Night of the Dead (1985): George Romero’s Panel in the Horror Trilogy of Night of the Living Dead

Horror maestro George A. Romero wrote and directed Night of the Dead, a post-apocalyptic zombie horror, produced by Richard P. Rubinstein.

The third film in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead series, it stars Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy and Richard Liberty.

They play a group of survivors of a zombie apocalypse sheltering in an underground bunker in Florida, where they must determine the outcome of humanity’s conflict with the undead horde.

Romero described the film as a “tragedy about how a lack of human communication causes chaos and collapse even in this small little pie slice of society.”

Work on the movie began shortly after the release of the previous film in the series, Dawn of the Dead (1978).

It was developed as part of a three-film deal with the distributor, United Film Distribution Company (UFDC).

However, Romero chose to make first the two other projects outlined in the deal, Knightriders (1981) and Creepshow (1982).

Although the filmmaker was given final cut, the screenplay was rewritten multiple times due to UFDC’s concerns that Romero’s original vision–described as “the Gone with the Wind of zombie films”–would be slapped with an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America to ensure its commercial release.  As a result, Romero made the movie on a lower budget and release it without a rating.

Day of the Dead was shot in 1984, with above-ground scenes in the cities of Fort Myers and Sanibel and underground scenes near Wampum, Pennsylvania.

Tom Savini, who returned as the film’s special make-up effects, was assisted by artists that included Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger, who later became known for their work on the seminal TV series, The Walking Dead.

Day of the Dead premiered at Hicksville, New York on June 30, 1985, and grossed $34 million worldwide against a budget of $4 million.

Initially, the film did not match the critical and commercial success of its predecessors.  Thus, the series didn’t see another installment until the 2005 Land of the Dead.

Romero’s Personal Favorite

However, reception of the film has improved with time, and Romero deemed it to be his personal favorite of the original Dead trilogy.

Cult Status

Like its predecessors, Day of the Dead has garnered a cult following and inspired numerous parodies and homages.

The film was remade twice, first in 2008 under the same name, and the second in 2018, titled, Day of the Dead: Bloodline.

A TV series based on the film began airing on Syfy in 2021.

A stand-alone sequel, Night of the Living Dead II, is in  development.


TCM showed the movie on April 2, 2022.