George A. Romero's DIARY OF THE DEAD

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George A. Romero's DIARY OF THE DEAD

Post by Griff [Mola] » Sun Sep 09, 2007 1:10 am

Wow. Can't believe there isn't a thread for this one.

Just got back from the world premiere and I'm happy to announce that DIARY is a winner. Its clever, its fun, its just a wonderful little movie and it should shut alot of annoying fuckers up, once and for all. I suspect the filmmakers knew they had something special on their hands and are deliberately waiting for word of mouth to spread before putting it on the market. It would be a crime not to have this baby play theatres around the world.

Sincerely, I couldn't be happier for Romero. Eat shit, Hollywood!


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Post by Latte Thunder » Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:14 am

I just read a review of this from TIFF. If I could have been there to see it, I would have been all over it. Sounds great. One of the guys on my blogroll was up there to see it but he hasn't reported back to me. Sounds encouraging.

How was the violence? If you can count on one thing, Romero delivers the gore when it comes to his zombies and Nicotero did the effects, but I also heard that the movie got a Canadian 14A which, I guess, is like PG-13 here in the states.
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Post by Griff [Mola] » Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:36 am

I think a Canadian mob, Gaslight Studios, did the effects but Nicotero 'supervised'.

Its not a gorefest but it doesn't shy away from the stuff, either. I guess its more to do with the nature of the film: handheld camera work, simulating an off-the-cuff shooting style - rather than a deliberate attempt to pander to a milder sensibility. But when those moments do happen, they're quite creative and immensley satisfying. There's a definite arguement for the less-is-more school of thought here.

The way things are at the moment, I can see this getting away with an R quite easily in the States but a PG-13 is out of the question.

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Post by Darth Tanner » Tue Sep 11, 2007 8:11 pm

George Romero has another zombie film in the can?!? How did I not hear about this?

But it's great that he was able to make another movie so soon after LAND OF THE DEAD. I seriously hope this gets a wide release in the U.S. I skipped LOTD on the big screen and waited for the "uncut" version on DVD. Wish now that I hadn't passed up that opportunity. But you know what they say....never make the same mistake twice:) Compromised or not...I'll definitely see DIARY when it comes out here in the states.
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Post by Chris Slack » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:40 pm

While it wasn't the greatest of Romero's zombie films it was easily the most thought provoking. His social statements were much less subtle than in previous films, this time he chose to comment on the twisting of truths by the mainstream media while at the same time he celebrating the immediacy of obtaining/providing information through the Internet. While the acting at times seemed a little forced the characters were believable and enjoyable. The gore factor wasn't as high as the others but at least we got real art from Greg Nicotero and friends rather than the typical CGI we have seen so much of lately. I will definitely recommend this one. And yes, it was superior to "Land of the Dead."
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Post by Griff [Mola] » Thu Feb 21, 2008 8:45 am

Its important to consider that alotta scenes are played out in very long takes with the actors memorizing many pages of dialogue - often without the aid of editors to add in those extra beats and dramatic close-ups we've become so use to 'enhancing' mainstream performances. It simply doesn't subscribe to what we're used to regarding as 'good acting'.

And, yeah, its a bit heavy handed at times but then it establishes itself from the outset as being a student project with an agenda. The moralizing is therefore somewhat warranted.

So, you have been warned. This is not CLOVERFIELD or BLAIR WITCH. Its much more structured than that.

Glad you liked it though, Chris. You must be near one of the 42 cinemas they screened it at. Limited release? You ain't fucking kidding... This was never even given a chance.

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Post by Remo D » Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:45 pm

'Griff [Mola wrote:]Its important to consider that alotta scenes are played out in very long takes with the actors memorizing many pages of dialogue - often without the aid of editors to add in those extra beats and dramatic close-ups we've become so use to 'enhancing' mainstream performances. It simply doesn't subscribe to what we're used to regarding as 'good acting'.

And, yeah, its a bit heavy handed at times but then it establishes itself from the outset as being a student project with an agenda. The moralizing is therefore somewhat warranted.

So, you have been warned. This is not CLOVERFIELD or BLAIR WITCH. Its much more structured than that.

Glad you liked it though, Chris. You must be near one of the 42 cinemas they screened it at. Limited release? You ain't fucking kidding... This was never even given a chance.
SUPPOSEDLY it will move wider within a couple of weeks. We shall see what we shall see.
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Post by beyond » Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:26 am

I mistook it for Zombie Diaries: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0876294/

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Post by Remo D » Sat Apr 26, 2008 11:25 am

Holy hell, they opened it for us. Less than a month before the DVD comes out. No matinees. Out of town. But I FINALLY get to see it on the big screen. Will report back later.
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Post by steven_millan » Sat Apr 26, 2008 2:02 pm

We'll be patietnly awaiting for that report/review(since your reviews always kick ass and are well structured),for my brother recently caughtt his film and says that it's a decent Romero zombie outing(despite not liking the clown bit)that he liked even more than "Land Of The Dead".

