Day of the Dead (USA, 1985)
Directed by George A. Romero
Starring Lori Cardille, Joseph Pilato, Terry Alexander, Jarlath Conroy
While Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead have both been embraced as horror icons, Day of the Dead has never quite got the credit or attention it deserves. All too often it is seen as a footnote to George A. Romero's early work with zombies, being generally regarded as watchable but weaker than its predecessors. In fact, it represents a return to form, rounding off the Dead Trilogy with one of the bleakest, most nihilistic films of the 1980s.
Gone with the Wind of zombie movies", increasing the number of locations to truly capture what a global zombie apocalypse would look like. But during pre-production the budget was slashed from $7m to $3.5m, forcing Romero into drastic re-writes. The shooting conditions were so humid that Tom Savini's props failed regularly, causing delays that eventually led to cast and crew sleeping at the locations to cut down on travel time. This would certainly account for both the rough-and-ready aesthetic of the film and the often crazed performances within it.
interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, John Landis remarked that stories about monsters, whether literary or cinematic, were often very conservative works. He argued that they shored up the authority of the church and state by showing the darker side of scientific progress, or the extremes to which 'science' could go if not properly checked. This idea is conveyed here by the conflict between the scientists, whose experiments have no real time constraints, and the military led by Captain Rhodes, who follow strict rules and only want useable results. Our main protagonists are civilians caught in the middle of this powder keg, with survival resting on their leaders' ability to balance the power.
The Thing, and like that film the characters spend a great deal of their time being paranoid about their own security or identity. And there is a vague connection to Assault on Precinct 13, insofar as both films involve disparate groups of characters fighting together to contain a shifting threat.
The Thing, stretching out the Captain's limbs until his whole body is destroyed. But for all the squirming it induces, the gore does loosely fit the tone, complimenting (however literally) the feeling that everything around us is falling apart.