Doc of the Dead (2014)
Editor’s Notes: Doc of the Dead opens in Canada, starting in Toronto July 11th at Cineplex Yonge-Dundas.
The living dead first invaded our cinemas, then our televisions, then our video games, and now they have overflowed into our streets. There seems to be no stopping the dead from devouring every form of media that exists. With such a catastrophic takeover underway, have you ever stopped to wonder how it all began?
The film not only serves as a great overview of zombie history, but also a delving analysis that unearths the universal themes that keep our interest in the walking dead alive… but still dead.
If you think you know the story, if you think it all started in the late 1960s with George A. Romero’s masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead, you might be shocked to discover you’re dead wrong. Even worse, if you think the story started with zombies running after Brad Pitt like cannibal star athletes, then you’re in for a real eye opener… a real eye-gauging opener. Whatever your knowledge is of zombie culture, Doc of the Dead offers a lively view of this deadly subject and is sure to fascinate shambling corpses and living flesh bags alike.
It traces the evolution of the living dead all the way back to its true beginning. The idea of the zombie was popularized in western culture from misinterpreted rumours about a religion that brought people back from the dead. No, we’re not talking about Jesus, we’re talking about voodoo zombification (which is actually the subject of a tragically underappreciated Wes Craven film, The Serpent and the Rainbow). The story accelerates from there marking the mega influence of Romero’s Dead trilogy along with some other classic contemporaries like Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead and Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. The illustrious list of interviewees include genre favourites like Romero himself, Stuart Gordon, Bruce Campbell, Simon Pegg, Robert Kirkman, Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero, and even Toronto’s own zombie walk organizer, Thea Munster.
Doc of the Dead suggests there’s something at work behind the fake blood and latex, something dark and in need of expression.
The film not only serves as a great overview of zombie history, but also a delving analysis that unearths (tired of all this word play yet?) the universal themes that keep our interest in the walking dead alive… but still dead. It offers an insightful discussion of the “why” question. Why are people so enthralled by the living dead? Or, more interestingly, why do living people dress up as dead people to walk around and moan for more brains? Doc of the Dead suggests there’s something at work behind the fake blood and latex, something dark and in need of expression. It could be that the expression is unique to each individual, or even each decade as suggested by the stark contrast of Romero’s Dead trilogy where each film uses zombies to express different social anxieties. However, even with the disparity of each person’s own fears, there’s no denying that the most dominant fear being expressed must be death itself.
And doesn’t it seem fitting? Today’s world is desperately obsessed with life. We plaster the evidence of our existence through as many social platforms as we can. We take copious photos of ourselves, more than any other generation, to preserve our youthful moments as if we could live in them forever. What are we trying to prove, what are we reaching for? Immortality? Death has literally been buried alive in the filthy dirt of our proverbial backyard, which we then hastily covered with flowers. If no one ever talks openly about death, then of course it’s going to resurface eventually. There’s no escaping it, much like zombies themselves.
“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”
Whatever your knowledge is of zombie culture, Doc of the Dead offers a lively view of this deadly subject and is sure to fascinate shambling corpses and living flesh bags alike.