Monday, February 25, 2008

shoot the dead.

Diary Of The Dead (2007)
Dir: George A Romero.
Cast: Shawn Roberts, Joshua Close, Michelle Morgan, Joe Dinicol, Phillip Riccio, Scott Wentworth, Megan Park, Chris Violette, Amy Ciupak Lalonde and Tatiana Maslany.

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"For you, if it's not on film it never happened."


Busy filming a student horror movie in the woods, wannabe documentary maker Jason Creed (Close) and his crew are surprised to here a news report stating that the bodies of the recently dead are returning to life and attacking the living.

Not too surprisingly the group of film makers are kinda freak out by these turn of events, Ridley rich-boy (Riccio) is the first to jump ship, inviting the (understandably) freaked out band to hide out at his families fortified mansion before speeding off with the toothy Francine (Park) in tow.

Jason decides to head back to the college to get his girlfriend Debra (Morgan) before heading cross country in a beat up Winnebago alongside his crew - brooding Tony (Roberts), spec-head Eliot (Dinicol), Texan tottie Tracy (Lalonde), her hunky beau Gordo, jittery wallflower Mary (Maslany) and the permanently pissed lecturer Maxwell (Wentworth) - under the auspice of heading home, documenting the journey (pretentiously titled The Death of Death) along the way.

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Bruiser: "You ain't seen me, right?"




After the wilderness years that covered most of the 90's and the first half of the noughties it seemed that genre god Romero would have trouble getting even his holiday snaps developed at the local chemist let alone a film deal (2000's Bruiser is still unreleased in the States and most of Europe). So it was with some surprise (and much excitement) when it was announced that he would begin work on a big budget (for him) continuation of his 'Dead Saga', Land Of The Dead for Universal Pictures and, although the movie was only a moderate hit Stateside (and split Romero fandom; some feeling it was a 'stopgap' movie somehow compromised by the studio system) it seemed, if nothing else to rekindle Romero's creative edge, drive and love for the genre he single handedly created 40 years ago.

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"Snyder yer gettin' it!": The big binned
'un on the set of Land.




Personally I find it way too hard to be critical of 'Land' and whilst I admit it never reaches the heights of Dawn of The Dead or Day of The Dead it does feature some uniquely Romero moments and it has to be said, an 'adequate' Romero movie still stands head and shoulders over most horror movies being churned out of Hollywood today (and did something to remove the taste of the cinematic stillbirth that was Zac Snyders Dawn remake).

So what of this latest chapter in the masters 'Dead Saga'?

Well, if someone had of said to me that at the age of 67, Romero would be running around in the cold Canadian wilderness, armed only with a hand held camera, coffee and fags making a low budget return visit to the original night it all started to give us a new slant on the zombie uprising I'd have thought they'd gone mad (and would have at least emailed Georges missis to check he hadn't been drinking) but bloody hell, the old fella has still got it.

Although sold as a 'stand alone' movie, Diary is still as much a part of Romero's ongoing vision of the zombie uprising as it's predecessors, taking as it does the premise and ideas forged in Night of The Living Dead mixed with his patented blend of social satire, real world interpersonal politics and heady violence.

Add to this a critical view of how the media can shape, inform and eventually alter our perspective of shared events as well as posing the question of can any reportage be truly unbiased.

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Don't mess with Texas.


Romero's ongoing fascination with the breakdown of society and the media's handling of such an event is given a unique spin by the way that today any information, no matter how trivial can be so instantly disseminated to the entire world via the internet, a far cry from the ramshackle news reports of Dawn of The Dead but eerily similar to the 'If it's not on TV it's not really happening' attitude of the original Night and, by making the films main protagonist the camera lens- we see only what it sees -Romero makes us a complicit part of the unfolding story.

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What's more horrific: the recently dead returning
to life or the recently dead returning
to life wearing that jumper?



The (mostly) unknown cast is uniformly fantastic and a return to the 'real people in unreal situations' of Romero's earlier works. Michelle Morgan excels as Debra, torn between dealing with her boyfriends overwhelming obsession to complete his documentary and her own over-riding need to be with her family whilst Scott Wentworth's film professor is a deadpan joy to watch. But it has to be said tho' that no matter how great this little ensemble cast is, the true star of the movie (and possibly the whole saga) has to be Samuel the Old Amish man....NECA release an action figure of this guy now!



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"Put it in me!"


What else can I say? Diary of The Dead is the cleverest, scariest and downright entertaining horror movie to come out of America (or Canada) since Romero's own Day of The Dead in 1985. And it truly has something for everyone.

If you don't go see this (or more importantly don't like it) then there is really no hope for you.

Utter perfection on celluloid.

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