Movie: "Diary Of The Dead"
Year: 2008
Rated: R
Genre: Horror
Directed by: George Romero
Writing credits: George Romero

Reviewer: -RoG-
Posted: 2/20/2008

Plot: During the filming of of their own independent horror movie, some film students get caught smack dab in the middle of a real zombie outbreak and attempt to document it while simultaneously trying to survive.

Review: I saw this at the Nuart theater in L.A. recently and George Romero himself was in attendance. Pretty cool to have the zenith zombie man there and he had the most absurdly short Q&A with the audience I've ever seen. They let the audience ask Romero a whopping three questions, one of which was "Are we dead?" Believe me, I wanted to jump out of my seat and stab that idiot in the face too.

But enough about George, I'm here to talk about his latest zombie film, Diary of the Dead. Based on the plot, you'd think a lot of the movie was something along the lines of the Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield... but the camera work isn't nearly as shaky. It actually works well for all intents, but it's not enough to save the film itself.

First off, I think Romero unknowingly had one of the greatest zombie fighting characters in the history of horror movies on his hands and he didn't even realize it: a deaf Amish man who communicates by writing on a chalkboard. Our first introduction to him, he blasts some zombies with dynamite and then nonchalantly writes on his chalkboard, "I'm Samuel Hello". It's pretty much the greatest moment in the movie to be honest. I was ready to stand up and cheer because I thought the rest of the movie was going to be amazing with him in it.

Unfortunately, as I already said, Romero clearly didn't know what a perfect character he had on his hands, because shortly after, Samuel gets bit by a zombie and impales himself (and the zombie) on a scythe. Yes, Samuel knew how to kill zombies with style, but goddamnit... you can't kill off such a cool character like that right away. The only way Romero could make up for killing off Samuel at this point would be for him to make a completely separate movie about Samuel and his bucolic zombie fighting lifestyle. I'd pay top dollar to see that.

The rest of the characters I honestly couldn't care less about and most of the movie is fairly uneventful. I didn't feel like there were nearly enough zombie attacks taking place, just a lot of bickering about how we need to keep filming so any survivors in the future will know what happened! It gets old real fast.

Granted, the movie is a step in the right direction after the abysmal Land of the Dead, but that's not saying a lot. I honestly think it's a simple matter of Romero being past his prime. Even so, I'm glad he's still plugging away and I believe he still has a great zombie flick (or two) left in him.

For example, it's a FAR better movie than the upcoming Day Of The Dead release, which isn't really a remake of Romero's classic, but a completely different movie that pisses on everything that's cool about zombies. Let me put it this way, Diary of the Dead may be far from a perfect horror flick, but at least it didn't have fucking Spider-Man wannabe zombies crawling on the walls and ceilings like the new Day Of The Dead movie does. If you pay money to see that movie, get off of this site right now and don't return again until you've wised up. Hell, even if you don't pay money to see that movie, get off of this site right now and don't return again until you've wised up.

As for Diary, I'd say wait 'til you can rent it unless you're really aching to kill some time in your local theater.

Overall rating: WholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

lurking on the walls
Feb 21st, 2008, 06:50 AM
day if the dead sounds like an unacceptable approach to a zombie movie, if they're going to have a "spider-man type zombie" why not do a movie on the marvel zombie comics. Diary of the dead sounds interesting, but either way, I hope that it is better than the remake of "return of the living dead" that came out afew years ago where the super zombies, were normal zombies with weapons for limbs. Nemesis from Resident evil would tear those things apart. Either way, keep up the good articles ROG.
James Brown in hiding
Feb 21st, 2008, 08:23 AM
Land of the dead was smack on with the ideas and concepts that George Romero was trying to communicate with his movies. The real tragedy is that most folks spent more time gargling over the Zombies then actually understanding what Romero was talking about in his movies. However, that being said, Diary just seemed way too fucking unessisary. Sometimes you have to let good things lie and finish off as they were.
From the Home of MST3K
Feb 21st, 2008, 08:50 AM
Just like the guy in Dead Alive who kicked ass for the Lord, unconventional zombie fighters are always the most awesome.

I want to see a montage of Samuel doing his Amish zombie fight training in an Amish zombie fighting dojo.

