film. It gave the creators who favor the dark side of fantasy the okay to send a message in what would otherwise just be a bunch of dead bodies shuffling toward their next meal. When I said we cannot calculate the differences Romero made in the film world, I mean it. So many directors currently shaping the entertainment world have spent the last few days expounding on how much they treasured what Romero started and how he stuck to his guns throughout his long career. But no matter how long it was, it’ll never feel like enough time with a man who just seemed to get it, to understand the impact a silly zombie film could really have on social constructs. That he did it with grace, dignity, and kindness just makes it that much harder to say goodbye. It’ll be a long time before I stop wondering when the maestro will drop a new film. It’ll be even longer before the tears stop coming every time his films pop on TV or someone sneaks Night of the Living Dead into their film in homage.
Everyone has that one favorite Romero film they go to time and time again. I have two, because it was just too difficult to pick one. Hell, whittling it down to two was a herculean task. However, I cannot overstate how Bub changed the way I approach acting and writing creature characters, and that’s what finally made Day of the Dead my top Romero flick. The other? The Dark Half. It’s just so spot-on for a Stephen King film, yet so few list it when they ramble off the usual suspects. Romero gifted us with a treasure-trove of films like that, ones which speak to a certain group and give them what they need to hear—but with a lot of gore because that’s fun to work with.
There aren’t enough words to thank him for not just his films, but the care he showed his fellow man. Nor are there enough to fully comprehend the loss. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
We are back once again to bash myths Zombie Survival Crew style. Our researchers wracked their brains to gather this knowledge so you, loyal brigadiers, don’t end up with your bones as toothpicks for the undead.
Myth: Zombies prefer to chow down on grey matter.
Fact: Well if that’s the case, I know more than a few people that will be perfectly safe once the Zombiepocalypse kicks into high gear… [RC ducks a crossbow bolt] I’m kidding!
The zombies we know and see most often on film and in television shows are based on George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. In that film the word “zombie” never once occurred. The undead were called ghouls.
What are ghouls? Ghouls stem from Arabic folklore. In those tales, ghouls were demons that took the form of animals to lure victims in and devour them alive. Alternative tales state that ghouls assumed the form of their last meal, often appearing as human-munching children. Still more stories tell us that ghouls prefer to haunt graveyards and eat freshly interred corpses.
The main theme through all of the variations of the term ghoul is, of course, devouring flesh. Which is why Romero used that term for his animated corpses. At the time, it fit far better than calling them zombies. Zombies had been something solely derived from magical means in movies like White Zombie.
So where the heck did the masses get the idea that a zombie is only interested in our brains? Five words, my friends: Return of the Living Dead. That one movie became such a cult classic that the myths they created to tell their version of the zombie creation process seeped into popular culture. “Braaaiiins” is something easy for people to remember—a quick way to let someone know that their buddies were doing their best zombie impersonation… that didn’t involve an abstract interpretation of the Thriller dance.
Brain-eating zombies took off in popularity for a little while, but we’re seeing the reemergence of the ghoul-like zombie. I prefer to think of the former as picky eaters. Be adventurous, grab a leg and gnaw away. Don’t turn up your nose at an “inferior” cut of human. You can’t be picky during the Zombiepocalypse.
“The living dead will be staggering through Cambridge city centre.
But it won’t be the end of a particularly heavy freshers’ pub crawl, rather a wave of fancy dressers paying homage to the zombie film genre.
The second Zombiegeddon walk, which could see more than 100 people in gory make-up weave through the city, was born last year when a group of friends on a fancy dress night out wanted to extend the fun.
Tyler Mortimer, one of the organisers, said it was about “poking fun” at the genre, while raising money for charity – and confusing shoppers.”
From the mobile unit of ZSC Commander-in-Chief, Juliette Terzieff, with special guest Gary Streiner:
When we think of iconic horror movie moments it isn’t long before visions of Bill Hinzman lurching through the Evans City Cemetery towards unsuspecting siblings Barbra and Johnny in the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead float to the top. Like the gruesome murder of Janet Leigh in the infamous Psycho shower scene, or Linda Blair’s impossible head gymnastics in The Exorcist, the image of that first modern-era zombie seeking out a meal remains a favorite of horror fans around the globe.
