Sunday 22 June 2014

Doc of the Dead

As an introduction to the zombie film this documentary is a disappointment. There are two major reasons for this.

First, while the inaugural zombie film, White Zombie (1932) is referenced, the history presented is very much from Night of the Living Dead (1968) onwards. Certainly, George A. Romero’s film inaugurated a paradigm shift in the nature of the zombie, from labourer-producer to flesh eater consumer, but this point could have been made clearer by referencing, for example, Plague of the Zombies (1966) as a point of contrast.

Second, all the films mentioned – others include Return of the Living Dead (1985), Shaun of the Dead (2003), and 28 Days Later (2002) – are Anglo-American. The contributions of continental European film-makers are entirely absent. This is a problem when you remember that Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) was a co-production with Dario Argento and that the film’s success at the Italian box-office led to several tribute productions. Two of particular note here are Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1979), for its fusion of old school voodoo zombie and new school flesh-eater, and Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare City (1980), for featuring running zombies more than 20 years before 28 Days Later or the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004).

With the film running only 82 minutes and feeling padded out even these these omissions are all the more striking.

And, finally, if you are going to feature Joanna Angel talking about her zombie-porn crossover shouldn’t you also mention that Joe D’Amato, was there first?