We need to get back to the slow-moving, ever-creeping zombies. Those were cool. Sure, you could run away from 'em. You could kill 'em easily, often in very creative and fun ways. But over time the fun always wore off, and you'd be swamped with fucking zombies everywhere. Slow as they moved, there were always just more, more more. That's why they were so fucking scary. They didn't startle you, they didn't surprise you, they just didn't stop and didn't leave you alone. That's what made 'em scary: just when you thought you were king of the fucking zombies, some slow-moving, half-rotted security guard would bite your shoulder, and you were fucked.
Fookin' up planets!
Feb 21st, 2008, 09:47 AM
I saw this with my wife and enjoyed it...
until after I got home. I started thinking about all the stuff it lacked (i.e. the zombie attacks, less bickering, etc...) and just wish Romero could do what Zack Snyder did with his re-imagining of "Dawn of the Dead".
Feb 21st, 2008, 02:31 PM
I am not a fan of Land of the Dead, but this is the man that gave us Night of the Living Dead. So I will at least give Diary... a chance.

I still remember thinking how awesome the Resident Evil movie was going to be when Romero was attached to direct it. That entire franchise could have been his baby for the 21st century....<sigh> oh well.
Built in the 80s
Feb 21st, 2008, 03:15 PM
I liked Land of the Dead. It wasn't nearly up to the quality of Dawn, Day, or Night (isn't that kind of ironic that Nght, in all it's black and white glory is better than the one with the biggest budget and arguably the best special effects?).

I'm super keen to see Diary, but i'm not expecting something as classic as Dawn or Night.
Ultimate Buzzkill
Feb 21st, 2008, 03:15 PM
Something that's always struck me as stupid in zombie movies...why does shooting them kill them? Bullets kill living people by organ trauma or blood loss. A zombie is not alive, they aren't pumping blood or using their organs. Is this more a matter of the pathological American idea that all problems can be solved with guns?

Besides, how are zombies supposed to move? Organisms not undergoing metabolic processes (i.e. living) cannot generate new adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which powers nearly all cellular reactions by releasing the energy stored in its phosphate bonds. The binding of ATP to the myosin-actin filaments of the sarcomere (the fundamental unit of muscle) allows dissociation of actin and myosin allowing contraction or relaxation. When ATP is exhausted (at death, since oxidative phosphorylation coupling to ATP synthase ceases), the actin-myosin associations in the sarcomere are unable to be broken, resulting in rigidity (rigor mortis) which lasts several hours until degeneration of the sarcomeres either by spontaneous denaturation or by bacterial decomposition occurs. But even then, there's no ATP to power further contractions--which at best would only give you paralyzed, floppy zombies.

Another thing that sucks about zombie movies now, is the bullshit attempts to explain the cause of the zombies. In the good old days, it was curses or evil magic that reanimated the dead. Now, zombies (as well as werewolves and vampires) are attributed to "viruses." This is ridiculous. Viruses do 2 things: lytic viruses (like influenza) hijack the cell's ribosomal machinery to make more copies of itself until the cell dies, and latent viruses (like herpes)insert themselves as a DNA provirus into the host cell's genome and sit tight. Sometimes they are triggered into a lytic phase by cellular stresses. Latent viruses are linked to cancer, as they insert randomly into the cell's genome, and if they insert into the middle of a tumor supressor gene, that can result in cancer. Some latent viruses produce proteins (viral oncogenes) that closely mimic enzymes involved in cell cycle regulation, but are constitutively active, inducing uncontrolled cell division and cancer. Some viral proteins bind to and inhibit tumor supressor proteins (as HPV does, which causes over 99% of all cervical cancer). However, to even attempt to believe that a virus is capable of making people immortal, altering them morphologically, or giving them super powers is absurd.
Pickled Patriarch
Feb 21st, 2008, 03:38 PM
saturnknight, actually, there is supposedly a Marvel Zombies movie being planned... let's hope they don't fuck it up.

incognit000, yeah I'm alllll about the slow moving zombies. Zombie that run, jump, crawl on walls or perform any other absurd stunts just don't work for me. That's one good thing about Romero though, he hates running zombies too and sticks with the slow, foot-dragging zombies that we've all grown to love.

