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Lunch » Tags » Horror » Reviews » George Romero's Diary of the Dead » User review

Everyone claims to have "gotten" the message, but is there more?

  • Feb 10, 2009
Rating:
+4
So much has been said about DIARY OF THE DEAD already that even attempting to write an in depth review of it at this point would be a waste of my time, and probably yours as well. Thus what you have before you are some rambling comments on the film and at least one of the major complaints I've heard about it.

Like everyone else who refers to him or herself as a horror fan, I love Romero's previous work. Although LAND OF THE DEAD is taking its own sweet time to grow on me this is not unprecedented since DAY OF THE DEAD had the very same effect on me. DAY OF THE DEAD took a good decade and a half for me to be able to appreciate its charms, it was a case of loathe at first sight. I admit that this is as a result of my inability to cope with Romero's change in tone rather than any defect in the film itself. Its more than likely that this will also prove to be the case with LAND OF THE DEAD which I have only managed to watch once since its release.

My reaction to DIARY OF THE DEAD was as quick as my reaction to DAY had been, but in exactly the opposite direction. Perhaps I'm simply being my normal contrary self and responding to all the negative reviews by coming out in favor of the film, but I don't think so, not this time. I was immediately relieved to learn that Romero had dropped the notion of zombie civilization for the time being because that brings with it all sorts of awkward questions, such as the delicate subject of being asked to feel sympathetic toward creatures who still need human brains in order to survive no matter how much they want to just pull a Greta Garbo and be left alone!

What I was happiest with was that he wasn't hammering his social message home as heavy handedly as I had feared after having seen LAND OF THE DEAD which was almost embarrassingly blatant in its delivery. In fact everyone claims to have "gotten" his message as they proceed to pan his film for not having enough carnage and "serious zombie dining" in it to quote my favorite phrase from Main Man's review, but I think they only "got" half of his message--the obvious half having to do with the distance that the media, television and Internet have put between us and reality. Perhaps there's another more nebulous message in this film that passed by unnoticed.  A message about how films such as his own have decreased the value of a single life until it has come to mean nothing at all. Its just another death. And that doesn't mean anything at all--its all about the body count. To quote the film:

"Its strange how looking at things, seeing things through a lens, a glass, rose-colored or shaded black, you become immune. You're supposed to be affected, but you're not. I used to think it was just you out there, the viewers, but its not. Its us as well, the shooters. We become immune too--inoculated so that whatever happens around us, no matter how horrible it is, we just wind up taking it all in stride. Just another day. Just another death."

The above quote from the end of the film makes me wonder if, as he nears the end of his own life, Romero isn't standing back and asking himself whether his films haven't contributed just a little bit to the devaluation of the worth of a single life. Or at least whether the violence in his films hasn't in some way negatively affected his own life...

Just some rambling thoughts. Liked the movie though, although  the rating is a somewhat more realistic 4 stars.

HYPE FACTOR: Did this even hit the theaters? I can't remember if it went straight to video or not. Much anticipate by fans, that anticipation may have been it's downfall.
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July 27, 2010
Wonderful review, agree 100%
July 28, 2010
I heard just recently that Romero's latest is finally getting a U.S. video release. I know it's been getting horrible reviews but that isn't going to stop me from seeing it. After all DIARY got lousy reviews too.
 
February 16, 2009
I've never had any problems with the intelligent zombie part of the flick. Loved the idea in fact. It was just the idea of peaceful co-existence that he seemed to be springing on us from out of nowhere that got me. They all wanted to pull a Garbo and just be alone. What were they going to substitute for human brains? Now if he had offered us an option...
 
February 13, 2009
AGREED. That made DIARY look pretty good im comparison, and I still think it was better than most of its competitors. But that's what makes horse races.
 
February 12, 2009
CGI zombies are a disgrace to horror! Karen, going back to DOTD, I know Romero was trying to say something but my main issue was he dwelled too much on the social commentary. "Dawn of the Dead" also had a strong message, but the film was more about the zombies. Like I said, I own this flick so I will give it another chance--who knows? maybe it'll grow on me; but "Land of the Dead" was horrendous!
 
February 11, 2009
I have no problems with what Romero was trying to do in LAND OF THE DEAD. If you look at the other 3 movies you can see that he might have been unconciously moving in that direction right from the very beginning. (Part of what made him exceptional was the fact that he brought new things into every subgenre he experimented with.) Remember Bub in DAY OF THE DEAD? That character was a sure indication of where he intended to take his films in the future. Too bad he had to do it in one large move like that rather than in a couple of films made over a period of time. That way he could have acclimated his audience to the idea. From the beginning however, he has characters questioning who the real monsters are--us or the zombies. You might like the Greek zombie flick I reviewed here. Its called EVIL.
 
February 11, 2009
I loathe Land of the Dead. I called it Land of the CGI. It was terrible. Zombies don't have feelings. They don't think. What was Romero doing? Diary of the Dead was better, but nothing beats Day of the Dead. I love that movie. If you love Zombies, check out Nights of Terror. It's from Italy!
 
February 11, 2009
Way to go Trashie. Everyone thinks that Romero is simple, and he's not. He's as complicated as you want him to be.
 
February 11, 2009
Nope, its the same one. I should have added more to support my my argument, but its not like I'm getting paid for this or see it as a potential career or anything. If anyone cared to argue the point I'd elaborate, but no one ever does. I think sometimes it just takes awhile for a movie to take hold. I doubt that LAND OF THE DEAD will ever sit well with me. I think it totally missed the mark. But then who knows I may change my mind. DIARY on the other hand while it certainly never reached the greatness of Romero's first 3 flix did have something. I guess that they can only be judged with the passage of time. I do find it outrageous that fans criticize DIARY for having bad acting. Have they really taken a look at NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with a critical eye? Judith O'Dea was bad even for the 1960s.
 
February 11, 2009
I dunno, Karen, I REALLY wanted to like this flick, I honestly tried to--but I just couldn't! Maybe I'll try to see it again a 2nd time, I just think it could have done so much more. I don't hate it but I don't like it either. this reads like a newer review from the one you had before in amazon... Nice write up as always!
September 02, 2009
I think we just expect so much from him that anything he gives us is bound to disappoint us the first time we see it. It's just sort of inevitable
 
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karen ()
Ranked #21
I am the poster child for inertia. Where ever I am is where I plan to stay FOREVER.   So much so in fact that it took me decades to understand the punchline about why   the chicken … more
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Director: George A. Romero
Genre: Horror, Action, Adventure
Release Date: February 15, 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1hr 35min
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