I was once asked if I was a fan of zombies, to which I replied with a fart noise. Maybe it wasn’t a fart noise exactly, but the spirit of what I was saying was a big ol’ fart. The reason being that there’s a big difference between “zombies” and “zombie movies”. The monster themselves are pretty boring, but the different interpretations of them in popular media can be rather interesting. Even though I like some zombie movies, my opinions on them can be controversial to die-hard horror fans, especially in regards to what constitutes a true zombie film. Seeing the names of folks involved with Doc of the Dead let you know you were going to get some interesting insights from the people who gave us our most memorable zombies in popular culture who are to thank, and in some cases to blame, for the zombie culture pandemic.
The legend himself, Stan Lee! JK LOL that’s George Romero duh.
George Romero. Greg Nicotero. Robert Kirkman. Max Brooks. Tom Savini. Although these names might not have the word “zombie” in them, mention them to anyone and zombies will surely come up. Doc of the Dead pulls all of these names, and more, into an oral history of the zombie genre and the impacts zombies have had in pop culture. Starting with movies like White Zombie and I Walked with a Zombie, the documentary leads you through the introduction of zombies into film and draws parallels between the evolution of the zombie film with what our society’s fears were. Once the evolution of the zombie film is covered, the documentary moves on to lob some of the highly controversial zombie topics at the experts, ranging from slow zombies vs. fast zombies to whether or not zombies need to be reanimated corpses to classify as “zombies”. The movie then explores how zombies have permeated into people’s real life, from zombie-themed weddings to athletic events to people preparing for the events to occur. If you’re wondering what the realities of a zombie outbreak could be, and we also get some scientists talking about what viruses of bacteria could mutate into something resembling zombie symptoms. The one thing that all the experts in the film can agree on, and the mere existence of this documentary only proves that zombies aren’t going away anytime soon.
Wouldn’t at all surprise me if Savini always had dead bodies attached to his ceiling.
If you’ve never gotten the chance to go to a horror movie convention and hear your filmmakers talk about their films and field questions from fanboys, this movie is the closest experience you can get to that. Your favorite filmmakers answering the dorkiest questions out there with completely subjective answers. Those questions have their appeal, but diehard zombie fans might have heard these folks talk about those issues before. Even though the film brings in some of the top names in zombies, there are a few random people thrown in there who don’t have a direct connection to zombies. I don’t really remember Sid Haig having much zombie film prominence, but he’s a familiar face. Bruce Campbell is interviewed and he even addresses the fact that there aren’t any “zombies” in the Evil Dead films, but instead they are Deadites. And Joanna Angel…well, she does porn and there was a The Walking Dead porn parody, so I doubt anyone will mind seeing cool boobs on the screen for a few moments. When the film starts, I had almost forgotten I was about to watch a documentary as there’s a short sequence of fake news reports all about a fictional zombie invasion featuring cameos from the zombie experts. In fact, multiple times throughout the film there are vignettes that looked like they were filmed specifically to include in this documentary as opposed to clips pulled from other movies. This was a little disorienting as I had no idea why random zombie footage was being interjected, until I realized that those vignettes were setting up the next topic that the talking heads would be discussing. Overall, Doc of the Dead could end up being a gateway for someone who started watching a zombie TV show and wanted to know more about zombie movies into the history of the genre, and the more people interested in zombies, the better. Seeing opinionated filmmakers explicitly saying “fuck fast zombies” or explaining how zombies don’t have to be corpses, as they weren’t corpses in the original zombie movies, but self-proclaimed zombie aficionados might be left wishing there was a little more to chew on.
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