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Post by Remo D » Sun Apr 27, 2008 1:15 pm

I had given up hope. DIARY OF THE DEAD got itself an art-house release out of my reach, and the promised "wide" release never happened. I was resigned to DIARY becoming the first and only genuine Romero "Dead" film that I would not get to see on the big screen... with the DVD release less than 30 days away...

...and yet... and yet... I got my eleventh-hour reprieve! One multiplex, out of town but reachable, surprised us with DIARY OF THE DEAD for what will surely be one weekend only (my wife and I were practically the only ones in the theatre, which was going to far greater lengths to promote the "documentary" EXPELLED, which nobody was showing up for, either). I will have to commend the Maya Cinemas for their unorthodox "multiplex" booking all the same... SOMEBODY's got to do it, right?

You may recall that I quite liked LAND OF THE DEAD. Tremendously entertaining, fun characters, great gore effects--not to mention the thrill of seeing a genuine ROMERO on the big screen again. But deep down, I knew that it wasn't "really" the capper to NIGHT, DAWN and DAY, and it wasn't the 'name' actors or the big studio gloss, either. It simply wasn't the next logical step in the series. Hard truth: cell phones didn't exist when DAY OF THE DEAD was filmed, and it's a bit hard to believe that civilization managed to invent and maintain them in the interval between DAY and LAND, considering how the human race was all but wiped out to begin with! DAWN made it clear that martial law had been declared and that private residences, no matter how safe, etc., were illegal. So I also doubt that Fiddler's Green could have sprung up in the chaos.

Not a knock on the movie. The movie worked, and it worked well. Just not as a FOURTH (let alone final) chapter.

So this time out, Romero did what had to be done. Since DAY (as filmed) didn't really lend itself to a logical follow-up, and since time, civilization and technology have undergone massive, rapid changes over the past two decades, the time had come to stop trying to CONTINUE the story that started in 1968. And if it's good enough for James Bond?

No, DIARY OF THE DEAD is no sequel. It's the reboot that asks what LAND did not--namely, how would WE react if the zombie plague started TODAY? In a world of 24-hour news, perilous foreign relationships, conspiracy theories, Myspace, YouTube, what have you? How might the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD scenario played out if it hadn't taken place in 1968?

The original NOTLD gave us the state of the low-budget art with the emergency radio broadcasts and the local news people covering the scene--and an experienced, low-budget commercial filmmaker like Romero knew just how to convey the "you are there" effect. People bought into the story and began to read as much of the real world as they cared to into it. Romero denied that he was talking about Vietnam. Romero denied that he cast a black man in a lead role in order to make any sort of "statement." But people went down those roads anyway, and they continue to do so to this day. And they only do so because the movie WORKED and continues to WORK.

Now in his seventies, we're anxious to see if Romero can do it again. The ingredients are already there--the world is in genuine chaos and conflict with no end in sight, there's less and less common ground in the middle of extreme polar politics, and the "border" issue is one of the hottest topics out there. People want to remain safe in their own secure comfort zone, but the world keeps getting louder and louder with a global "ain't gonna happen." What a perfect time for the dead to walk.

And with DIARY OF THE DEAD, Romero truly does return to his roots as he gives us another diverse group of characters (mostly film students and their older professor, but with plenty more encountered along the way) as they learn of the plague, make their own decisions, and learn to live (or not) with the consequences.

The film plays as a documentary under the title THE DEATH OF DEATH, supposedly as filmed by one of the main characters (barely seen, as he's almost always behind the camera), of course. The narrator informs you that music and editing tricks have been added for effect, because you NEED to be scared by what you're seeing--so that you'll pay attention and hopefully avoid repeating certain on-screen mistakes when it happens to YOU.

In other words, this is not CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT or CLOVERFIELD. Though told from the perspective of multiple cameras (and what movie ISN'T?), it still plays as a movie--a very believable movie (once one accepts the premise) at that. The technology is new, but it's far more than a gimmick--even when you want to scream at someone to drop the camera and just RUN, you're forced to buy into his argument and understand just WHY this needs to be filmed, uploaded, shared, etc. The rapidly dwindling availability of technology drives the plot every bit as much as the living dead themselves do--yet in the end, it still boils down (as it must) to "We'll be safe if we seal ourselves in here!" "No--we need to defend the place if they get in!" (The line "the cellar is a deathtrap" isn't used, but listen for a news outtake from the original NOTLD all the same.)

Yet while this is a reboot, Romero is fully aware of how many previous 'zombie' films (including his own) the viewer is likely to have seen, so he doesn't waste time with repetitious exposition. Best example--WE all know what happens if a character gets bitten, so DIARY doesn't waste any time building up to the inevitable. And the horror faithful get plenty of recognition, but not in the form of "nod and wink" on-screen appearances... here, you'll have to try to identify Stephen King, Wes Craven, Guillermo del Toro, Quentin Tarantino and Simon Pegg by voice alone!

