Re-Watch:: Day of the Dead (1985) By Unk

I finally did it. I finally watched DAY OF THE DEAD again. I've been talking about doing it for years. Here's the thing: back in let's say, 1986 after DOTD had completed its initial run, me and my younger brother went to see it at a midnight show at a local mall in Texas where my family had just moved to. I thought the movie was great, very thought-provoking and frightening but it also left me with a terrible feeling. It was like this dour, depressive, hopeless ennui that was difficult to shake. It was such a nasty mental residue that even though I've revisited George A. Romero's other films multiple times, I never checked it out again because it seemed like gambling with my psychological well-being. Jeez, I even own DAY OF THE DEAD on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray knowing one day I'd bite the bullet but somehow I always found an excuse to avoid it until just recently (coincidentally right before the anniversary of its release date). Anyway, here's how it went...

What was I thinking? DAY OF THE DEAD is awesome and sure, there are a few nihilistic moments but it's not anywhere near as depressing as I thought it was. In fact, it's kinda rousing and exciting, introduces the most personable living dead creature I've ever encountered ("Bub") and features a very rare (for a zombie flick) happy ending. Ironically it's rather an uplifting or at least cathartic affair as all the bad guys are treated to horrible fates and the few decent characters are treated to an island paradise. I couldn't have been more wrong, there's plenty of fun to be had here. There's almost a carnival-like video game shoot ‘em up atmosphere when a couple of the heroes are trapped in a funhouse-like cavern and must press forward to get to the exit on the other side.

It turns out my experience had much to do with my own baggage. I was not in a good place in life and I guess the movie exasperated some of my fears and insecurities at the time. Looking back, I remember that I had recently had some frightening drug experiences, had to say goodbye to a few friends and was living in a new state I felt extremely uncomfortable in. Plus it was the eighties and AIDS was everywhere and I think a movie about a contamination so damning it would lead you to suicide hit my vulnerable psyche hard as a young gay man. Even the idea of the civilization coming to a halt was more frightening to me back then; these days I think I'd have more of a "Well, we kinda deserve it" reaction to such a calamity. Romero's previous dead-flick (DAWN OF THE DEAD) had that semi- enticing "live in a mall" aspect going for it. Wet blanket DAY OF THE DEAD pointedly confirms there are NO MORE MALLS and that alone was a devastating concept to this eighties kid. Sadly, I've gotten used to the idea of "no more malls" at this point (Amazon is its own sort of zombie invasion) and yikes, maybe DAY OF THE DEAD doesn't seem as dark these days because the real world has gotten so much darker (or maybe that's my steadily declining eyesight

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