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Book of the Dead:
The Complete History of Zombie Cinema
by Jamie Russell
(In Paperback from Amazon)
. "Diary of the Dead"

Zombie-wise, the rules are that if you get bitten you're a goner. First you die, then in about 2 minutes you arise undead seeking out humans for a quick bite or two. The only thing that can put you down for good is a shot in the head, to which we're treated insatiably.

The framework is that a film crew from a college is trying to make a zombie film. Directing it is Jason Creed (Joshua Close) (you remember this key character from "The Night of the Living Dead"). Suddenly, and with no special cause except that this is a zombie movie, real zombies are coming out of the woods, "revived" from former concepts. They send our film crew scrambling -- with the cameraman rolling every mile of the way. Which makes for some shaky work but also the feeling of a character in the journey. The mockumentary, and one bloody night of bites, is unleashed.

The trip is pretty much an endless stream of zombie enounters, escapes, losses, and bickering about what to do. The major plus of the entire charade is the three women (Michelle Morgan, Amy Lalonde and Tatiana Maslany) who pretty-up the landscape and the footage.

Romero, in the intervening years since his 1968 debut "Night of the Living Dead," hasn't broadened his conceptual power. There's no better storytelling skill, no improvement to dramatic structure in sight. Alien to his creative aesthetic would be anything close to "I Am Legend." Romero just sticks to the theme in its simplest formulation and, because of steady lineups at the boxoffice by loyal genre followers who ask for no more, zombie fare flows like movie blood ad nauseum. It is the sanctum of scarlet prose.

There appears to be a stab at some deeper meaning through reflective dialogue (or was it narration?) but it's anemic and in need of a transfusion. Romero's approach seems to be simply a group of kids in an unprotected environment and sudden confrontations with the relentless maniacs. Even the suggestion that our kids are trying to get home as though there're no zombies there is as false as the notion that gets the revivication hi-jinx started in the first place. It begs the question: what part haven't you seen before?

Fans who love zombies and don't ask for anything more original than what Romero has provided here and who read this will hate me for expressing my take on it. Obviously, I'm not a zombie fanatic and I can't be more positive about something I can't relate to. So, if you love and approve of Romero no matter what he turns in, you'll probably get your anger off by telling me what a bad writer I am (see form below). If you do it smartly and without being nasty and/or insulting, your comment might get published here for others to enjoy. Like, after you see the film, tell us what you liked about it.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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I have a fear of zombies. More-so i have a fear of disappointing zombie movies. What makes a disappointing zombie movie? The addition of stupidity and subtraction of intelligence from a script. From reading this review of Diary of the Dead i fear George has produced a hunk of junk and ill wait till its on DVD to be disappointed.

                                                           ~~ Anthony B. 

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Jason Creed's film crew
On a night of quick takes and more bites.

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