Zombies are some of the most divisive creatures in the horror genre. They’ve become such a big entity, the zombie film has grown into a genre all its own complete with multiple variations, multiple looks, and multiple medias. Their influence has spread through all sorts of movies, books, comics, videogames, and even television.
Doc of the Dead seeks to document the story of the zombie genre from beginning to its undead end. Does it succeed in all the right areas? Somewhat, yes.
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Doc of the Dead
Director: Alexandre O. Phillipe
Release Date: March 15, 2014 (EPIX channel)
Doc of the Dead is a documentary, directed by Alexander O. Phillipe and contains interviews from all of the zombie bigwigs (George Romero, Tom Savini, Bruce Campbell, Simon Pegg, and so on). It details the evolution of zombie fandom from the birth of the genre and brings it to the present day. If you’ve never seen a zombie movie, then you’re in for quite a treat as there’s plenty of information for your brain to devour. If you’re heavily invested in zombies, and know a lot about them already, unfortunately you won’t benefit as much from the information presented here. But then again, if you’re in the latter camp, Doc of the Dead isn’t quite right for you.
While Doc of the Dead is more of an “outsider looking in” type of documentary, it’s still a film for the fans by the fans. It’s a celebration of the genre and sort of dissects the deeper ideals creeping around. There’s the separation between fact and fiction, the aspect of the collective mind, whether or not a zombie apocalypse could actually take place, and the major businesses that have sprung up to capitalize on the zombie mania. That’s actually the most interesting aspect of the documentary. When Doc of the Dead begins exploring the people who seek to take advantage of the poor chaps who’re so enamored with “survival,” it hits a high point. There’s a dark side to zombie fandom, the fact that it’s so easily bent toward things. But unfortunately these smaller philosophical quandaries aren’t fully explored as we sort of zip from one subject to the other.
There are scientific and psychological discussions for the spread of zombie mania, but it never quite dissects the philosophical nature of them. There’s no true answer or debate as to why people enjoy them so much. Is it because of an innate fear of death and dressing like a zombie helps keep that fear at bay? Do folks enjoy zombies because everyone secretly holds a desire to be accepted by everyone? Or are people more drawn to the idea of becoming one of the last survivors and “fighting back” because of our intrinsic desire for brutality? Doc of the Dead left me with more questions than answers.
But for those who are even slightly interested in zombies and why the idea of them has become so prevalent, Doc of the Dead is the perfect documentary for you.