DVD Tuesday: And the corpse came back, the very next day... George Romero's Diary of the Dead puts a nasty new spin on old living dead cliches.

Zombies have always given me nightmares, and Night of the Living Dead terrified me before I'd even seen it -- Roger Ebert's piece about seeing it at a kiddie matinee in a neighborhood theater gave my imagination plenty to work with.

I've seen a lot of zombie movies since then and I'm pretty inured to them, which is why I was pleasantly suprised by George Romero's new Diary of the Dead, if pleasantly is the word. I was afraid that the conceit -- essentially rebooting the Dead franchise by going back to the beginning and telling the story on digital video, as though it had been made by student filmmakers (a la Blair Witch Project) -- would seem hokey and tired, like the efforts of an aging filmmaker to appeal to the young folks.

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But I was wrong: It actually get Romero back to the raw immediacy of Night of the Living Dead -- which was shot on the fly by a bunch of filmmakers with no feature experience -- and, better still, smoothed over Romero's tendency to overstate the metaphor. You know: The dead, they're the nightmare us, a permanent underclass literally rising up to bite the power.

When those ideas -- along with some newer ones about media-mediated experience in the internet age -- spill from the mouths of pretentious film students, they sound exactly right.

And I have to say, Diary's zombies are nasty. The special effects are far more elaborate than the ones in Night, but they lack the "check this out!" polish of most contemporary effects. It always pulls me out of the horror when I'm admiring the latex work.

I recommend checking it out. And if you haven't seen Night of the Living Dead -- or haven't seen it recently -- it's coming out next week in a 40th anniversary special edition. The film looks great -- in its grainy, B&W way, and the extras include an audio interview with Duane Jones, who played Ben, and new featurette featuring much of the original cast.

Send your movie questions to FlickChick.

See Maitland McDonagh and Ken Fox review this week's new flicks on the Movie Talk vodcast.


Things to Consider:

Where do you stand on zombie movies -- do you find other monsters more interesting?

What do you think is behind the current spate of zombie books and movies, including the Dawn of the Dead remake, 28 Days and 28 Weeks Later and Max Brooks' novel World War Z, which Eli Roth is adapting for the screen.


Previously in DVD Tuesday:

2008:
Videodrome
The Kingdom
M
Touch of Evil
Bonnie and Clyde
Atonement
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
Rififi
Michael Clayton
Network
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
Shoot 'Em Up
Freeway
A Mighty Wind

2007:

It's a Wonderful Life
Waitress
Laura
Cop
All About Eve
Severance
Sweet Smell of Success
Daughters of Darkness
The Crazies
Blade Runner
Zodiac
Manhunter
A Simple Plan
Taxi Driver
Renaissance
Blowup
Hot Fuzz
300
Ace in the Hole
Eyes Without a Face
Apocalypto
Citizen Kane
La Jetée
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
Bob le Flambeur
Near Dark
Perfect Blue
Pan's Labyrinth
Les Girls
The Girl Who Knew Too Much
The Queen
Expresso Bongo
I'm Not Scared
Shocking Grindhouse Double Bill! - Scanners and The Candy Snatchers
Don't Look Now
Re-Animator
Casino Royale
Pi
The Prestige
13 Tzameti
The Departed
Suspiria
Kiss and Make Up
Kiss Me Deadly
The Long Good Friday
What Alice Found
The Devil's Backbone
The Descent
The Devil Wears Prada
Pandora's Box
The Thief and the Cobbler
Nashville
Panic in the Streets/Jack Palance Interview
The Pusher Trilogy
Scarface
Slither
Sunset Blvd.
In Cold Blood
Brick