Restless and alone in a brick-paved cubicle, Sarah sees a calendar before her on the wall. It is the month of October and every day is crossed out. While gazing at the image of a pumpkin patch, a dozen decayed arms punch through the wall clutching at her. She wakes from this surreal horror in the back of a helicopter. She's reminded she is living a real nightmare, looking down over a deserted Florida city, in which they land near an abandoned harbor. She is part of a team searching for survivors of a gruesome crisis that began almost a year earlier. Something that started mysteriously and eventually collapsed human civilization...
Her lover Miguel, a nerve-wracked soldier, calls for survivors on a bullhorn
as they stand on the edge of the street of this now decaying town. Amid the
scattered palm fronds, a newspaper blows in the death-scented wind near an early
century federal building. It's big bold headline: THE DEAD WALK! (possibly one
of the last papers ever printed).
The unburied and/or recently dead had risen from the grave mysteriously. Attacking humans to devour their flesh, most of them becoming zombies, thus adding to their population. No scientist-no army, could contain or cure it. Now the only living things are the alligators, tarantulas and land crabs that scavenge remains in the streets of this city of the living dead. The hundreds of wailing hordes of dead humans turn towards the bullhorn calls and en masse, march toward the survivors instinctively like cattle, forcing the team to head back to their sanctuary...
The helicopter lands almost out of gas inside the military compound surrounded by wire fence. An army of the living dead have managed to find the post and surround the entrance gates, their numbers growing every day. Two more soldiers help secure the chopper down giving their new past times an afternoon break: Johnson, who reads the last issues of porno magazines while Torrez grows gardens of marijuana plants. John, the calm Jamaican pilot and his flask-swilling Irish buddy Bill McDermott are anxious to get on the elevator but not before urging the soldiers to fill the chopper up with gas. Sarah notices Miguel's becoming increasingly stressed and despondent. He hasn't gotten out of the chopper yet and apparently wasn't aware they even landed.
They descend into the underground sanctuary Seminole Storage Facility, where
they will not see sunlight again for days. Miller is another officer waiting
below for results of the team's search. This time he can tell it was another
waste of time. Everyone has to stay in the cold, lonely, clinical white cubicles
of the complex while John and Bill choose to stay in one of the Winnebagos
stored near the barricades. These are the corrals leading to miles and miles of
caves occupied by bats... and specimen zombies, collared at an earlier time by
Major Cooper who died earlier that morning, was buried above the complex near six other graves of men the unit has lost. Men lost to the dangers of capturing the hostile specimen zombies corraled from the caves. Privates Steel and Rickles are now in charge of the zombie corraling as Dr. Logan has requested two more guinea pig zombies for his experiments. Sarah and Miguel are asked by the soldiers to go along. Though tired from the 24-hour search mission, they agree and off they go into the caves in the golf cart towards the corral.
Later on, Sarah finds herself unable to sleep on the floor of the cubicle as
Miguel lays in bed. By now he must be awake. He leans over and his whole chest
has been surgically opened. Sarah is dreaming of course, the result of the visit
to the lab earlier that day. She wakes to find Miguel is indeed up and waiting
to hassle her about her fear she tries to keep a secret. She finally loses it,
screaming at Miguel to leave the room. A few moments later, she wanders the hall
of the complex, nearly getting caught in the middle of a scuffle between the
soldiers in their bunk. She meets up with McDermott, who has been wandering the
halls too. They head back to the "Ritz"-the Winnebago where he stays
with John. Serving Sarah drinks, John treats her to his calm, cool Caribbean
atmosphere he's created in the trailer. Not to mention a lengthy philosophical
lecture on how he believes that the Creator has cursed mankind and that there
can be no cure for zombification. So he urges Sarah to forget about the research
and wants to leave before the soldiers lose it completely.
The next day, Sarah finds Fisher frustrated that the specimens are not accepting a meat substitute called Beef Treats. And Logan is trying to convince them that reward is the key to conditioning them. Bub is one specimen that seems to be under control. Sparing him from dissection, and instead reacquaints him with toothbrushes, razors, phones, books, tape player and even an unloaded gun. His infantile, docile behavior is unique among the zombies although Rhodes and the men witnessing this progress still think these creatures should all be destroyed.
