Diary of the Dead (2007)
By: J.R. McNamara on June 23, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Dimension Extreme (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. English, Spanish subtitles. 96 Minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: George A. Romero
Starring: Joshua Close, Scott Wentworth, Michelle Morgan, Joe Dinicol
Screenplay: George A. Romero
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
When you talk about horror movies, several directors' names will always pop up: Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, Lucio Fulci and of course, the inventor of the modern zombie film, the legend of the living dead, the Godfather of ghouls, George A. Romero.

The horror general public gets excited whenever a new Romero Dead flick is announced...and why? Well watching a zombie flick by the master is like being present when Picasso paints a masterpiece, and Diary of the Dead is no exception. After cool looking, whiz-bang remakes of Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, not to mention the disastrous Day of the Dead 2: Contagion, it is nice to see the dead being handled byRomero again, and Romeroreturning to his roots: low budget filmmaking. Even though I am a fan of Land of the Dead, it sure is more fun when Romero has a tight budget, which he does here!

Diary of the Dead was originally conceived as a TV series, which may be the reason for Romero's withdrawal from the Masters of Horror show, but instead has emerged as a kick ass entry not only into the Dead series, but also into the first person point-of-view cinema verite form of filmmaking. I am no fan of this type of filmmaking in general, and feel that films like The Blair Witch Project use the first-person POV as a replacement for quality acting and characterization.

Romero's film is different from this.

Romero has used the POV idea, but expanded upon it. Two of the characters end up with video cameras, and CCTV footage from various locations is incorporated into the storyline, which, as we are told by the character of Debra, she has edited together with a laptop, and incorporated music for the purpose of scaring the viewer, so the document can remain as a warning to those who discount the threat of the Living Dead!

Diary of the Dead takes place on the original night of the living dead: when the whole "zombie apocalypse" starts! A group of college filmmakers are in the woods filming a "Mummy" movie when they hear news reports of the dead rising, and eating the living. Of course their first thought is disbelief, but that turns to despair, and then to horror as they realize their world is being destroyed around them by a plague they have no real fight against. Filmmaking major Jason Creed (Joshua Close), much to the chagrin of his friends, decides to document the entire disaster on his video camera, and as noted earlier, we are able to watch via the editing skills of girlfriend, Debra (Michelle Morgan) who wishes to tell the truth of what is going on around them. Who survives? Well, watch and find out!

This film is great, and fits in with the rest of the dead mythos almost seamlessly! One must try to believe that the original Night of the Living Dead takes place at the same time as this footage, and I guess if you believe the original cast was in an old farmhouse that maybe didn't have any of your mod-cons, and then just maybe the illusion is COMPLETELY seamless!

The gore is classic Romero, with some nice CGI surprises thrown in for good measure, and the zombie make-ups are top shelf, which is to be expected considering they have been overseen by Greg Nicotero. Also keep an eye, and an ear, out for a guest appearance by Nicotero, and others, including Romero himself. The performance of the cast, and for that matter the camera operator, are all pretty good and do give a sense of really being there.

The only real fault I find with this pic is that sometimes, for the sake of a thrill, the POV diary element seems to be ignored, for instance a scene in the hospital where a zombie pushes past the camera wielder to attack the person in front of him, but for how thrilling the movie for the most part is, it is all forgivable.
Video
A great clear image presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. I must point out though, that there are some elements of video snow but they are deliberate to add to the elements of the actual video camera used by the characters.
Audio
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds great!! Again, any audio imperfections are deliberate.
Extra Features
The disc actually opens with trailers for the Night of the Living Dead 40th Anniversary, Storm Warning, The Mist and Teeth.

As for the actual extras, they are really impressive!

First there is a feature length commentary with Romero himself, Director of Photography Adam Swica and Editor Michael Doherty. It's a nice animated commentary with interesting behind-the-scenes stuff that added to my enjoyment of the film.

There are "Character Confessionals" where several of the characters, including Eliot, Tracy, Tony and Debra, are asked by the "filmmaker" Jason to talk about what they believe is going on around them, and are done like the diary entries in the TV show Big Brother. Each new confessional takes place further on in the film and you can see the mental degradation as the hopelessness of the situation plays on each character's mind... nicely acted too, I might add.

The First Week is some behind the scene footage with independent filmmaker Michael Felsher of the first week of shooting. I am sure this could have been a quite interesting piece, but it is delivered flippantly and at 4 minutes and 20 seconds long it is far too short to really have any substance.

The Roots has George Romero explaining his decision to reboot his series. As if George Romero needs to justify any film he makes!

Familiar Voices reveals the famous voices that play some of the radio announcers that play in the background of the film. It would be remiss of me to reveal who they are here, but their takes are played here unedited. I shall give some hints though: one is a bull who has an issue with giant cockroaches, the next seems to think undead films should be funny and the third is one of George's maine supporters.

For The Record is basically the making of Diary of the Dead and is divided into 5 parts: Master of the Dead Writer/ Director George Romero, Into the Camera: The Cast, You Look Dead!: Make Up Effects, A New Spin on Death: Visual Effects and A World Gone Mad: Photography and Design. This is a real thorough look at the entire production, and covers pretty much every aspect of the production, from costume design to SPFX to lighting to direction.

MySpace Winners has the winners of the home-made zombie film competition that was run through the Diary of the Dead MySpace page. These of course range from depressing apocalyptic visions to comedic takes and even one with Teller from Penn and Teller in it.
The Verdict
Another Romero, more zombies, a happy reviewer. That's 3 out of 3! I sincerely hope George Romero had as much fun making this movie as I did watching it.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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