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“Diary of the Dead”
Taylor Carlson
Studio: The Weinstein Comapany
Genre: Horror
Special Features: Commentary with Romero Swica and Doherty, Character Confessionals, For The Record making-of featurette, My Space video contest winners

Diary of the Dead is directed by George Romero and stars Michelle Morgan, Scott Wentworth, Josh Close, Joe Dinicol, Amy Lalonde, and Shawn Roberts. ***

Diary of the Dead is the latest in a seemingly never-ending line of zombie films from George Romero, who has been making them since his breakthrough hit, 1968's Night of the Living Dead. In this latest film, we follow the lives of film students out to make their own horror movie - but things for them change drastically when real-life zombies appear to terrorize them. ***

Diary of the Dead is bogged down in a ton of issues - a cheesy approach, wooden acting, a plot that has been done to death (often by Romero himself), a “documentary filmmaking” gimmick that has been beaten to death lately, and the same old zombies we've seen since the dawn of filmmaking. And yet, for some ungodly reason I can't quite describe, I was entertained. ***

I'll just come right out and say it - this movie is a guilty pleasure. The good majority of my mind craves intelligent, thought-provoking cinema with substance to it. But in the deeper recesses of my mind, there's that one little area that craves the cheesy and the campy. I can't remember the last time that area of my mind was as thoroughly entertained as it was when I was watching Diary of the Dead. Yes, this movie is laughably bad. But it's, in the simplest terms possible, an entertaining bad movie. ***

Diary of the Dead isn't for everyone, but if it's fun, mindless zombie stuff you live to watch, you've found your movie. Just don't come in here expecting Oscar-worthy material - Mr. Romero has never been that kind of filmmaker. ---

Image And Sound:

As Diary of the Dead was shot largely from handheld cameras, the image quality falls short of what you'd expect from your average modern-day movie. There's plenty of grain and other blemishes throughout the movie in various spots, but considering these filmmaking techniques George Romero employed here, it's to be expected. You'll wish a little more had been done to clean things up, but the image quality is still far from bad. Sound quality fares similarly, it shows the limitations of the source material but it's still audible and not flawed to the point that the film is not viewable. ---

Special Features:

We get a few minor featurettes on the disc, though nothing really noteworthy or relevant. Romero teams up with a few members of his cast and crew for a feature-length commentary track. It's always interesting to listen to what Romero has to say about his movies, and his words about his latest exploit are no exception. It's definitely the most interesting extra the disc features. The “for the record” making-of featurette covers a lot of the same material discussed in the commentary, but delves deeper into Romero and his filmmaking process. Once again he's interesting to listen to, and it's fun to have his cast and crew add their own two cents to the footage as well. The My Space contest winners extra features shorts that were selected by Romero himself prior to the DVD release, which were entered via the Internet in an effort to be included on the DVD. These are the entries he has chosen, and while they aren't without their charm, you'll wish there were other film-relevant extras on the disc. Lastly are the character confessionals, which are rather brief in-character conversations. While fun to watch they'll leave you wanting more. Ultimately, these are fun featurettes, but there just aren't enough on them on the disc. ---

Final Words:

Diary of the Dead isn't a great movie, nor does it make any claims to be. It's good, mindless, cheesy zombie-oriented fun as only Mr. Romero could provide. It's no masterpiece, but it's got “guilty pleasure” written all over it.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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