Marthaeus Autolykos, I dunno man, I think you're trying to apply too much logic and reasoning to movies which, by definition, require you to suspend your disbelief and just have some stupid fun. As for killing zombies, I always understood them to be functioning on the lowest level - ie: just enough brain activity to make them move and desire to feed like an animal. And that's why you gotta shoot 'em in the head... you kill the brain, you kill the desire to feed. I do agree to some extent about the virus thing though... I always loved the classic depiction of zombies coming from voodoo, such as the Haitian zombies. The Serpent and the Rainbow handled this subject extremely well, and I recommend it to everybody.
Feb 21st, 2008, 05:02 PM
I actually enjoyed the movie. Felt like an old classic style movie, although it could have used more zombie attacks. Its very much worth checking out; not nearly as much political jabber as Land of The Dead did.
Feb 21st, 2008, 06:56 PM
Am I the only one here that hated the DAwn of the Dead remake?
Santa's Mercenary
Feb 21st, 2008, 08:36 PM
George Romero is the father of modern zombie movies but what he's really lost in his movies is the connection to the characters. in Night of the Living Dead you really connected with all the characters and wanted them to triumph over the zombies but in his later movies you just wanted the zombies to eat some brains. And by the way they should definitely make a movie of the comic Tales of The Zombie.
lurking on the walls
Feb 21st, 2008, 09:39 PM
i hope they don't mess it up either, i love my Zomby movies, the gorier they are, the better, but the last ones that came out... i won't waste my time on. "Flight of the living dead" is one such movies, i saw an article in a magazine i own, and i thought it was rediculous. You should try a review on "Wrong Turn 2". i know the movie is over the top in gore and death, and i know that it was made as a money vacume... but it has Henry Rollins, and that dude kicks ass in the movie, i didn't find it a good movie, but when you see rollins light a stick of dynamite and stuff it down the pants of a mutated red-neck hick before it blows up..... it's fricking awsome!
Crazed Techno-Biologist
Feb 21st, 2008, 10:16 PM
land of the dead and the new dawn of the dead were his perfection.
honestly, he should have stopped there and basked in the glory forever.
of course he's got bills.
poor him.
but you make a good point.
amish vas zombies.
they wouldnt know it was coming because they dont have radios or tv,
but theyd haev tons of hand tools for it.
so itd be frikken awesome.
Feb 21st, 2008, 10:59 PM
I still can't get over that "Are We Dead" question. What did George say to that? Did he laugh and humor the guy or did he bicycle kick the dude's head off like the rest of us would've? Anyway, how long has the movie been out? Do you think George will show up back here in Pittsburgh to watch it or has he done that already?
Feb 22nd, 2008, 02:22 AM
Oh, come on Rog! The new Day of the Dead remake has Nick Cannon! You know it has to be good if it has Nick Cannon!

Seriously though, directors need to stop reusing the titles of good movies to make some quick dough.
Feb 22nd, 2008, 09:11 PM
saturnknight's idea is good; instead of that "remake" just make a Marvel Zombies movie!
Maybe with Ash!
Maybe making it a GOOD one with Ash, where he wins amazingly well; like he has to in the Evil Dead thingies.
Feb 23rd, 2008, 10:46 AM
That would be great. I found that although there was some funny parts to Army of Darkness vs. Marvel ZOmbies (they actually gave ASh new dialogue instead of puking up lines from AoD!), I thought it was a lame crossover since Ash couldn't actually duke it out with any superpowered zombies. DAmn continuity, always ruining our fun!
Suicidal Chipmunk
Feb 23rd, 2008, 05:05 PM
i liked the AoD vs. Marvel Zombies comic, it was an interesting experiment, i think it worked out pretty well.

on a toattly unrelated note, -RoG-, I found the Steven Seagal Lightning Bolt energy drink at Wal-Mart. Not sure why I'm telling you, just thought you'd like to know, i've never seen it there before. I have experienced the mighty Goji Berry, and it feels good.
Forum Virgin
Feb 23rd, 2008, 09:13 PM
Saturn-Any movie that has Henry Rollins in it is worth watching. He's just that friggin' awesome. Same thing goes for Bruce Campbell. I assure you if Glenn Danzig ever chose to be in movies, he would also fit the bill for "perpetually cool".
Jason's a Furry! Run!
Jul 2nd, 2008, 05:44 PM
Really late to this one, but I liked it. The main characters were really annoying (except the professor, I liked him) and bitchy, but everyone they came into contact with were pretty sweet (especially Samuel. You're quite right, I'd definitely pay to see a movie about him). The downloaded videos from other cameras (the soldiers in the apartment, for instance; sort of a nice little throwback to the original Dawn, that's what I think) were also very cool, as they gave some interesting perspectives.

So while I liked this one and think it's a pretty decent zombie movie, it's certainly the weakest of the series (though I should point out I really liked Land of the Dead). And you're dead on about the Day of the Dead remake; the fact that they even put the name of one of the greatest zombie movies ever (with Bub!) on it is a travesty.