It seems like Diary of the Dead
came out just a bit, JUST A WHIT too late to get the love it probably deserved more of. With Cloverfield
stealing the limelight theatrically with the return of the hand-held camera horror film, it’s hard to watch this one with the same level of enthusiasm. Sure, it’s no masterpiece, but it is the best George Romero
film in years. It’s also easily the third best of the series so far after the first two...that’s really enough to justify giving some of the crap acting and obvious seams in the visual effects a bit of a break. But hell, if you've read this far, you're already a horror fan and therefore an old hand at looking past those problems.
For my review of the film itself, you can go here
to see what I had to say about it after I saw it at Fantastic Fest 2007
with director George Romero
in attendance. Generally speaking I really enjoyed it but you have to understand that I was already kind of sold on this re-boot of the series right from the start...at a big film festival, director in attendance, we were only the second audience in the world to see it, my bordering on obsessive love for the undead...it may have biased my opinion slightly.
The disc has a wide screen 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, so no problems there. It actually looks better now than I thought it did when I saw it projected. Which is not always a good thing. As I mentioned previously, some of the visual effects when they tried to integrate CG effects with practical ones to get some of the more bloody stuff done, doesn’t really look 100 percent and probably should have been shaded to cover up where Romero's ideas got bigger than his budget.
The commentary is by Romero with his director of photography, Adam Swica
, and editor Michael Doherty
. As per usual I did not listen to it because I do actually have something that resembles a life to get back to. Believe it or not. Sure, this life doesn't really involve much in the way of the touch of a woman (without handing out my credit card number first) but I very much enjoy reorganizing my comic collection while my cat, Devil Dinosaur
, looks on with interest. Still, there are some extras worth checking out here.
Myspace apparently had a ‘make your own zombie movie’
contest and they present the winner and 4 runners up here for your perusal. They’re all short and are mildly amusing enough to not feel like you've wasted 2 minutes or so at a go, but the one made by Teller
(of Penn & Teller
fame) called simply…”& Teller” about his experience of the zombie apocalypse in Vegas is pure gold.
You probably can skip the “Character Confessionals”
section. It presumes that the ‘director’
of the film within the film got the characters to go into a private room at various points during the action and make private video diaries. Because, when the apocalypse is in full-bloody swing all around me, I think about recording something to put on the extras section of my film. The only thing this really illuminates is that some of these guys REALLY aren’t very good actors and that Amy Lalonde
does indeed have a rather impressive rack.
Two shorts, “The First Week”
and “The Roots”
give a brief look at everyone freaking out that they are actually making a Romero zombie picture (I would TOTALLY wet myself, but, you know, in a cool way) and Romero himself talking about what it’s like to re-boot the series from the first day of the zombiethon. No discussion about a follow-up though. Hmm. There’s also a bit called “Familiar Voices”
that essentially just gives away that Simon Pegg
, Guillermo del Toro
and Stephen King
were three of the people who you hear talking on the RV radio at different points.
The best part here is the documentary which is just long enough to tell you what you need to know without boring you with unnecessary details (unlike my review). Romero is typically funny and selfless about the production. He apparently wanted originally to do this as a TV series but somehow couldn’t sell the idea successfully to anyone. Really? I can’t help but think that a TV series would have been the ideal way to do this. I’ve been saying for years now, somebody (Hello: HBO!) needs to take a look at Robert Kirkman
’s masterful series “The Walking Dead”
that takes place in the Romero universe more or less, and make it into a show.
The main reason I ever watch the 'behind the scenes'
sections on horror dvds is to see the makeup and visual effects people get their well-deserved segments. I grew up putting together haunted houses with friends (and sometimes professionals
) and I want to know how they deliver the scares. Diary of the Dead
's documentary delivers on the goods. We get close-up bright-lit looks at all the practical and visual effects and we’re told in just the right amount of detail exactly how they pulled it off. There really are some oogy and awesome practical effects in this that had me absolutely stumped as to how they did it. I have to doff my hat to master effects man Greg Nicotero
and his team of professional sickos. I can only dream of making large groups of people want to vomit as effectively as you have here.
So is this worth your time? The movie is most certainly worth a look as long as you already consider yourself a horror fan. Others will most likely have trouble with the mostly mediocre acting and extremely visceral gore shots. The thing is though, George Romero
always has something to say and his message in Diary of the Dead
about the YouTube
generation might actually be enough substance to sway some of those who normally wouldn’t indulge in something so bloody.