Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead: Zombie Footnotes

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Let’s get this out of the way quickly: George Romero’s diary of the dead and survivor in death Not a very good movie. The last two films in the zombie auteur’s decades-long, on-again, off-again franchise chronicling the rise and aftermath of the zombie apocalypse are largely seen as once-great characters in different cinematic settings and in different movie roles. The inferior work in the series was ignored. It’s hard to refute —journal and Survive Overall a shoddy, bland film that lacked the formal rigor, wry humor, scathing commentary and corrosive horror that made previous entries so iconic. night of the living dead, dawn of the dead and day of the dead both wonderfully convey horror in their own way, even a 2005 production with the financial backing of a major studio, place of deathEach has its own merits worthy of reevaluation. journal and Survive It’s hard to defend against.

But I don’t want to blindly belittle a legendary filmmaker who made a few duds. Romero’s name is inscribed on the Stone of Terror, a permanent fixture of the genre and central to the way we understand the zombie subgenre. Who could blame him for making some stink? That said, it’s interesting to ponder what exactly Romero’s goals are for these films, since they contain stray marks of his astute, idiosyncratic approach to the genre that get muddled by the actual films.what romero wants to do journal and survivor in death?

you may know diary of the dead Endeavor as Romero’s discovery shot.Following the global backing, a wide range of land, Romero wants to go back “Another little guerrilla movie” See if he still has it. He also wanted to make a film about “emerging media” and thought the idea of ​​a subjective camera was something new he could try.properly photographed journal Happened in 2006, the year before the discovery of the material staple paranormal phenomenon and Cloverfield– the film that helped the subgenre explode in popularity – went into production, though the latter managed to beat Romero’s film for release. None of these films were the first to find footage, but coincided with a sudden exuberance and familiarity in the format’s cultural consciousness.

Romero going back and making a DIY zombie movie for the 21st century isn’t an unattractive idea in terms of giving the director a “back to basics” moment, even if diary of the dead Indeed, he failed his ambitions.The story is told in a documentary produced by Debra (Michelle Morgan), who was part of a group of college film students who, when the carnivorous pandemic began (ostensibly with night, although these newer films are generally understood to be part of a separate vision for the pandemic). They’re in the woods at night as they struggle to combine their visions to make their own low-budget horror movie with a bit of a metatext wink. It only takes a few minutes to start hearing reports of civil unrest and strange phenomena happening across the country, and minutes before they encounter shambling undead.

As the team travels from area to area in search of safe haven, inevitably encountering more of those pesky zombies, the sequence of events from there is largely nonsensical and monotonous. The idea of ​​Romero returning to the small scale for these films sounds good in theory, but in practice it looks a bit cheap.limited budget night Overshadowed by evocative and expressionistic black-and-white photography, while dawn and sky Horror makeup legend Tom Savini brings color to the collection with a clear sense of social commentary and gritty gore. by comparison, journal Between the flat digital photography, digital blood, and tense performances it feels watered down and lacks a strong sense of emotion — though it does occasionally have eyes popping out of its head and suicides with scythes, which is fair.

But there’s something to Romero’s whole “emerging media” angle. In that light, it’s not just a format he finds himself experimenting with. Subjective perspectives and low-price aesthetics suddenly present a new context for what it’s like for anyone to film anything and show it at any time, an idea that pops up sporadically throughout. As always, Romero ends up being uncannily prescient about the coming age of YouTube’s use of violence and tragedy for content creation, while continually questioning and interrogating notions of truth in media and what it means to show something on camera.

journal Overcome the implicit question in the “Why are they still filming?” discovery shot. Bring down Jason (Joshua Close), Debra’s boyfriend, in charge of the camera. Throughout, he insisted to his reluctant friends that he had to keep filming so he could document an event that would become an important piece of history. His reasoning seems benevolent, but gradually reveals a deadly obsession. By the end of the film, Jason is repeatedly told to back off from his relentless shoot, neglecting to help one of his companions from a zombie attack in order to capture the event, and causing his own death when he refuses to join. The remaining group hid indefinitely in a bunker. He was bitten almost immediately and shot by Debra to avoid deformation, after which she took the camera and sealed everyone in the panic room. The documentary in the movie ends with some footage from Jason of the country hunters having fun using their former human companions for target practice, as Debra questions whether humans are worth saving.

