REVIEW: Zombiemania (2008)
There have been several documentaries that have taken upon themselves to dive deep into the culture of the zombie subgenre and to understand what makes zombies so appealing and how they have gotten so popular. This craving to theorize, write, watch, act and plan for zombie outbreaks is known as Zombiemania and happens to be the name of the documentary that I watched. This documentary interviews such zombie legends as George A. Romero, Max Brooks and Tom Savini to ask them why they think the zombie genre has gotten so much praise. Additionally, actors from Romero’s films, film critics, authors and even zombie webpage owners are also interviewed to see if they too can uncover the mystery of zombie mania. It was a fun documentary that tries to be diverse when talking about zombies but ends up being a love letter to the “grandfather of zombies,” George Romero.
The film starts off discussing how zombies came to be in film, dating back to the old black and white films where they weren’t flesh eaters but rather cursed people have been forced into slavery by means of removing their soul. This is what a Haitian/voodoo zombie is. Fast-forward to Night of the Living Dead where Romero, with hardly any money, makes a zombie film that not only comments on the social and racial problems of the world but also ends up revolutionizing the zombie genre. The film talks about how Romero, through all his zombie films, have provided aspiring filmmakers and authors a brand new look on the zombie monster. Zombiemania tackles the all important zombie issue of what’s better, fast zombies or slow moving zombies? It seems like the filmmakers are bias and it’s unanimous that slow moving zombies are better since it’s more realistic… or at least as real as a zombie invasion gets.
Diving further into the culture, the film looks at Fido, Shaun of the Dead and Return of the Living Dead and how they managed to take a serious horror film and turn it into a satirical comedy where zombies are capable of having independent thought and even the ability to talk. Additionally, the film dives into how makeup artists create real looking zombies by either studying the decayed bodies such as mummies or by requesting morgues to allow them to photograph bodies. Specifically, I like how they describe that as your body rots away, your lips begin to curl back exposing your teeth. Teeth are the zombie’s primary weapon and they seem more threatening when their teeth are exposed in a hideous and gruesome way.
Books such as the Zombie Survival Guide, Pride Prejudice & Zombies and The Serpent and the Rainbow are also discussed on how they became New York Times bestsellers. The film discusses how many people take the zombie apocalypse seriously but also how many people fantasize a world where zombies have run amok. Games like Land of the Dead and Resident Evil are also talking about and how they made “practicing” for the zombie invasion a little easier. Though the film doesn’t really get to the heart and soul of the zombie subculture, it definitely gave me a new insight on the culture that is Zombiemania. It shows zombie walks, people who have made a living drawing zombie portraits and how special effects gurus have formed businesses around zombie productions. It’s a great film that really puts everything in a nutshell while still paying tribute to George A. Romero. I agree that if it wasn’t for George, the zombie subgenre wouldn’t have taken off but I would like to see some respect to the forbearers before Romero.
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