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Capone enjoyed the hell out of DIARY OF THE DEAD!

GEORGE ROMERO'S DIARY OF THE DEAD Hey folks. Capone in Chicago here. First off, enough with this bullshit about DIARY OF THE DEAD being CLOVERFIELD with zombies. It just isn't. George Romero's latest and most radically different zombie tale is not meant to be found footage; it's meant to be the equivalent of a finished, edited, even scored student film (entitled "The Death of Death" if you must know) chronicling the early days of a zombie rising and takeover. In other words, Romero is starting from square one, and he's curious how young people (in this case, a group of student filmmakers and actors) would react as it dawned on them that the world is essentially doomed. In Romero's original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, people turned to the radio and television for updates and speculation. Here, they go to cell phones and the Internet, where people post thousands of homemade videos of zombies attacking and being killed. And of course, people would want to document as much as they could with camcorders. Romero relies on a group of largely unknown actors to tell his story, which certainly sells the believability factor (what there is) and keeps us guessing as to who survives to see the end of this film (if anyone). As a straight-up zombie picture, DIARY OF THE DEAD is a worthy Romero effort. It spooked me consistently and the ways in which zombies and the living are killed or maimed are pretty spectacular, thanks to makeup guru Gregory Nicotero and his crew. There's a sequence set inside an abandoned hospital that truly freaked me out, and the weapon of choice for the professor who tags along with the group of students as they drive to safety is inspired. Thankfully, Romero doesn't skimp on the violence. Romero also hasn't lost his gift for politicizing the zombie phenomenon. He still takes swings at the military, as well as police brutality, government cover-ups, the lack of response after Hurricane Katrina, anti-immigration pundits and the media. Many of the criticisms of the film focus on the acting, and as much as I enjoyed the hell out of DIARY OF THE DEAD, I can't disagree that most of the acting is pretty bad. When you go with a cast of unknowns, this is a risk you run. And were the rest of the film not so strong, the piss-poor acting might have sunk this ship. It may be too close to call for some, and you may give up early. But have faith that Romero does deliver the zombified goods when it comes to blood and guts. And please don't think that George has completely given up featuring a few famous folks in the mix; be sure to listen carefully to the random "voices of reason" that come sporadically throughout the film from the TV or radio or Internet. A handful of them might sound very familiar. The film's final act is set in a mansion, and some of the goings on there seem a little too outrageous even for a film about the living dead, but by that point, I was fully on board. DIARY OF THE DEAD has its flaws, but Romero has simply set the bar so high with his other walking-corpse movies that it may feel like this one falls short. Make no mistake: It's still a solid work of horror from an unqualified master. Capone I think I have a stripper obsession, but is that wrong of me? Ass is nice. I like it. So be it. Even Zombie Ass.



Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 15, 2008, 2:24 a.m. CST

    Damn.

    by SebastianHaff

    I truly cannot wait to see this film. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if I loved six year old boys as much as I love Romero's Dead films, I'd be in jail. Romero is God, NOTLD is his Bible.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 2:27 a.m. CST

    Low budget horror shitfest

    by skywalkerfamily

    At least one guy likes it.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 2:30 a.m. CST

    I keep feeling Romero should quit the zombie thing.

    by Knuckleduster

    But I guess the man's gotta eat! Right? Right? See what I did there?

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 2:48 a.m. CST

    Good review.

    by MelvintheMopBoy

    It must've taken you all of 3 mins to shit that one out. AICN is #1!

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 2:54 a.m. CST

    Anyone remember if Capone chimed in on LotD?

    by GilesT

    'Cause if he liked that, I'll have trouble believing this.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 3:02 a.m. CST

    It's important to remember...

    by Captain Mal

    ... that nearly all the acting in Romero's zombie films is atrocious. Duane Jones was the only passable actor in NOTLD, and every other member of the cast was embarrassing. DAWN OF THE DEAD was better (the best of the lot, actually), but nobody was in danger of winning any Oscars there, either. And the less said about DAY OF THE DEAD, the better. The acting in that film is so unbelievably poor, it's hard to believe those people were paid for the perfomances.<p> I say all this as an unapologetic Romero zombie fan. I love his original trilogy, thought LOTD was mediocre, and am looking forward to DIARY. But the man, for all his brilliance, has never known how to choose actors.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 4 a.m. CST

    I'm dying to see this!

    by sonnyfern

    The mixed reviews are only helping, I still feel like I don't know a damn thing about this movie and I'm curious as all hell!

