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Doc of the Dead – 7

Director – Alexandre O. Philippe

Cast – Bruce Campbell, George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Simon Pegg, Sid Haig, Robert Kirkman, Stuart Gordon, Fran Kranz, Greg Nicotero, Judith O’Dea, John A. Russo

Release Year – 2014

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Zombies have become so commonplace with society today that I am not sure if I like their popularity or dislike it. It’s great to have awareness and money thrown into the sub-genre, but at the same time I’d be a liar if I said the sub-genre lost some of its edge now that “everyone” loves zombies. Nonetheless, filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe, the man behind The People. vs. George Lucas, decided to put together a documentary about zombie culture, titled Doc of the Dead. Involving some of our favorite actors and filmmakers, this 81-minute experience is one of the best horror documentaries I have seen and a must-watch for those with any interest in zombies – from newb to veteran.

The film kicks off with the most lovely of hosts, horror icon / bafoon Bruce Campbell. Bruce, Simon Pegg, and Sid Haig all speak of what zombie culture has become today, and then the man who changed it all graces the screen. I’m sure you already know this, but that man is George. A. Romero. We go through a quick history lesson on how zombies became what they are today, starting with the somnambulist in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and the voodoo zombies in White Zombie and I Walked With A Zombie. Then came George Romero, who essentially gave us the zombies that we see today. Before him zombies were essentially slaves in one way or another, and he transformed the sub-genre by implementing a much scarier origin for the undead: plagues. Mankind has survived a lot of chaos throughout our time on Earth, and while wars have decimated populations there is no greater threat to our survival than plagues. So, George Romero combined plagues and the undead. Genius, right?

Romero has quite a bit of screen time and he speaks of the significance behind his three initial zombie films, Night / Dawn / Day of the Dead, and how each of their contributed their own social commentary to the viewer. The doc then moves into another highly enjoyable element of the zombie sub-genre: comedy. In the 1980s The Return of the Living Dead started a comedic phenomenon that still exists even up to this day. Other films are mentioned, like Re-Animator, The Evil Dead, Shaun of the Dead, and 28 Days Later, answering lots of the questions the films created. Bruce Campbell speaks on whether the Deadites are really zombies, and while Danny Boyle was nowhere to be found we have a few “experts” join in on the infected vs. zombie debate made famous by 28 Days Later. Of course, no modern zombie documentary would be complete without mentioning “The Walking Dead” and including creator Robert Kirkman, who allows us into his mind and shows us how he created the highly successful comic and TV show. Philippe stops at nothing to give us a documentary that touches on as many elements as it can, and he even touches on zombie porn, which is apparently a real thing. I had no clue, and I hope for your sake that was a surprise to you as well. While I recommend this film to all horror fans, and especially to the newbies so they can learn a thing or two, I really want you horror veterans to give this a shot. Why? Because many of the genre vets we know and love appear in this documentary. Bruce Campbell, George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Simon Pegg, Sid Haig, Robert Kirkman, Stuart Gordon, Fran Kranz, Greg Nicotero, Judith O’Dea, John A. Russo, and several other notables make their way into this film, and trust me, it’s great to hear what these people have to say about zombie culture.

Overall, Doc of the Dead is one of the most enjoyable horror documentaries I have seen. Whether you are a veteran of a newb to the sub-genre, this is an 81-minute experience you need to make yourself a part of. Check it out!

Rating: 7/10

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