George A. Romero
George A. Romero
Joshua Close as Jason
Scott Wentworth as Andrew Maxwell
Michelle Morgan as Debra
In 1968, George A. Romero released a completely independent horror film entitled Night of the Living Dead. In doing that, Mr. Romero changed the face of horror and created the zombie sub-genre as it stands today. Forty years later, after showing us an increasingly deteriorating world in his other Dead films, Romero returns to the beginning. He returns to when it all started. He returns to his roots.
Diary of the Dead is actually a documentary entitled “The Death of Death” that has been put together by Debra (Michelle Morgan) using film taken mainly from her boyfriend Jason (Joshua Close) and from other sources such as security camera feeds and news reels. “The Death of Death” shows us a group of college students who are also amateur film makers that are filming a horror movie in the woods when the news come across that the recently deceased are getting up and walking around. A piece of dialogue says it all: “People aren’t waking up dead, the dead are waking up.”
The students, along with one of their professors, Mr. Maxwell (Scott Wentworth), get in their Winnebago and head for each others homes to make sure that there loved ones are alright. The drive becomes a maturing experience for all involved as they attempt to discover the truth about what is going on around them.
At the same time, Debra and Jason’s relationship is falling apart because Jason is adamant about filming everything that is happening and Debra, along with a few others, are finding it hard to understand his motives. It is not until the end that Debra finally puts it all together and helps Jason finish the project.
I will begin my observations about Diary of the Dead by going out on a limb and telling you that George A. Romero is a freakin’ genius. When he is left alone to do his thing, Romero can do no wrong. I personally can find nofault in Diary of the Dead. It is the epitome of perfection. Every time he films a zombie movie I cannot help but laugh at the inferiority of all others that have tried to emulate him. Ha. Romero took a filming style that has been used very well in films such as The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield and made it even better. Ha, ha. Did I mention that Romero can do no wrong? Anyway.
The cast of relatively unknowns, although most have had some acting experience in television or the stage, are flawless. They act just how a scared bunch of college students would act under similar conditions. Each one faces the tragedy in their own unique way while attempting to go through it together.
The gore is top notch from the beginning to the end. From eyes blowing out to acid eating into a human head in front of your eyes Diary of the Dead has something for everybody. Have I mentioned yet that Romero is a freakin’ genius yet? Anyway.
I highly recommend Diary of the Dead to any fan of horror, not just zombies, because in going back to the beginning Mr. Romero has accomplished what very few writer/directors have an opportunity to accomplish. Romero put the Independent Horror Film industry on notice with Night of the Living Dead and 40 years later, in my humble opinion, Romero has again raised the bar for other independent film makers to attempt to reach. Ha, ha, and ha.