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 4:55 a.m. CST

    Can't wait!

    by TattooedBillionaire

    Glad you liked it, Capone!

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 6:29 a.m. CST

    the acting......

    by goatboy500

    in the original NOTLD and DOTD was terrible at points ('I see you...Chocolate man!') but it adds to the charm obviously, sonce both movies are uter classics (the over acting in Day grates after a bit but the zombies turn up in the nick of time to eat the offenders) so i got bno problem with the prospect of bad acting by unkowns, its one of the staples of the series (the acting in Land is pretty darn good, but its unfortunately a wholly forgettable movie...coincidence??)

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 6:31 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to see that one........

    by travis-dane

    I liked all Zombie movies Romero did so far.Keep them coming George.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 6:45 a.m. CST

    Good, I'm glad to read this

    by Aethyrr

    Good for good old George!

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 7:08 a.m. CST

    cool!

    by FILMFUNK

    Was it better than the last one though? coz if you say YES then i'm in, if you say NO then I'm not sure i can handle being sooo disapointed by one of my favourite directors again.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 8:54 a.m. CST

    NOBODY is "against immigration" Moriarty

    by ViktorBC

    There are people against "illegal immigration" which is a problem everyone should worry about. By the way.. Re-watched Young Sherlock Holmes last night (1st use of a computer animated character-still looks scary!) and loved it! (Why bring that up? Watch the end of credits for a cameo by Holmes' worse enemy!)

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 8:54 a.m. CST

    NOBODY is "against immigration" Moriarty

    by ViktorBC

    There are people against "illegal immigration" which is a problem everyone should worry about. By the way.. Re-watched Young Sherlock Holmes last night (1st use of a computer animated character-still looks scary!) and loved it! (Why bring that up? Watch the end of credits for a cameo by Holmes' worse enemy!)

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 9:33 a.m. CST

    once again...

    by Ray Gamma

    Joe Pilato's performance in "Day of the Dead" is a masterwork. His character is such an unlikeable, frighteningly deranged nutcase precisely because of Pilato's fantastic characterisation. People just simply don't get it, and the orginal "Day" will forever be hugely underrated.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Ray Gamma.....fuckin oath

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    I love that movie, it's performances just add to the whole deal and Pilato is KING!

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 9:52 a.m. CST

    <cue sound of a grown man, weeping...>

    by duanejones

    fcuk me with a pitchfork, is this what it all comes down to -- shitty acting (a first for romero films, we all concur...), multimedia and their discontents, slow zombies, slower social critique? there was zero time for meta-critical reflection by the characters in _night_, albeit not in the psyche-tormented, PTSD-afflicted audience afterwards. there seems to be ever more time for such bullshit from _dawn_ on and isn't interesting how each _dead_ film sucks more and more in direct proportion to the characters capacity for self-reflection? oh, jorge, i knew you when...wake me when _diary 3_ is released direct to video where its true contribution to american culture will be realized in its battle with _bruiser_ to determine which of the two can gather more dust on the shelf. that, and/or when joe pilato wins the nobel prize in physics for _two evil eyes_... ou sont les rotters d'antan? that was for you, kyle smith, you fascist shithead. i surrender, dears -- can someone now please re-make _ganja and hess_? <cue sound of grown man, as before...>

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 9:55 a.m. CST

    the original title to the previous post was "cue sound of a grow

    by duanejones

    ...with those "carat" symbols (SHIFT-comma + SHIFT-period, respectively) around the phrase, which makes such phrase disappear in whatever system runs these talkbacks, apparently. we've all learned so much, this day...

