Sunday, January 6, 2008


I hesitated to include DYING DAY as part of the project, since it's essentially an alternate version of RAIDERS OF THE LIVING DEAD, and I couldn't help but feel like I was cheating. However, watching Brett Piper's earlier version before Sam Sherman got his hack-director's mitts on it, I realized that not only were they were two entirely different films, but that Piper's original take was better--better as in interesting, since the production value is still rather sloppy.

Focused more on the supernatural than a man-made zombie menace, DYING DAY begins with a dual prologue--one in 1897 and another in 1935--that sets up the film's premise, that certain members of a family tree are being eliminated by the living dead; Robert Sacchetti, who was reduced to a minimal role in RAIDERS in large part to his poor acting skills, is behind the zombie uprising, thanks to a mysterious graveside rite.

Despite the extremely rough quality of the film (particularly the crappy lighting and unsynchronized sound--I can see why Sherman thought he had a dog on his hands), DYING DAY has a far richer mood than Sherman's more professional version, with a nice Gothic feel that offsets the amateurish nature of the production. Scenes have a tendency to drag, but this cut may not have been fully edited to Piper's liking; in either case, the central story is extraordinarily stiff with sequences that rely much too heavily on dialogue and "action" executed way too slowly. Performances range from adequate to you-must-be joking, though the best stuff was recycled into RAIDERS.

Perhaps I'm being generous, since I saw DAY shortly after the creaky tedium that is RAIDERS, but I found this version to be far more watchable.

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