[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 24 – Day of the Dead (1985)

Director: George A. Romero

Cast: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joe Pilato, Richard Liberty

Screenplay: George A. Romero

96 mins. Not Rated.

 

We lost a great one this year. Director George A. Romero (Bruiser, The Dark Half) was an innovative and topical storyteller who forever changed movies, both as a genre filmmaker and an independent one. Romero was most notable for his Living Dead franchise, and today we will be looking at the third film in that series, Day of the Dead.

The world has ended. Society has crumbled. The living dead have taken the world. What’s left of the government is in hiding in military bases, trying to solve the undead crisis. Doctor Logan (Richard Liberty, Flight of the Navigator, The Crazies), known as Frankenstein around the Everglades-based military outpost, is trying to cure the disease. On the other side, the military man Rhodes (Joe Pilato, Pulp Fiction, Digimon: The Movie) is trying to maintain order under his command in a dictatorial rule, and stuck in the middle is Dr. Sarah Bowman (Lori Cardille, No Pets, Dead and Alive: The Race for Gus Farace). As egos clash and weapons are drawn, it becomes clear that the living might be more dangerous than the dead.

I love Day of the Dead. In the six-film series, I think Day of the Dead is the best installment. A lot of my colleagues can’t stop praising Dawn of the Dead, and I love Dawn of the Dead, but for me, Day takes the finale of Dawn of the Dead and makes an entire movie out of it, and it works so well.

The performances aren’t all perfectly tuned, especially from the tertiary characters, but the tension that builds with every interaction involving Rhodes or Logan just amps it up. I won’t say that Day of the Dead is as satirical as its predecessor, and it isn’t a fun time for viewers, but the realism is disturbing and I love it.

Day of the Dead is worthy of any zombie fans praise. I think it’s Romero’s best film in a great career. If you love modern zombie works like The Walking Dead, you have to look back and see where this all came from, and Day of the Dead is the zombie genre at its most perfected.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, click here.

For my review of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, click here.

For my review of George A. Romero’s Monkey Shines, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 6 – Shock Treatment (1981)

 

Director: Jim Sharman

Cast: Jessica Harper, Cliff DeYoung, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Little Nell, Charles Gray, Barry Humphries

Screenplay: Richard O’Brien, Jim Sharman

94 mins. Rated PG.

 

Okay, so technically, I’m not sure you can call Shock Treatment a horror film. But it is a little unnerving, and I do always watch it in October right after Rocky Horror Picture Show, so screw you, I’m doing it.

Newlyweds Janet (Jessica Harper, Suspiria, Minority Report) and Brad (Cliff DeYoung, Flight of the Navigator, Wild) are not in a great place in their relationship. Janet yearns for freedom and excitement and Brad is, well, boring, and in the town of Denton, where all the townspeople gather to watch TV shows on a giant set all hours of the day, boring is a death sentence. Brad is imprisoned on the reality soap Dentonvale, where hosts Dr. Cosmo (Richard O’Brien, Dark City, The Stolen) and Nation (Patricia Quinn, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, The Lords of Salem) McKinley seek to help fix the nervous wreck. All the while, Janet is being seduced by her newfound stardom and the attention of the rich fast food mogul Farley Flavors who wishes to take Janet for his very own.

Shock Treatment is…weird. Even by Rocky Horror standards. Rather than make a straight sequel to RHPS, director Jim Sharman (The Night, The Prowler, Summer of Secrets) elected to create a wholly new musical alongside original scribe Richard O’Brien. And while I would have preferred a more traditional sequel, this follow-up does have its own merits.

First of all, I need to address that Shock Treatment actually has its own underground fan base, comparatively-sized to its predecessor, and they live for the film. Many of the elements of the satirical story do mirror events currently going on in present day America. Our addiction to likes, shares, and reality TV is something that Shock Treatment does a tremendous job playing to. And many, but not all, of the songs are quite catchy in their own way.

Overall, this film does meander quite a bit without finding footing. Characters and plotlines are introduced without much care, but the themes stand tall enough not to take away. I was also disappointed by the recasting of Brad and Janet, as I feel their chemistry wasn’t strong enough to reflect the strain on their marriage. They seem at times to really hate one another, and that doesn’t work.

Shock Treatment is a rarity in the business, a film that is indescribably strange but pulls you in very capably. I always enjoy watching it, but it is flawed indeed and I personally find it to be a step down from Rocky Horror Picture Show. But that’s just me? So which fan club are you in?

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Jim Sharman’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show, click here.

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