BOOK REVIEW: THE MAKING OF GEORGE A. ROMERO'S DAY OF THE DEAD / AUTHOR: LEE KARR / PUBLISHER: PLEXUS / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 2014
While the original Night of the Living Dead has been eulogised in print numerous times, and the follow up Dawn of the Dead likewise has had plenty of column inches devoted to it, the third film, Day of the Dead seems to be the forgotten son. Until now, that is. Karr's lavishly (and gorily) illustrated and meticulously researched tome takes the reader through the full development of the story, from the initial script drafts to its lukewarm reception and eventual acceptance as a classic example of intelligent horror cinema.
Covering the entire history of the production in detail in a diary format, the main bulk of the book (Chapter 3) is a fascinating read, brilliantly informative without being too technical or dry. Recounting the 56-day shoot retrospectively, Karr instils the process with comments and recollections from many of the cast and crew involved. One date in particular - December 6th, 1984 - stands out, as it was actor Joe Pilato's final scene; the famous moment in which hordes of the ravenous dead tear him apart. Rare photographs of the various stages of Tom Savini and Greg Nicotero's stunning special effect make-up naturally accompany this, some of which are so graphic that one can almost smell the infamous putrefied pig entrails used to pack out the fake part of Captain Rhodes. As brilliantly detailed as the text is, the photos make the book even more compelling. Many are, as one would expect, gloriously gory, which allows the reader to really inspect the remarkable work the effects team did, although there are also some that are rather amusing, showing that all the crew had a blast while making the film.
Like the film itself, the book is such a remarkable read that one can imagine coming back to it many times in the future. Nicotero provides the foreword to this opus, revealing he had hoped to publish a similar account himself not long after the film's release, and as such provided a wealth of notes and material from his archive. We can only be thankful that he documented the shoot as thoroughly as it's superb and an essential addition to any fan's bookshelf.