Film Review: Doc of the Dead (2014)

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DOTD_poster__27x40_FINAL1What self-appointed horror fan doesn’t love a good horror documentary? We’ve been spoilt over recent years with the likes of Crystal Lake Memories and Never Sleep Again covering the adventures of Jason and Freddy, and film fans do love to find out little stories and bits of information from behind the screen. There have even been documentaries that have tried to cover genres, with varying success.

Doc of the Dead aims to cover the zombie genre – obviously – and does well. The number of talking heads on show is impressive. Everyone from the Godfather of the modern zombie film, George A Romero, to the new breed, including Max Brooks make an appearance. They all weigh in here on the genre that just, like its main monsters, won’t die.

What’s good about this documentary is that it doesn’t just concentrate on zombie cinema. Instead we delve into a wide spectrum of zombie entertainment, covering virtually the whole zeitgeist of the walking ghouls. Everything from board games to television, zombie shopping mall survival experiences to zombie walks are covered in one way or another. This keeps the documentary fresh and exciting.

However, as well as being a strength, this tendency to want to cover everything is also a weakness. As a viewer you are left wanting to know more about certain subjects, but by the time your interest is piqued in a certain area, the filmmakers are already moving onto the next. For example, there is only brief coverage of fan movies, Thriller flash mobs and so on. If there is one thing that fan documentaries have taught us in recent years, it’s that the fans can be the most fascinating part of a successful franchise or genre.

It’s fascinating to hear Bruce Campbell reminisce about marrying two fans at their own zombie wedding, and to have other commentators who don’t usually show up in these documentaries, such as Breathers author Scott G Browne and Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, is a real treat.

You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t watch this as it does breathe some fresh life into a rancid corpse, but it is one release where you really relish the idea of an extended director’s cut. Maybe there will be a sequel. For once, we can only hope.

JD GILLAM

Director: Alexandre O. Philippe
Starring: Max Brooks, George A. Romero, Simon Pegg, Bruce Campbell, Robert Kirkman
Certificate: 15
Release date: 30 March 2015

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