Doc of the Dead is a zombie study that aims for the head




Even if you’re not a huge fan of The Walking Dead, you should find Doc of the Dead—a new study of the history of zombies in film and popular culture—quite interesting. And if you’re the type who gores yourself all up and goes lurching down the road at the first tweet of a zombie flash mob, ya gotta see it.

The film opens with a clip of some Canadian politician in the House of Commons last year spending our hard-earned-tax-dollar time joking about the potential of a zombie invasion from the States turning into an all-out zombie apocalypse. The guy was no doubt trying to curry favour with voters hip to the current zombie craze, but the idea of the undead taking over the world is one that gets a lot of play in director Alexandre O. Philippe’s doc, and his assembled array of commentators—from horror-film stars to comic-book artists to survivalists—have a good time with it.

“It all starts in 1932 with White Zombie,” posits one of the many film geeks called on for their expertise. We are then guided through the evolution of the zombie film until we get to the granddaddy of ’em all, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. “It rewrote zombie lore,” asserts World War Z author Max Brooks of George Romero’s groundbreaking black-and-white shocker, which Brooks believes hit home by reflecting the prevalent fears and paranoia of the day.

Romero is the object of much praise in Doc of the Dead, and justifiably so. His decision to set 1978’s Dawn of the Dead in a shopping mall—so the zombies could represent shuffling, sheeplike consumers—is declared a stroke of genius. But the affable horror legend spreads the love around a little bit himself. “Shaun of the Dead is my favourite zombie movie—that wasn’t made by me,” he points out.

One intriguing argument laid out is that of slow zombies versus fast ones. According to makeup-FX great Tom Savini, Romero has a bumper sticker that reads “Fast Zombies Suck,” and apparently “zombie purists” like them slow. I’m not a purist, I guess, because I prefer movies like 28 Days Later and World War Z, where you can’t just casually stroll away to avoid being infected with a nasty bite.

Getting back to the zombie-apocalypse theme, Shaun star Simon Pegg ponders what to do in case of one, and decides “go north” is the best idea. I say we Canucks should act on that assumption right now and start fortifying our border before hordes of undocumented Yanks cross over in search of our tasty, maple-cured brains.

And we’ll just hope they’re not the fast ones.


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