George Romero’s black and white masterpiece is legend. A singular piece of filmmaking that has inspired generations of writers, artists, musicians, actors and filmmakers to probe through decaying flesh in search of the monster inside us all.
Night of the Living Dead fans and members of the movie’s production crew have joined forces in a labor of love to save the chapel featured in the movie’s opening sequence—which happens to be the last original building from the movie that still stands. The Evans City Chapel hasn’t been in use for decades, except as a storage shed, and is facing the wrecking ball.
Over the last year my guest today, Gary Streiner, NOTLD’s sound engineer and brother of Russ Streiner who played Johnny, has been helping drive a campaign to save the chapel. In that time Fix the Chapel has raised almost $50,000, inspired videos and given birth to an anthology Stories from the Chapel.
But the battle is not won yet. Even if the campaign successfully raises the fund’s required by the cemetery association to prevent a demolition, campaigners will be in place to help oversee the repairs.
It is with a sad and heavy heart that we bid good-bye to the most iconic zombie of our time—Bill Hinzman. The first zombie to make an appearance in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Bill continued his career as an actor, writer, cinematographer, director, and editor and most times he stood in front of the camera he donned zombie makeup.
Bill loved to go to conventions and pose with fans while in zombie makeup. In fact, that was how we first met Bill—when he tried to take a bite out of the chief. But her prowess at screaming and running in circles paid off, she was able to escape his grasp and then talk him into being a friend of the Zombie Survival Crew.
Born Samuel William Hinzman, October, 24 1936, Bill passed away February 4, 2012 at the age of 75 from that insidious beast—cancer. To see his accomplishments, check out his IMDB page. Perhaps the tweet from Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg puts it best:
Sad to hear Bill Hinzman, George Romero’s first zombie in NotLD passed away today. Even zombies die, legends however, do not. RIP Bill.
Rest in Peace, Bill. We, the Zombie Survival Crew, give you a 21—Crossbow salute!!
Suffice it to say, Spooky Empire’s May-Hem was chalk-full of strangeness for your ZSC commanders. Juliette covered some of it in her debriefing after the event. However while scouring her files for something we came across this, footage of actor Bill Hinzman.
That name not ring a bell? Then you haven’t been doing your research. Mr. Hinzman was the first zombie on screen in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. So… why was Juliette talking to a potentially compromised person? We aren’t sure, but he was nice enough to film this clip for us.
Command considers Bill Hinzman a friendly and we thank him for not munching on our fearless leader.
Saturday morning found ZSC Command members gathered round the resort’s Starbucks in search of coffee cups big enough to hold the amount of caffeine we all needed before the Con doors flew open.
And when the doors opened – it sparked a 10-hour onslaught of zombies, demons, bloody priests and people with chainsaws where their hands should have been.
The Walking Dead and Boondock Saints casts were in front of us, Night of the Living Dead to our right, with Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi and Anthony Michael Hall behind us.
Rocco came over to work the Zombie Survival Crew table and lend some extra Command support. Rocco’s move brought Blue Brigade Commander Norman over for a bit. Norman jumped right in and completed a few ZSC Command missions, and got so enthusiastic about it we had to physically stop him at one point.
The Command support of his two Boondock Saints cohorts drew Sean’s attention as well – though it later became apparent Sean has a different take on what ZSC Command structure should ultimately look like. It’s a disconnect I thought we had settled out after the Albuquerque Comicon – but he and I are trying to work it out. Or rather, I’m running from, hoping Sean won’t go jujitsu on me!
Norman, Greg Nicotero, Jon, Steve, Anthony and the rest of The Walking Dead took off mid-afternoon for their panel which many fans later picked as one of the highlights of the weekend. Nicotero thrilled the fans with information about effects and the magic he and his team work on The Walking Dead zombies.
While the gang was gone Lisa and I took the opportunity to scarf down the chicken ZSC loyalist Leigh-Anne procured for lunch, and found ourselves embroiled in impromptu Command strategy sessions with Anthony Michael Hall, Ted Raimi and Michael Kenworthy.
Within an hour all three gentlemen convinced me they were valuable assets to ZSC Command – and I enthusiastically issued rank assignments on the spot.