The next day, there's another capture attempt. Miguel once again loses
control of a female specimen-an old lady, unleashing her on an unsuspecting
Miller who is bitten on the neck. His finger is on the trigger of his machine
gun when it goes off killing Johnson in the process. Sarah destroys this lady. Miguel is then thrown into
a fit of denial, attacking the priest specimen which takes a huge bite out of his
forearm, forcing Miguel into hysteric shock. The priest is destroyed by Steel.
Sarah runs after Miguel now fleeing towards John and Bill's area. Miller begs for
Steel to end his life as he knows he would certainly become cursed with living
death. Steel looms over him and blows the
soldier's brains out.
John and Bill hearing Miguel's cries, wait in front of the Ritz. As Sarah draws John's machete from his belt, Miguel is overcome by a blow to the head and laid down. Sarah amputates his mutilated arm in one clean slice. After a hasty treatment, the soldiers led by Rhodes confront the three heroes, ready to destroy Miguel. John and Bill draw guns to defend his life. Rhodes declares that there will be no more experiments and that the specimens will be destroyed tomorrow. Leaving her shaken, Sarah finally breaks down and John comforts her.
Going back to the lab for supplies for Miguel, Sarah and Bill discover Johnson's decapitated head has been reanimated by Logan. Horrified, they follow Logan from the refrigerator room into Bub's room. There they witness the rewards he had stressed all along...the fresh remains of Miller and Johnson.
Just as the two realize what Logan has done Rhodes and the remaining soldiers
appear behind them. The Captain drags the pleading Logan into the refrigerator
to finish him off with a machine gun...amidst the dumped corpses of the military
men killed in the capture attempts. He then orders the guns removed from Sarah
Then out by the corral area, ordering John to get ready to fly, Rhodes fires a bullet into the head of Fisher to make his point. Rhodes orders Sarah and Billy into the cages leading into the zombie-infested caves. John refuses to go anywhere until they are released. Then they hear the sound of the elevator...
Steel and Rickles discover someone – Miguel - has taken apart the control box and that there is no way out of the complex now. They try to rewire it while Rhodes is attacked by John and knocked out. John flees with Rhodes' guns through the corral area to search for his friends in the caves...
John yells for Sarah and Billy and kills many would-be specimens in his
pursuit. Rhodes finally wakes up and he and Torrez head back to find Steel and
Rickles after realizing they are without weapons. A few moments later they would
need any and all weapons they could get...
Miguel had escaped and opened the front entrance gates above the complex. He
was savagely eaten alive as the elevator lowered carrying the hundreds of
zombies with it. The soldiers run for their lives but are attacked and
dismembered one by one by ten or more ghouls at once, until the whole place is
infested. Steel makes it to the complex where he finds Rhodes had locked
everyone out, so he machine guns the door and enters taking all the dead with
him. He hides in a lab where Bub finds him...firing one of the weapons he had
found near the refrigerator room where he found his slain master, Logan. Just as
Steel reloads his weapon and has an opportunity to kill Bub from behind a door,
he is reunited with the mob of zombies who've entered the room through another
While John finally meets up with Sarah and Billy near the silo, Rhodes desperately goes for his last bit of ammunition and has a final encounter with Bub still firing his pistol (his aiming getting better) who leads him to a door where a group of the dead are waiting. In a few moments, the dead are all over the labs and storage rooms feasting on the remains of the soldiers.
When the three survivors finally exit the silo they see at least a hundred zombies marching towards them and the helicopter...which may or may not have any gas. John and Bill cover Sarah as she runs to the chopper door. She opens it only to be greeted by another swarm of arms...
And just when you think the zombies became smart enough to hide in the chopper, Sarah wakes up on some island with John fishing in the surf and birds overhead. On her calendar, she marks out November 4th - the Day of the Dead according to Latin American folklore.