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Day of the Dead (1985) | History of Horror

Pierce Turner

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Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at unfspinnaker.com every day for a new installment!

Day of the Dead (1985) is the third film in George Romero’s trilogy of zombie masterpieces. Following up Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead may seem impossible, but Romero nailed it.

This film takes place almost entirely underground after the zombie apocalypse seen in the first two films has hit critical mass. The film follows a new group of survivors led by military man, Captain Rhodes (Joe Pilato). He’s insane and probably more dangerous than any zombie. They’re all holding out down there while scientists are trying to unlock the secrets of the undead. One zombie is even tamed and learns basic functions and human instincts.

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Of course, it all goes horribly wrong and zombies get loose in the base, killing almost everyone. The best part about this film is the practical effects. I’m not exaggerating when I say this film has to have the best effects in any horror movie ever made. Guts spill out of bodies, heads are ripped off, and jaws crumble from faces. It’s disgustingly awesome. They’re done, once again, by Tom Savini, with help from Greg Nicotero, who went on to do the effects for The Walking Dead. In fact, this film is easily the the biggest inspiration for The Walking Dead comics.

Day of the Dead completes Romero’s “Dead Trilogy” perfectly. Even though none of the movies have any recurring characters, they all form a defined arc. Night of the Living Dead was the beginning and took place completely at night, Dawn of the Dead was the dawn of the apocalypse where it was starting to get out of control, and Day of the Dead is exactly that: the dead rule, it’s their day.

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These are easily the three best zombie movies ever made and are an absolute requirement for anyone who loves horror or the undead. If you like The Walking Dead, you need to see this trilogy to learn the full history of zombies. They’re the only famous horror creature whose history can be easily traced in just a few films. Seriously, watch these movies.


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Day of the Dead (1985) | History of Horror