Monday, June 13, 2011

Zombiemania

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Zombiemania - 4 out of 5

Zombies are everywhere now. They are a big business and filmmakers and writers know that as long as you throw zombies into the story, brainless peons will shuffle their way into the theater or bookstore to pick up whatever piece of crap you throw onto the screen or pages (isn't that right Marvel Zombies and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?) Well, in 2008, Starz produced a little documentary that focuses on the presence that zombies have in the popular media but if you're one of those types who watches zombie films for the gore, you probably won't want to watch this because the focus of this film was the social commentary zombies make.

Personally, I'm a big fan of zombie but I hate 99% of all zombie media. While I may enjoy films like Flight of the Living Dead on an ironic level, the reality is that most zombie stories are thrown together, filled with blood and then tossed out to the masses that are pretty much zombies themselves. I don't want to sound like a snob but I want some intelligence to come with the brainless undead. That's why films like Night of the Living Dead and works like World War Z and The Walking Dead speak to me. The gore and the violence isn't the focus--it's the impact this sudden change on the world has on survivors and how the presence of the living dead give off an eerie mirror image of the world we once knew.

The film does a great job complying interviews from psychiatrists who discuss why zombies have become huge as well as insight into the men who made this a pop culture explosion. Men like George A. Romero (the man who gave birth to the zombie genre and clearly stopped trying to make quality films after Land of the Dead. Remember when his films were filled with social and political commentary and not just bad jokes and gore?) The film also has extensive talks with Max Brooks and the influence he's had in keeping the ideas of decaying corpses trying to consume the living fresh and interesting--as well as how to survive the zombie apocalypse (I'm still waiting for this day to come). These interviews are informative and thought provoking but the doc also provides a little fun as it talks with Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini and the technical work that went into creating zombies on film. But one of my favorite portions of the movie is when the creator of the graphic novel Dead Eyes Open admits that most people phone in the zombie genre by filling it with gore because that's what the masses want. That statement is a sad commentary on the state of art and fiction in America. "We don't care about quality, just make it visceral so I don't have to think."

However, if you're one of the people who, after watching Dawn of the Dead, sit down and discuss how Romero was making great points about how the commercialization of our society has basically turned us into buying zombies, you'll love this documentary. My only real complaint about this film is the fact it is too short--Starz could have made this longer. But then again, if they did, we would have had to deal with them looking into the films that, in my opinion, ruined Romero's credibility as the grandfather of the zombie film: Diary of the Dead and Survivor of the Dead. I certainly don't want that.

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