31 Nights of Halloween Movies: Watch 'Day of the Dead' To Celebrate 'The Walking Dead' Anniversary

Horror movies aren't just for Halloween. This October, horror fans across the country are challenging themselves to watch one horror movie a day. So we'll be bringing you our favorites, all month, one horror movie a night.

Fifteen years ago, on Oct. 8, the very first issue of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead was released. The landmark zombie series has run for 183 issues and spawned a TV series now in its ninth season. Kirkman's comic accomplished what zombie movies could only ever imply: the purgatorial and ongoing experience of life in a world ruled by the dead.

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The cover for Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" #1. Image Comics

So what better way to celebrate Kirkman's comic than by watching his favorite zombie movie, 1985's...

Day of the Dead

In George Romero's Night of the Living Dead we witness the beginnings of the zombie outbreak (Or ghouls—like in The Walking Dead, the word zombie is never used). We watch the media, generals, politicians and scientists scurry about, pretending to understand the phenomena, even as the main characters, besieged in a farmhouse, reveal just how much the normal rules of society have been irrevocably shattered.

Its sequel, Dawn of the Dead, depicts civilization's last gasp, as police raid apartment buildings (endangering the living as much as the dead) and the TV stations fall silent. All that's left for survivors to feed off the salvage in a suburban mall, until even that is ripped apart by a rampaging army of savage bikers.

Day of the Dead opens on a dead, still city. Survivors, members of a joint scientific-military operation, explore the Florida coastal cities for survivors. No one responds to the echoing cry from their bullhorn, "Hello… is anyone there? Helloooo?" They live out their days in a bunker, securing zombie specimens for study by a shrinking team of scientists. There are no tangible signs of progress save Bub, a docile zombie named who loves listening to music through his headphones.

In Day of the Dead, we've already lost. The only options are whether to persevere, retire to a beach, or, as too many would prefer, to crush any aspirational endeavor under the totalitarian bootheel of military force. Day of the Dead is an experience in despair.

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Joseph Pilato as Rhodes in George Romero's "Day of the Dead." Shout! Factory / United Film Distribution Company

But there's more to Day of the Dead than crushing inevitability. It is a masterpiece in special makeup effects from artist Tom Savini. Guts fall out of an exposed rib cage. A man's scream gets higher and higher as zombies stretch his vocal chords while tearing off his head. The gore in Day of the Dead is a high watermark in zombie movie history, surpassing Lucio Fulci's 1979 Zombi 2 and only ever topped with cartoonish excess, as in Peter Jackson's Dead Alive.

So celebrate the birth of The Walking Dead with Day of the Dead, because when there's no more room in hell …

Here's What We've Watched So Far:

  • Night #1 - Mandy
  • Night #2 - Dementia 13
  • Night #3 - Messiah of Evil
  • Night #4 - The Legend of Boggy Creek
  • Night #5 - Rawhead Rex
  • Night #6 - Puppet Master II
  • Night #7 - Halloween III: Season of the Witch
31 Nights of Halloween Movies: Watch 'Day of the Dead' To Celebrate 'The Walking Dead' Anniversary | Culture