The gore is, of course, plentiful, and against all odds, they've actually come up with a few new ways to destroy (or attempt) to destroy a zombie's brain (I loved the bit with the shock paddles, that's all I'm going to say). There are wrenching and devastating character moments (you do, indeed, grow to know and like these people), some surprising and welcome comedy (I'M SAMUEL. HELLO.), some unforgettable images (swimming pool) and an outrageous sequence that COULD have derailed the film but works here (set up at the beginning of the film as people complain about certain unbelievable and gratuitous elements of a student horror film in progress)--if there was ever a DROP THE CAMERA ALREADY moment? You'll see.

We've had sequels that worked, sequels that almost worked, remakes that worked in a different way, "anniversary edition" mutilations, comedy redubs and more homages and ripoffs than are possible to count. But as bold as this statement may sound, I'll stand by it: George A. Romero has now truly given us the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD of the 21st century. See it by any means possible.
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Post by Latte Thunder » Sun Apr 27, 2008 7:08 pm

Allow me to be the counterpoint.

I really, really didn't care for it. It nearly collapses under the weight of:

Exceptionally bad acting.
It can't seem to make up its mind whether or not it's trying to point out how media saturated our culture is, how awful news outlets are at actually delivering the news or whether or not the amateur journalism of Web 2.0 is a good thing or a bad thing.
That fucking film school professor.
The crisis never feels like a crisis.

I realize that George had a tiny budget to work with here but there was a time when he would rise to the occasion and make his reduced budgets work to his advantage. Night of the Living Dead is a really cheap looking movie that often suffers for its shaky acting but the setting, the circumstances, the camera work and framing, the gradual growth of the zombie mob outside that makes you realize how bad an idea staying put is... Man, all of those factors worked for the movie even though it's flaws are practically the same as Diary of the Dead. Diary had none of the stuff that makes Night of the Living Dead, in my opinion, the perfect horror movie.

It's not a total bust, some of the kill scenes are pretty inventive but I hold Romero to a higher standard because he's a favorite of mine and is responsible for a major paradigm shift in horror movies. I realize that he's getting on and that his best days are behind him but I was left with the impression that the magic is gone.
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Post by Remo D » Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:27 pm

Latte Thunder wrote:Allow me to be the counterpoint.

I really, really didn't care for it. It nearly collapses under the weight of:

Exceptionally bad acting.
It can't seem to make up its mind whether or not it's trying to point out how media saturated our culture is, how awful news outlets are at actually delivering the news or whether or not the amateur journalism of Web 2.0 is a good thing or a bad thing.
That fucking film school professor.
The crisis never feels like a crisis.

I realize that George had a tiny budget to work with here but there was a time when he would rise to the occasion and make his reduced budgets work to his advantage. Night of the Living Dead is a really cheap looking movie that often suffers for its shaky acting but the setting, the circumstances, the camera work and framing, the gradual growth of the zombie mob outside that makes you realize how bad an idea staying put is... Man, all of those factors worked for the movie even though it's flaws are practically the same as Diary of the Dead. Diary had none of the stuff that makes Night of the Living Dead, in my opinion, the perfect horror movie.

It's not a total bust, some of the kill scenes are pretty inventive but I hold Romero to a higher standard because he's a favorite of mine and is responsible for a major paradigm shift in horror movies. I realize that he's getting on and that his best days are behind him but I was left with the impression that the magic is gone.
By all means, visit the Cinema Suicide blog for the fully detailed and well written counterpoint. I have a feeling you'll want to see the film no matter which of us you end up agreeing with!

As for bad acting and that film school professor? Well, I've been to film school, and he exists...
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Post by DylanDog » Fri May 30, 2008 3:09 pm

I finally watched it last night and man, am I glad I couldn't find anyone to drive out to Boston to see it with. It would've been a wasted trip. I won't say I hate the movie, and I will finish watching all the dvd extras and the commentary, etc.. Maybe George can talk me into appreciate it more than I did. But on first viewing, it seemed to be about on par with Revenge of the Living Dead 4 & 5 and The Dead Hate the Living, etc.. Watchable, but among the worst of the modern wave of zombie films.

I agree with most of what Bryan said and I'll also add that I think the idea of cutting the final product into a film, adding sound effects, etc completely undermines the purpose of having the hand held gimmick in the first place. Are we watching real time footage or a movie? Make up your mind because, imo, you can't have it both ways.. Plus, it's like Romero saying "hey, if this sucks...it's Jason Creed's movie...". ;)

I thought the humor was out of place and not in keeping with the grim feeling of his previous films. Sure, he's allowed to do something different from what he had done in the past, but I think doing what others have already done is not the right move. (That said, I did sort of dig the idea of a zombie in a mummy outfit!)

I thought it was ironic that there was a line of dialogue that referenced "Shaun of the Dead". It just emphasized for me that the torch has been passed and it's time for George to let go of it.

(Nothing to do with this movie...but man, I'm really looking forward to Walking Dead #50!)
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