THURSDAY Night Flix: Doc of the Dead

dod4Welcome to Friday Thursday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

Happy Fourth of July, America! And what’s more American than the zombie movie? Well, in truth, tons of stuff. Zombies are African by way of Haiti. You may have known that already but you’ll likely still find some interesting tidbits in Doc of the Dead (Netflix).

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After an awkward scripted segment (there are many of these, some funnier than others) this charming little doc breezes through White Zombie, casually racist representations of the undead from the 40s, and the sci-fi sensibilities of the 50s. After that it’s on to the main course: Romero.

Perhaps I’m showing my ignorance but I never noticed that the shambling ghouls in Night of the Living Dead weren’t called zombies. According to his interview in this movie, Romero himself didn’t even know he was building on zombie myths from previous films and folklore. And yet he was. Almost entirely by accident, he gave us the basis of the zombie mythos for decades to come: death and transformation by infection through bites, plague-like spread and, of course, the hunger for human flesh.

It’s especially nice to see credit given to Night of the Living Dead for its famous gaffe and, perhaps, most important contribution to horror: the failure of its producer to renew its copyright. That’s why you see it playing on every TV in low-budget horror movies. It also explains why we’re enjoying such a huge variety of zombie entertainment now, because it was so readily accessible to a generation of kids who grew up and are now making movies, comics and games.

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But the whole doc isn’t jsut about zombies in entertainment, though most major entries are covered from the original Romero material through World War Z and Warm Bodies. The next step is talking about the impact of zombie movies on pop culture. Through interviews with Stuart Gordon, Robert Kirkman, Romero, Simon Pegg, Bruce Campbell and a bunch of zombie academics that make me question my lifep ath, we see the broader impact of zombies on the real world. Maybe you know all about zombie runs and zombie theme weddings, but you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a doomsday prepper announce that liberals will be the first to turn into zombies.

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Added Bonus: A Walking Dead porn parody apparently is a thing that exists, complete with hardcore sex scenes between humans and zombies in full prosthesis and makeup. “It’s been some day. We got lost and then reunited. I had a threesome with your mom and my best friend. Carl, i gotta know, do you have it in you to go over there and fuck that girl….and kill her with your cum?” Sweet Jesus I can’t believe I just typed that. Happy holidays!

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