As the sun began to set, the Con wound down and the after events ramped up. Leigh-Anne volunteered to act as scout and went ahead to scope the VIP party crowd for potential UGA attackers. She immediately felt the eyes of surveillance upon her, but communicated the belief it was safe for Command to enter – as long as we were careful to avoid predator drone attacks.
Norman, Sean, Rocco and Anthony held their own, and ultimately it was Leigh-Anne – our brave volunteer – who suffered the first real loss of the evening when a UGA agent managed to procure her room key. As volunteer keeper of the Communication network she would be repeatedly targeted throughout the evening. We have yet to discern the “why” behind these assaults but can only assume it is an attempt by the UGA to remove Command’s support systems.
We bobbed, weaved and shimmied – and unlike the previous night it was because of the rockin’ music at the poolside party. We even managed to eat at a relatively decent hour. I just wish I could report we actually went to bed at a decent hour. Oh, don’t worry. We all paid the price…
My alarm might as well have had laryngitis for all the good its squeaking did in terms of waking up the living dead (me) that occupied my room Sunday morning. A text message on the other hand seems to have miraculous regenerative powers. Just sayin’.
The call to Anthony and Lisa – to see if they were still among the living – turned into an exchange of moans and groans any zombie would envy. Pretty sure none of us understood what any of the others were saying.
I didn’t quite realize how bad things were until I turned on the light in the bathroom. And I’ll be honest. I screamed. Puffy swollen eyes. Blotchy skin. A general green tone to the skin. For a few heart-pounding moments I feared the UGA had somehow unleashed another assault and infected me. But no. I was thinking, so I couldn’t be a zombie. I think, therefore I am, right?
Phew. Disaster avoided.
Sunday was a blur of monster assaults and UGA probes that seemed to be occurring within a live-action role play of a Marx Brothers routine.
As I attempted to decode an early morning email from Anthony Michael Hall, and Lisa helped Anthony try out a coffin, Leigh-Anne volunteered for a desert mission under extreme conditions. I couldn’t quite believe she still had enough left in the tank to take on a mission of mercy to resupply ZSC command – but she did, and reported back with biscuit sandwiches and coffee.
It was around this time that I ended up with Anthony Michael Hall’s bank card. The scenario that led me to be guarding the card reminded me of an old Danny Kaye movie scene from The Court Jester where he’s trying to remember this tongue-twister: The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true… What? Oh forget it, don’t ask.
On a mission to get something from the ZSC Command vehicle, I opened loading docks doors only to find myself nearly tackled by one Jon Bernthal, who had apparently managed to get stuck outside under the burning Florida sun for some time. Jon did better than Norman, Rocco and I when we all ended up in the Sahara ourselves a little while later.
When Michael Kenworthy decided to don his new ZSC Command tshirt, he changed mid-room without thinking it through – and ended up with people throwing dollars at him. To say he blushed when he realized his mistake would be the understatement of the decade.
Steve played a quick game of ball with The Walking Dead cast mates Chandler Riggs, Adrian Kali Turner and Addy Miller that involved a ninja strike from Norman before he had to take off for his next mission.
As a result of events at Spooky Empire, Zombie Survival Crew, we now have a new standard operating procedure for all future Cons. ZSC cadres are requested to check in with Command as early as possible to set parameters for Command protection and integrity for the duration of the event.
Let me tell you why….
It was apparent pretty early on that Spooky Empire May-Hem was going to live up to its name.
My eventually successful attempt to retrieve Light Blue Brigade Commander Anthony Guajardo and his mother Lisa from the airport involved about 35 minutes of driving around in circles – which, I have to say is vastly less exhausting than running around in circles, but still kind of crazy. Shortly after we got to the resort, Lisa crashed in my room. Within minutes? Anthony crashed. Shortly thereafter yours truly was dreaming about sugar plum fairies.
When we awoke – now hopelessly late for set up and early meetings – we immediately discussed the possibility that the Unnamed Government Agency had somehow infiltrated the event and put us all out for reasons we probably wouldn’t want to guess.
Set up involved a crazy mad dash into the celebrity signing room where we would spend the weekend recruiting new members as personalities from The Walking Dead, Boondock Saints, Night of the Living Dead and Evil Dead thrilled the fans.
