A beginner's guide to the Day of the Dead franchise

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The Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead

Sergei Bachlakov/DOTD S1 Productions/SYFY Day of the Dead (2021)

Zombie movie Day of the Dead was a box office disappointment when it was released in 1985. Yet director George Romero's third undead tale has inspired two remakes and now a new show with the same title which premieres on Syfy Friday. But which versions live on and which died a death? You'll find a guide to what no one is calling "the Day of the Dead quadrilogy" below.

Day of the Dead (1985)

Romero initially planned to conclude his original zombie film trilogy (which had begun with 1968's Night of the Living Dead and continued with 1978's Dawn of the Dead) in a truly epic manner, but had to scale down his plans after the budget was cut in half. Regardless, this Day of the Dead is a genuine horror masterpiece about scientists at an underground bunker attempting to find a cure for the undead plague while also dealing with the tyrannical rule of Joseph Pilato's Captain Rhodes. The film boasts special effects by the legendary Tom Savini (assisted by future Walking Dead executive producer Greg Nicotero, who also plays a soldier) and what many regard as the best zombie performance of all-time by Sherman Howard as the undead veteran "Bub."

Day of the Dead (2008)

Halloween H20 filmmaker Steve Miner directed this first remake which nodded to the military plot line from Romero's film but represented a sharp drop in quality. Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon, and Ving Rhames (who had appeared in Zack Snyder's 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake) play soldiers attempting to control a zombie outbreak in a Colorado town.

"When I got hired to write the movie, I wrote a very faithful adaptation of the original film," screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick told EW last year. "That's what they hired me to write. But through the development process, they kept stripping away everything that was related to Day of the Dead. It ended up being something so different — that's what my frustration is with that movie. If you're going to remake Day of the Dead, then remake Day of the Dead."

Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2017)

Director Hèctor Hernández Vicens' tale of survivors attempting to find a cure for the zombie plague at a remote outpost once again echoes Romero's movie and Johnathon Schaech is more-than-game as the film's main ghoul. But Day of the Dead: Bloodline adds little to the franchise other than a subtitle.

Day of the Dead (2021)

Six strangers attempt to live through the first 24 hours of a zombie apocalyose in Syfy's show, whose cast includes Mike Dopud, Kristy Dinsmore, and Morgan Holmstrom.

"MasterFX, which did all of the effects, is the company I always hire when I do my movies," says Psycho Goreman filmmaker Steven Kostanski, who directed several episodes of the series. "So I can say that the zombie effects are great, and there's lots of awesome gags, lots of nods to the original movie, while at the same time being its own unique weird thing."

Day of the Dead premieres Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.

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