Of George Romero’s three great zombie flicks—Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead—the last is the least good. A bunch of normals, headed by lunk headed and sadistic military men taking care of a number of crazed scientists, live in a bunker underground. They go out now and then and round up a few zombies and then the scientists do horrible things to the zombies to see if they can cure or control them. By the time the normals are done with what they do, you start to wondering: who’s worse—the normals or the zombies. Sort of Romero’s be nice to a Zombie movie, or the start of a society for the prevention of cruelty to zombies.
When I saw somebody had made a remake or redo of Day of the Dead, I decided to check it out. As I had with the remake of Dawn of the Dead—not as good as the original, in feel, or intent—more of an action flick, really, but with good production values. And Ving Rhames who is always good.
Sadly, Day of the Dead’s resemblance to the original was purely coincidental. Were I Romero I would sue, because if you are looking for a remake of Day of the Dead—this isn’t it at all. More a pastiche or conglomeration of any number of Zombie flicks.
Also the zombies themselves have changed since Romero’s original conception. The original Zombies in Night were, if you recollect, rather slow, dim witted and plodding creatures. They were not capable of high speeds and sort of stumbled along woodenly, with their arms stretched out for no clear reason. They were not all that strong either. They captured their victims, if that is the word, mostly by overwhelming them with sheer numbers. Your original zombies were really pack animals. They would surrounded a person and then sort of fall all over him or her and then eat their brains out. They were sad creatures who took no real pleasure in what they were doing—they just had to have those brains was all.
But the remake of Day had those new, upgraded zombies that have been around since at least 28 Days. These zombies become zombies by the spread of some sort of virus—usually created by the government for the purposes of germ warfare—and they are like zombies on steroids. All pumped up like PCP hop heads or something. These guys can run really fast and in some cases they seem to be abnormally strong; I mean stronger than your normal human. Additionally, these zombies seem to enjoy what they are doing—I mean ripping limbs off of people. It’s like these sadists have watched too much TV.
I liked the old zombies better. As I said, they were sort of sad—as if they had lost something and were looking for it by eating brains. These new zombies, though, well, they seem to have pretty high self-esteem and more happy than not with being a zombie—because it’s sort of high. I don’t know if this change in zombies reflects some deeper cultural change in society’s attitude towards zombies, or maybe they just make for faster action.