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 9:57 a.m. CST

    "cue sound of a grown man, weeping"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by duanejones

    :{

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST

    If Capone say its so

    by MatDGZ

    Then I'm game. Of all the writers on here, Capone's reviews and my take on a film seem to settle pretty close to each other. I've read reviews by Harry, Quint, Moriarty etc. and half the time I don't quite agree. I'll take Capone's word on this one coz' its generally been slammed - and Romero can't be worthy of such a panning. Another steady review and i look forward to its release here in the UK.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 12:47 p.m. CST

    Ray Gamma

    by Captain Mal

    If people "don't get it," it's bad acting. The whole point of acting is convey the character's state of being to the audience. If it's done in a way that makes the audience laugh, or groan, or disconnect from the character, it's *bad* acting. It's not like painting a masterwork that "people don't get it." Acting has a very specific purpose.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 2:31 p.m. CST

    Captain Mal

    by Ray Gamma

    Again, you're missing the point. What exactly is it about Pilato's performance that you don't like? The fact that he shouts every line? That he talks over everyone and spits out his melodramatic rhetoric in a ridiculous aggressive drawl? That he's an arrogant nutcase? That he's a fucking total dick? That you wouldn't want to be stuck on a desert island with him? </P> </P> Because that's exactly what the character is supposed to be. The underground shelter where the story takes place is the 'desert island', and Rhodes is the total cock that you would last want to be there with. It just further makes Day of the Dead one of the most horrible, claustrophobic horror movies ever made, and the best.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST

    Ray Gamma (The Reply!)

    by Captain Mal

    Point 1: Thanks for not being a dick. It's a pleasant surprise when someone on these Talkbacks actually has a point to make.<P> Point 2: Just to be clear, I'm not singling out Pilato. *All* of the acting in DAY is very, very poor. (Yes, folks, even the beloved "Bub," who does what he can in a limiting role.)<P> Point 3: It's not that he shouts and spits and is an arrogant dick--it's that he does these things is a cartoonish, caricatured manner that makes me go, "Hey, that guy's ACT-ING!" I don't buy the performance, because it doesn't reflect reality. That's not how people behave. A little subtlety goes a long way, *especially* when you're portraying a horrible person. If this is what you'd call an effective performance, I be curious to see some examples of what you'd call dramatic overacting.<P> Point 4: To clarify a second point, I've really come to like DAY as a film, despite it's flaws. For a long time I simply couldn't take the amateurish aspects, but the final act pretty much redeems the the film. :)

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 3:17 p.m. CST

    Captain Mal

    by Ray Gamma

    I recently wrote what felt like a thesis on here, regarding Sherman Howard's criminally-underrated performance in that movie as "Bub". But now I can't find the article. </P> <P> Anyway, anyone who is a parent of very young children will appreciate what Sherman Howard was doing with that performance, and he absolutely nailed it. They don't give awards to horror actors generally, which is a terrible shame. But he's a classicaly-trained actor who has spent years appearing onstage in hundreds of plays. </P> <P>What I'm saying is, go and raise a couple of young toddlers and then re-watch Sherman Howard's performance with different eyes.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 3:21 p.m. CST

    p.s. I might add once again

    by Ray Gamma

    ...that Romero considers 'Day' to be the best of his 'dead' movies. And unlike most of the herd-like fashion kids, I would personally agree with him. It's the only one of the series that really seems to be set in a tangible apocalyptic scenario.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 3:46 p.m. CST

    Again, Day of the Dead has some GREAT acting...

