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Diary of the Dead

Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts
Running time: 90 minutes
Rating: R

Story: A group of young filmmakers are shooting a low budget horror film on campus. Little do they know that an outbreak of the living dead has occurred. Putting a stop to their work, now they must fight their way through the real horror.

Review: Films about the living dead have been have been a part of cinema pretty much from the beginning. In the 1930s there we such classics as 'White Zombie' and in the 1960s we were blessed with such films as 'Plague of the Zombies' and of course the 1968 Pennsylvania classic 'Night of the Living Dead.' The sub-genre was really booming throughout the 1970s and 80s, but like slasher films there just got to be too many and people seemed to be getting tired of the same old conventions. Not that people weren't making zombie films throughout the 1990s, like Brian Yuzna's 'Return of the Living Dead 3' for instance, but they were few and far in between, especially the good ones. A little film called "Resident Evil' would soon change that.

In 2002 a film based on the popular video game 'Resident Evil' was released and did pretty well for itself. It went on to spawn two sequels and in the years following a whole new wave of zombie flicks began. Even George Romero gave it another go with his 2005 sequel 'Land of the Dead.' Personally I really dig the film, but some fans weren't thrilled and the film didn't do so well at the box office. A few years later Romero announced that he'd be making a new zombie film, but instead of doing another sequel to his popular 'Dead' series, it would be a sort of rebooting of it. Unlike 'Land' this new film was done independently and with the added gimmick of showing almost everything through a camera ala 'The Blair Witch Project.'

Much to the fans' dismay 'Diary of the Dead' was not given a wide theatrical release. Instead the release was limited and then it was picked up by Dimension Film's new Extreme label for DVD. Once again reviews were mixed and some fans have even gone as far to say they think George Romero has "lost it." But apparently this has not discouraged him from doing more because as we speak he's working on another '...of the Dead' set for release sometime next year. But until then we still have his other five walking dead flicks to enjoy again and again and I for one like his latest. Sure it can't compare with his past work, but it's a solid effort.

The film starts with a pretty strong and scary opening sequence. Romero wastes little time in getting to the zombie goods. The previous 'Dead' films all featured good acting from the cast and this film is no exception. Aside from looking bad a few times due to some silly lines, the cast does a fine job. Be prepared for some pretty cool gore scenes sprinkled throughout. As usual, George's direction is both suspenseful and compelling.

To keep things from being too serious, there are some dashes of humor here and there. My favorite is the part with the Amish gentleman. The film moves at a good pace from start to finish. One thing I think we've come to expect from a George Romero zombie film is good gore and make-up effects, and this film doesn't disappoint in this department. Though it's not exactly new, using the gimmick of seeing everything through the eyes of a camera is a good attempt at something different for the sub-genre.

Overall the film is pretty good, but it's also a bit uneven. First of all, there are too many characters to really keep track of. Plus some of them we don't get to know well enough to care about them. As I said earlier, some of the lines are just terrible and make the actors look bad at times. But this isn't the worst of it, oh no. The biggest beef I have with this film is the level of social commentary.

In the other 'Dead' films the social commentary was a welcome part of each film and it never felt like Romero was being preachy. Here it's spread on a bit too thick and comes off as pretentious. And finally, aside from the camera gimmick this film isn't much different than a lot of other recent zombie movies. It's an entertaining, well-shot and acted horror film with good effects and some memorable scenes, so I wouldn't say it's not worth seeing. Just don't go in expecting another masterpiece from the director and you may have a good time.

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