Braaaaaaaaaaaains! Cough, sorry about that, talk of zombies makes me hungry.
The zombie fascination has reached pandemic levels and Doc of the Dead examines how fans have reached voracious fixation from humble beginnings in the 1930s.
Examining the evolution of the zombie with a decidedly American perspective, Doc of the Dead researches the horror sub-genre in just 80 minutes.
This is not a historical documentary, nor should you expect an anthropologically critical probe into zombie lore. The film glosses over the true beginnings of human reanimation of the dead and how it came to be this inherent sensational fear within humanity.
Doc of the Dead is a documentary of the modern American zombie film. It starts with the widely acknowledge first zombie movie, 1932’s White Zombie, and then quickly skips right to George A. Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead. Romero is the focus of most of the film history perspective and he is attributed as the seminal father of the zombie flick. It then jumps ahead to the funny zombie of the 1980s with Return of the Living Dead and by the 20 minute mark we are at the modern day zombie of the 2000s as in 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead and beyond.
As the film delves into the zombie variations as a species it tracks back to other pivotal films like The Evil Dead and Re-Animator. Doc of the Dead investigates the fast versus slow zombie, the charming versus bloodthirsty zombie, and the arguments for different sides.
My greatest criticism of the documentary is its unnecessary focus on how zombie culture has evolved into this integrated and participatory immersion. 45 minutes are wasted highlighting the different zombie walks, products and consumerism. It completely veers off its clear direction for the second half of the documentary. Rather than charting zombie history chronologically as it does for the first twenty minutes, this preoccupation with pop culture causes the documentary to lurch about through time aimlessly.
Without that filler, the film’s writers and director Alexandre O. Philippe and Chad Herschberger easily could have utilized the knowledge of the experts involved. Max Brooks, Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero and countless others’ zombie insight is vastly underutilized. Further, the movie can not claim to be a comprehensive zombie documentary while ignoring foreign contributors such as Lucio Fulci and Italian zombie cinema, French zombie and Asian zombie horror.