The past ten years have made it apparent that there is no more room in hell, because everywhere you look, the dead are walking the earth. Zombies are a genuine pop-cultural phenomenon, starring in cable TV's most popular show, sitting at the center of tentpole film franchises and appearing in more video games than Mario and Master Chief combined. And now, in the brand-new Doc of the Dead, our strange cultural fascination with the undead is getting the thorough post mortem it deserves.
Denver filmmakers Alexandre O. Phillipe and Robert Muratore are unleashing the film today at SXSW. Like their previous film, The People Vs. George Lucas, Doc of the Dead is an in-depth examination of a unique pop-cultural phenomenon that should appeal to both hardcore fans and curious onlookers.
"I really tried to make a film that was both going to be accessible to people who have no clue, no understanding what zombies are all about, and that the most sophisticated zombie fans can watch and have a really good time," Phillipe says. "It's really friendly to both people who are zombie fans and people who may have been walking by the zombie walk,scratching their heads and wondering what the hell is going on."
Featuring interviews with almost every big name in the zombieverse, from zombie godfather George A. Romero to Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman, plus footage from some of the biggest zombie movies and games, Doc of the Dead is a deep, involving film that offers a thorough overview of the place of zombies in the world today without becoming a tired recitation of every zombie book, film or game in existence.
"I didn't want to get into a whole zombie history," Philippe says. "That's been done before. I really wanted to be minimal about that, and focus on a few important milestones, to then be able to focus on the culture, which is my main reason for making this film."
Keep reading for more on Doc of the Dead, including where to see it locally
The result is a fast-paced, entertaining film that pairs nicely with their previous pop-culture doc,The People vs. George Lucas
, as an examination of the way that pop-cultural creations can take on a life of their own, whatever intentions their creators may have had for them.
"I really look at The People vs. George Lucas and Doc of the Dead as a tale of two Georges," Phillipe explains. "There's a symmetry there in the sense that People vs. George is about a George that kept his idea and franchise very close to the chest, and said, 'It's mine, it's mine, it's mine.' Then the other George let go of it, because he wasn't a businessman and the copyright when out and it went into the public domain, and he just let go of it. It's the total opposite of George Lucas. It's incredible.
"If Romero had trademarked his zombies, had been as savvy from day one, zombies would probably be owned by Disney right now, or somebody," he adds. "You couldn't just go out and make your own zombie movie. The reason why they're so popular is because of that, because he wasn't so business oriented and selfish that it became this one thing that everybody could use and make movies with and write books about and do all kinds of stuff."
For those who aren't at SXSW (and it's probably fair to assume if you're reading this, you are not in Austin), you can catch Doc of the Dead at 6 p.m. this Saturday, March 15 when it premieres on Epix. If you prefer to wait and see it on the big screen, your best shot is at the Stanley Film Festival, April 24 to April 27, or at Horrorhound Weekend in Ohio at the end of the month. You can also enjoy Philippe's other zombie project, the zombie Western comic Deadskins, for free anytime during SXSW by visiting the Fried Comics SXSW page.
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(Disclosure: I am one of the zombie experts interviewed for the film, but I received no compensation for said appearance. I also briefly appeared, without compensation, in The People Vs. George Lucas.)