Doc of the Dead (2014)

Doc of the Dead (2014)

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Tom Savini's always had at least one body stuck to his ceiling.
Tom Savini’s always had at least one body stuck to his ceiling.

Twitter Plot Summary: A documentary discussing the zombie phenomenon with interviews from famous names in the genre.

Five Point Summary:

1. Fake news bulletin. Standard.
2. Origins of the genre.
3. George Romero. Legend.
4. Fast zombies: good and bad points.
5. Viral infections.

For anybody who has read the majority of my reviews (and if you have – bravo), you may have noticed that I have a particularly keen interest in zombie subculture and the sheer number of different methods in which the undead are presented across multiple media formats, be it film, television, comics, books or otherwise. Subsequently I was always going to tune into a documentary that was specifically about my favourite horror genre.

The key issue is that if you’re already a massive fan of the genre, as I am, there isn’t really anything new discussed. We get a whistle-stop tour of the genre, its origins, recent developments and how it has remained relevant for so many decades. Apart from that it remains very much a surface level analysis of the genre, one better designed for newcomers to zombie culture rather than those who are deeply engrossed in the lore. Despite the fact I learned nothing new, if you are a noob then the talking heads do a very good job at explaining the appeal of zombies and why they remain more relevant today than at any point in their history. The likes of George Romero, Simon Pegg, Max Brooks, Robert Kirkman and Bruce Campbell offer their input, covering everything from the various styles of zombie and the story possibilities they create. Despite the fact we’re talking about reanimated corpses there is a lot of story potential from that basic starting point.

The Charlie Chaplin and zombie conferences had clearly double booked the venue.
The Charlie Chaplin and zombie conferences had clearly double booked the venue.

The most interesting aspect is the discussion of the possibility of a genuine outbreak, albeit not with legitimate living dead but with parasitic infections or other genuinely possible viral or bacterial infections that could create both the appearance of death and/or create fast/slow zombies as appropriate. If such an outbreak were to occur, it would most likely take the form of a 28 Days Later style infection rather than the dead returning to life. In any case, it’s a point worth exploring given recent developments in medicine and our understanding of parasitic, bacterial and viral infections.

I would have perhaps liked to have seen more about the impact the genre has had on mass media, as this isn’t discussed in any great detail – they’re popular and in the mainstream these days, but it wasn’t a topic explored as much as I’d have preferred. I would have also liked perhaps a few more minutes on the debate between slow and fast zombies, as that addition to the mythos has been a literal shot of adrenalin to the genre. – Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake doesn’t even get to make an appearance. There’s also absolutely no coverage of the European or Japanese/Asian input to the genre other than the big obvious one, Shaun of the Dead. The likes of Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento aren’t even name-checked, nor is the work of low budget auteurs like David Cronenberg or more obscure works like the madcap insanity of Noboru Iguchi’s Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead. It’s a good starting point, but you’re really going to have to dig deeper into the genre to find the real gems.

Score: 3/5

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