The final beat was delivered by Romero in a more witty way in the previous game dead Entry – Final moments echo a more devastating ending night— but it finds the director extending his thesis into the modern world. Debra’s musings are both an indictment of a world rapidly descending into senseless violence and of the manic urge to take everything at the expense of shared decency. Even today, 16 years later, in a world that has only further embraced this obsession, it still feels relevant.It allows journal to fit within the larger context of Romero’s cinematic trajectory and concerns in his social commentary. The film falls short, but its intentions are sound.

survivor in death is an even stranger beast. Released in a handful of theaters in 2009, otherwise straight to VOD, the cost of this film is journal And it looks twice as cheap. No pretend-to-find footage to help explain the shabby aesthetic, Survive Visually lacking basic cinematic quality, the fact that A whole bunch of other flaws carried over from the previous film.

It sees Romero trying to string more connective tissue between films, perhaps hinting at a broader vision of where his franchise might go in the future.It follows a group of National Guard soldiers, led by Sergeant Crockett (Alan Van Sprang), who appear briefly in journal When they lift up and rob the main character of that movie. Here, through a series of clumsy narrative twists, they find themselves in the midst of a minor civil war between two Irish families, the O’Flynns and Muldoons, on Plum Island off the Delaware coast. Of course, their conflict has to do with the zombies, as the former family tries to eradicate any trace of the undead left on the island, while the latter wants to keep them alive until a cure is found, and possibly train them to feed on non-human flesh.

survivor in death Totally ridiculous, but it also fits right into a typical Romero moral dilemma, questioning our own condition of humanity. Here, it’s delivered through a story that allows him to play with imagery and mood outside of horror mode. Through its widescreen framing, periodic bright shots of natural island landscapes and a shootout between two vengeful families, survivor in death Has a distinctly western feel.In fact, he once said that his film was Inspired by William Wyler’s 1958 Western big country, another film about the violence between two feuding families. Not only that, but Romero wanted to make a film about “war or undead entities; conflicts, divisions that people can’t resolve, whether it’s Ireland, the Middle East, or the Senate.”

Romero has discussed similar topics before and before journal Never committed to a satisfying genre identity, but seeing it as an interesting experiment helps the final product go down easier.Kenneth Walsh as the head of the O’Flynns, with a fake Irish accent to cover it all up, a ludicrous twin sibling hidden in the plot, and ends with a startlingly stupid The final shot ends in which the resurrected corpses of two family patriarchs pull their guns again in front of a man depressionsize of the moon.very much like journalIt’s not the most elegant way for Romero to convey his themes, but it shows that the director still needs an outlet for his feelings about a world that in some ways hasn’t changed much since 1968.but Survive Should be more interesting, its bizarre merging of story beats and tones is canceled out by being played too directly in a way that makes it dull and redundant.

survivor in death It was the last film Romero directed before dying of lung cancer at the age of 77 in 2017, though it was by no means his final take on the zombie genre.He was in one last session with co-author Paolo Zelati before he died dead movie, one more like a pair of place of death. it’s known dusk of the deadit is Most recent report for 2021 With the help of Romero’s widow, Suzanne, progress is being made to bring the idea to life. The danger of such a project acting like a pale imitation of previous work is obvious, but if it means seeing the final destination of the zombie outbreak he started 55 years ago, even a posthumous work based on Romero’s ideas Movies sound appealing too. journal and survivor in death Possibly contributing little to the general trajectory of Romero’s apocalyptic analysis of society, but they stand on their own, containing the small adventures of a filmmaker who’s already crafted several masterpieces. They are attached to more important works, but even as two footnotes, they add to our understanding of what Romero had in mind when it came to zombies and America.

For now, Romero’s legacy feels similar to John Carpenter’s: a revered 20th-century horror filmmaker who just can’t seem to keep up with the turn of the millennium. Also like Carpenter, Romero’s massive reach covered any late-career missteps. journal and survivor in death It was a failed, revealing experiment — but that’s all, and Romero’s name isn’t honored for them.


Trace Sauveur is an Austin, Texas-based writer who writes primarily for The Austin Chronicle. He loves David Lynch, John Carpenter, the Fast and the Furious movies, and all the bands he listened to in high school.he is @tracesauveur On Twitter, you can let his thoughts pollute your feed.



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