ZSC loyalist @buttrscotchboom (a.k.a. Leigh-Anne) showed up shortly after the event opened and adopted a defensive position to assist Command. And she got there just in time – as I was soon to fall victim to a gruesome attack by Bill Hinzman, better known as Zombie #1 from George Romero’s masterpiece Night of the Living Dead. I did manage to escape with an assist from Leigh-Anne and Lisa only to discover that Anthony was passed out on the ZSC table. We revived him – debriefed around the assault that left him incapacitated – and proceeded to scour the room for potential UGA moles.
By the time Norman arrived on the scene we were in full defensive deployment mode. We – with our allies from the Dixon’s Vixens – informed Blue Brigade Commander of the multiple attempted attacks just as a predator drone strike took aim at Norman. He was able to escape but inadvertently left Rocco in the line of fire. We bobbed. We weaved. We even retreated at one point to try and regroup. The UGA was relentless. I left Rocco and Anthony with armed guards Leigh-Anne and Lisa and ventured – at 3 a.m. – to find us some food to keep up our strength.
The food resupply was just what we needed to help us strategize – we crafted code words, evac plans and communications to aid us in predator evasion and keeping Command intact for the weekend.
With that, we were ready to face the hordes. Or so we thought ….
Part I of some tips for the troops from the leader of the Orange Brigade ~ R.C. Murphy
As you can see, the living dead are not walking amongst us. They are not banging down farmhouse doors in search of flesh to sate the unrelenting hunger that drives them. Right this moment the dead are doing what they do best; staying dead.
However, signs of the pending Zombiepocalypse are popping up around the globe. Birds are falling right out of the sky. Fish started doing the glossy-eyed backstroke. Bees are making themselves scarce. While some might argue the last as a good thing, others are concerned. Rightfully so, we think.
That is why we at the ZSC are encouraging members to get to know the enemy now, before the first zombie rises. Obviously there are no animated corpses for us to study, however there are numerous films and television programs that will suffice until the time comes to kick some undead butt.
Thanks to George Romero and his Dead series of movies, most of us grew up knowing only one kind of undead menace. In Night of the Living Dead the Romero zombies were slow, stupid, and died pretty darned easy once one learned that you had to damage the brain to kill them. However, these zombies did something none of the others have. They evolved. Or more accurately, they re-evolved; becoming a shadow of the human they were before death. Romero zombies (as of the 2009 release of Survival of the Dead) are smart enough to use crude weapons. However, these zombies are still lacking speed and death is certain if the brain is damaged, making them the easiest breed to dispose of.
Movies with a similar breed of zombie are Zombieland (2009), Shaun of the Dead (2004), and Fido (2006). The cause of resurrection is unknown in this breed of zombie. Theories abound. Some consider it an alien attack. Others blame radiation from a meteor. Whatever the cause, the virus that mutates the dead is unpredictable. It will kill the host slowly, painfully. Resurrection time after death seems to vary, even within the Romero series, which is considered the “zombie bible” for some fans. The best course of action if one of this breed bites a fellow crewmember is to dispatch the victim with a single bullet to the brain. This will save them from agonizing pain and ensure they do not rise from the dead to gnaw on your kneecaps.
A lesser-known breed of zombie is the Nuclear zombie. This breed consists of humans that have been mutated due to exposure to nuclear waste or radiation from a nuclear bomb. Examples of Nuclear zombies can be found in Dance of the Dead (2008), I was a Teenage Zombie, and the short film “Zombie Prom” (2006). Like the Romero zombie, these undead move slowly and retain little of their human selves. (Except for “Zombie Prom”, which is an adaptation of a stage musical. Yes, dancing zombies, folks.) Killing them is simple, blunt trauma to the skull/brain.
Nuclear zombies infect victims in a similar method to Romero zombies, by swapping bodily fluids. Not as disgusting as it sounds, though you won’t see any of us lining up and offering to play lunch buffet for a zombie. The radiation that resurrects the zombies mutates their saliva and blood. Exposure to nuclear waste or radiated bodily fluids of the undead turns you into one almost instantly.
That is the conclusion of part one, lesson one. Take your time to research the zombie breeds we have covered. Visit again tomorrow for part two of What Breed of Zombie Is It?