    by Mrhazard

    Sure it has its share of bad too. The black guy with the HORRIBLY bad Carribean accent. Salazar is awful too. But besides those two characters EVERY body else is damn near perfect. Rhodes, Sarah, Steel, Bub, and Dr. Frankenstein are actually some of my favorite characters in ANY zombie movie ever... I just dont understand why Day gets such bad criticism. IMO it's the greatest zombie movie ever made. Great characters, gore, and the situation the characters are in is so unbelievably bleak. I mean 99% of the movie the the cast is UNDERGROUND for cryin out loud! The conflicts between the army and the scientists are perfect as well. I dont think there's another zombie movie where I love the non-zombie scenes just as much as the z-parts... Every scene in the cafeteria where the army is arguing with the scientists is great. And there's some real nice gore scenes as well. For example I love the dream sequence where Sarah wakes up to see Salazar reaching out to her and his intestines fall to the ground. I seriously could go on and on about how good this movie is... My only complaint about it really is the bad 80s score which really doesn't fit the mood of the film. Besides that tho, it's the G.O.A.T. of z-flicks... Speaking of which, I just saw the remake of Day and while it's a horrible remake, on its own it's NOT that bad of a z-flick. I mean the vegetarian Bub as a zombie is moronic (even tho I get what they were trying to do, the zombie still remembers his previous existance as a human being) and Nick Cannon is probably the most unlikable character in motion picture history doing his best thugged out "Will Smith" impersonation. Besides that tho, there's some good scenes in it. I dont like CGI gore but I do like the magnitude of the zombie outbreak when it begins... One of the reasons why I love the Dawn remake was just because the sheer mass of the zombie hordes chasing the victims. And the zombies run like crackheads in this one as well... If you're a diehard zombie-head I would check it out... It's definitely not as good as the Dawn remake but IMO it was more entertaining than Land... I probably would like it more if it wasn't called Day of the Dead but I say it's definitely worth a rent or a download...

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 4:36 p.m. CST

    Got two kids of my own

    by Captain Mal

    If they started acting like Bub when they were toddlers, I'd have taken them to a neurologist.<p> The fact that DAY is Romero's favorite is, well, meaningless. Everything is subjective, and *one* of them has to be his favorite. <p> As for it being the only one set in a tangible apocalyptic scenario, I disagree. The original NOTLD has Romero's most realistic and "tangible" setting. There may be a few barricaded underground military bunkers in this country, but there are hundreds of thousands of dumpy little farmhouses with breakable doors and dark cellars. Romero has never topped the terror and reality that he achieved with NOTLD.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Oh, and Gamma

    by Captain Mal

    I'd still like to know what you would consider "over-acting."

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 8:47 p.m. CST

    finally

    by WALKNDED

    Going to see it Sunday... Can't wait.

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 11:46 p.m. CST

    Filmed and released...

    by El_Robbo

    ...before that shitfest Cloverfield was even an afterthought of a sperm stain on J.J's underwear. "Oh HAI ALL THE CHARACTER INFORMATION IN MY MOVIE WILL BE INTERNET BASED AND PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO FIND IT!" says Abrams. Romero is sitting back, the cool cat that he is, "Goddamn, baby. I have development in my movies so they last more than an hour and ten minutes and give the audience what they want. You got a lot to learn, boy-o."

  • Feb. 16, 2008, 8:52 a.m. CST

    Great Acting?

    by SwampyFox

    And there was great acting in the other Romero films?

  • Feb. 16, 2008, 1:13 p.m. CST

    Day of the Dead remake

    by Stalkeye

    When i first heard about it starring Ving Raines, i thought to myself "oh shit, now we'll find out what happened to the survivors who landed on an Island infested with Zombies" (Citing the Dawn of the Dead remake.)<p> but to my dismay it wasn't. The film is directed by Steve Miner If memeory serves, he was affiliated with the friday the 13th movies.And it shows just notice the silly 80's horror film cliches: Bully taunts one of the protagonists,typical Black comedy relief guy and dopey ending as a Zombie jumps in the camera.However as a Z flick I found it to be entertaing but not worth a theratrical release. It does'nt compare to Snyder's remake, but way better than House of the Dead and to some degree more scarier than the last resident evil movie.<p> As much respect I have for Romero who is the godfather of Zombie horror, I cannot bring myself to see his latest projects, especially after the shitfest that was Land of the dead. Oppressed Zombies? whatever..!

  • Feb. 17, 2008, 3:01 a.m. CST

    I love ... lamp

    by Custom_personality