Whether you love or hate George Romero and his films, there’s no denying that without his zombie movies there wouldn’t be the zombie culture we know today. Surely we might have two or three zombie movies concerning the sleepy servants of voodoo masters, but we wouldn’t have the flesh eating hordes that are currently consuming pop culture and the world as we know it. There’s also a very good interview where filmmaker Alex Cox notes that were it not for “Night of the Living Dead” becoming public domain, there likely would not have been inspiration for filmmakers to offer their own zombie entertainment for horror fans.
There is definitely a zombie invasion and “Doc of the Dead” explores how and why the zombie invasion has taken over almost every facet of media. Most of it can be traced back to the times we live in where the world watches as civilization crumbles slowly and are now somewhat learning how to confront and cope with death through stories about the walking dead. Or perhaps it’s just because deep down we’re celebrating uniformity by celebrating what makes zombies so unique and interesting. Whether or not you subscribe to one idea or another, “Doc of the Dead” definitely touches upon why society is in love with the zombie story. So much so that we’ve all become convinced that a zombie apocalypse is on the horizon.
Tom Savini is quick to mock the entire idea, of course, while other horror masters roll their eyes and dismiss it with a loving chuckle. The most outspoken among the group of interviews is horror king Gregory Nicotero, who discusses everything he loves and hates about the sub-genre. He bashes running zombies, explores why shambling zombies are so terrifying, and derides a lot of pop culture’s attempts to re-invent the zombie as a romantic figure. “Doc of the Dead” for all its excellence, sadly won’t be much of a surprise for folks well versed in horror and horror history. Pretty much all of what’s discussed here has been reiterated a dozen times in many documentaries. There’s Romero discussing the origins of his film, and the (once controversial) idea of Ben being the hero in his movie, et al.
There’s also the origin of the word “zombie,” and how zombies were originally perceived before Romero rebooted the concept. There’s an expected segment on Robert Kirkman and how he managed to sell “The Walking Dead” to Image Comics with trickery. Pretty much all of the information is old hat to experienced horror buffs, but will surely pose as a great crash course in the zombie sub-genre for younger horror fans that want to know the basics, and which titles to look for, for the best in zombie pop culture. It also helps that much of the interviews are entertaining, while the hilarious comedy segments from Red Letter Media really help to satirize the zombie film, while also paying tribute to it. “Doc of the Dead” is a fantastic love letter and insightful examination of the zombie take over in society and pop culture, and will whet the appetites of zombie aficionado.