Saturday, October 20, 2012
George Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD, reviewed by Travis Hedge Coke
One of the best war movies of the Eighties, Day of the Dead starts out on its last, tense nerve, and begins for two hours to peel, fray, and bombard that nerve to terrifying stimulation.
There’s a fear and a frame for everyone in audience. Sexism, racism, class-ism, militarism, vacation-ism, and entitlement are explored at various angles. This is a lost war, and as one of the scientists says, “We’re in the minority now.” Our lead is the only woman on base, probably from the moment the assignment began. Her boyfriend is the only Puerto Rican and the only one visibly cracking up. One black man with a foreign accent. There’s whole group of white soldiers, and they are often responded to as if the group were a one, but even as they hold onto that, themselves, they feel a minority, they, like their CO, like everyone to one degree or another, feels entitlement being stolen away and the encroachment of a new overwhelming status quo.
This is how the world ends in Nineteen Eighty-Five, not with a bang or a whimper, but with well-armed white American men worried their becoming the minority and losing their shit in a firestorm of aggressive fear. In duty overtaking sensible fight or flight responses. In elitists failing to measure up to their own elitism. Soldiers running out of ammo killing an already dead enemy.
“That’s the trouble with the world,” someone says during the movie, “people got different ideas concerning what they want out of life.” That’s a hard thing to accept, even when zombies aren’t trying to tear you apart. Facing hordes of the living dead, a world desolate of human life but teeming with movement and with rot, what good is holding down the fort? What’s the worth of a last stand? When you are all alone, how do gauge a war you, alone, may be fighting?