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article imageReview: ‘Doc of the Dead’ rises to the occasion Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 25, 2014 in Entertainment
‘Doc of the Dead’ explores zombie culture through interviews with some of the movement’s most notable contributors and fans.
The zombie has experienced various levels of popularity since George A. Romero thrust the creatures into the center of popular culture in the 60s. But the current resurgence is like nothing ever seen before. Everyday life has been fully infested by the undead. People that are not even fans of the horror genre are clamouring to consume the next zombie-inspired product, regardless of its form. Doc of the Dead traces the zombie's history and progression to explain the present day phenomenon, which ironically shows no hint of relenting.
To be given the stamp of approval by hard core, pre-Walking Dead zombie fans, the film needed to include certain elements. First, a history of the undead is required to start with the beginning of cinema, somnambulists and voodoo. It must contain a discussion regarding the infected vs. the undead and the ultimate debate of fast vs. slow zombies. Interviewees must include obvious experts such as the monster's godfather (Romero), Max Brooks and Robert Kirkman, as well as the physical creators for the screen including Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini. This list is padded by writer/director/actor of Shaun of the Dead Simon Pegg, actors from Night of the Living Dead (1968), an entomologist consulted for the World War Z film, an academic studying zombies, the creator of UK’s Zed Events and a variety of other characters contributing to the latest wave of undead culture.
A scene from  Doc of the Dead
A scene from 'Doc of the Dead'
Hot Docs
This documentary is probably one of the most thorough examinations of the zombie, which is actually a more complex entity than some may give it credit. Its origins can be traced back to real incidences of zombified humans in Africa. It's the perfect being through which to express political commentary and genuine anxieties about the world because people feel less threatened by a movie monster than an imitation of a lifelike attack; but their human appearance gives the observations weight.
It's not that director Alexandre O. Philippe has introduced new information about the creatures, but that he's compiled it into an entertaining and accessible film. The discussions are conversational with one topic logically leading to another like a train of thought rather than dividing it into defined sections. Though there is very little gore displayed on screen, it still avoids sterilizing the subject by making it too neat. Zombies run the gambit of fun, disgusting, romantic, terrifying, human and inhuman with every new adopter of the genre putting their twist on the lore, and this documentary is an excellent exploration of that ever-evolving trend.
Doc of the Dead is screening in the ‘Nightvison’ programme at the Hot Docs Film Festival.
Director: Alexandre O. Philippe
More about Doc of the Dead, Alexandre O Philippe, Hot Docs Film Festival, Documentary, Zombies
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