Friday, April 25, 2014

Need more zombies in your life? Check out Doc of the Dead

The 1932 film White Zombie introduced the zombie to popular culture. While going through different waves of popularity since then, fittingly, the phenomenon couldn't remain dead.

Zombies have never been more popular than they are today. The Walking Dead is the most popular show on cable television and there are zombie walks, zombie runs, zombie weddings, zombie obstacle courses, zombie conventions, zombie commercials, zombie video games and more being lapped up like brains by a ravenous public. Hell, an international zombie strategy was even discussed in the Canadian House of Commons last year.

Doc of the Dead, an 82-minute documentary directed by American Alexandre Philippe, examines the rise of the zombie through interviews with the likes of the head of the Zombie Research Society, zombie authors and scholars, scientists, the Toronto zombie walk founder and even a sex therapist. Zombie film and television show actors, actresses, directors and producers -- most notably Shaun of the Dead star Simon Pegg and genre king George Romero -- also talk about the phenomenon. Some even share their zombie survival strategies and engage in the slow versus fast zombies debate.

There are clips of director Romero's classic films -- Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985) and Land of the Dead (2005) -- as well as discussions of them. But we also see and hear about other zombie and zombie-related movies, including I Walked With A Zombie (1943), Invisible Invaders (1959), my longtime favourite Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), Return of the Living Dead (1985), Re-Animator (1985), Dead Alive (1992), Army of Darkness (1992), 28 Days Later (2002), Resident Evil (2002), Shaun of the Dead (2004), The Infected (2009), Contagion (2011) and World War Z (2013).

You don't have to have worn tattered clothes, covered yourself in goop and makeup and shuffled awkwardly down the street (which is something Romero says he can't see the pleasure in), or even visited Haiti (where turning people into zombies is part of the criminal code) to appreciate Doc of the Dead.

Zombies have seeped into pop culture so much that you can't escape them, no matter how slow they may lumber along. So while there's no need to hoard supplies or build a bunker to ward off a zombie apocalypse, there may be a desire to be mildly entertained while learning more about why the phenomenon has become so widespread. Doc of the Dead can provide that.

Watch the Doc of the Dead trailer

Doc of the Dead will make its international premiere and be screened in Toronto as part of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival at: 11:59 p.m. on April 26 at Bloor Hot Docs Theatre; 9:30 p.m. on April 27 at Hart House Theatre; and 9:45 p.m. on May 3 at The Royal Cinema.

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