Day of the Dead

We’re trying to keep the number of “Essentials” to a dozen or so – the bare minimum to be considered by an actual, no-doubt zomfan. But minimums be damned: you have to have the first three Romero movies on your shelf, analog or digital, if you ever hope to look at your own decaying flesh in the mirror, don’t you?

Even after all these years – and keep in mind, Day of the Dead appeared more than 35 years ago – Day still holds up (far better than its two poorly executed remakes, the less said about either, the better). Most of the story takes place in an underground bunker where soldiers and scientists are hiding as the world collapses, trying to find a cure, or at least a way to defeat the zombies that have taken over the world. In doing so, they’ve also discovered ways to not only weaponize the walkers, but to make them (a little) smarter, thus giving us the movie’s single greatest addition to the zombie mythos: Bub, the wrinkly old comic zom from which all “zombie with a gun” tropes emerge.

It’s a grim and somehow gleeful little film, and a fitting capstone to the trilogy that started it all. We tend to pull this one out with a re-watch at least once a year, and – just like Bub himself – it never gets old.

Don’t confuse it with the excellent but much newer TV series by the same name. We’ll talk about that elsewhere. But when you’re building your Essentials shelf, don’t you dare forget Day.