Doc of the Dead (TV-14, 81 minutes)
The new documentary from Alexandre O. Philippe, the filmmaker behind The People vs. George Lucas, follows the history of the undead. Doc of the Dead tries to establish itself as the definitive documentary of all zombie information, while also trying to understand the phenomenon behind its recent explosion into mainstream society. The thing about this documentary is that horror or zombie-enthusiasts will already know plenty of this information, but one cannot fault the thoroughness of the documentary: especially with how in depth Doc of the Dead goes at a brisk 81 minute runtime.
The history of the zombie film is quite interesting because George A. Romero did not create the term, but how the general public defines the word is based off of Romero’s films. And though the documentary uses Romero as the ‘guiding light,’ I thoroughly like how the film quickly and efficiently defines zombie. It smartly takes the viewer back to the original zombie pictures like White Zombie, while also talking about Hollywood’s voodoo misinterpretations and the actual definition of the word. Again, the movie does a good job taking the viewer from the basic understanding of zombie lore to the modern description of the undead; but what separates this film from other zombie documentaries are the interviewees.
Between Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead), Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead), George A. Romero (Night, Dawd,and Day of the Dead), Max Brooks (World War Z), Doc of the Dead collects a fantastically varied group of ‘zombie experts.’ And each perfectly encapsulates this obsession with zombies; yes, flesh eaters have been around for over forty years, but why are they so popular now? And with these awesome interviews, Philippe interweaves a fantastic narrative that shows how zombies are bleeding into everyday society; between zombie 5Ks and zombie walks in major cities, this horror genre has turned the undead into social events where people meet and converse without technology. But there are also drawbacks to this obsession. Mainly, the people who actually believe that the zombie apocalypse will happen; the film makes sure to interview a few crazies, while also talking to scientists to see if this apocalypse is a possibility. And like any thoroughly researched documentary every angle of the undead is observed; and that is why this will be the definitive zombie documentary.
Well, at least until the next zombie documentary is made; I should use the word definitive loosely because the future of zombie culture is uncertain and ever changing. Perhaps, the present is the peak of this craze and years from now the fandom will drift into oblivion; but until the next inevitable zombie documentary, Doc of the Dead is entertaining and informative enough to be the documentary for undead fans and ‘newbies.’
On a very important sidenote, several people, including Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg, are considered ‘Zombie Experts or Historians,’ which is extremely cool; how do I get that title?