Hot Docs 2014: Doc of the Dead (Alexandre Philippe)


The zombies are taking over tonight at 11:59pm at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema with the international premiere of Philippe’s highly enjoyable, and extremely entertaining look at the world of the undead.

Starting with its cinematic roots, the film journeys back to White Zombie, where we are introduced to the voodoo zombie before George A. Romero changed the game with the classic Night of the Living Dead, and from there, zombie culture, much like the infection that causes it in films, spread, and spread, and spread. Now, culture has become saturated with zombies, and undead imagery, one of the highest rated shows ever, The Walking Dead is all about zombies, based on a comic book about zombies. There are immersive zombie experiences as provided by Zed Events, and many cities feature an annual zombie walk.

The undead are here!


Philippe takes us down a number of venues exploring our fascination with these creatures, a terrifying reflection of ourselves, as well as a mirror of our daily fears.

Featuring hilarious little vignettes sandwiched between interviews with some of the greats like Bruce Campbell, Simon Pegg, Romero, Tom Savini and World War Z author,Max Brooks, this doc has its tongue planted firmly in its undead cheek, and is endlessly fascinating as it entertains.

Wade Davis, and his study of Haiti gets a brief mention (making me want to re-watch The Serpent and The Rainbow at some point in the near future. The history of the world and the origin of the concept is examined, no skull is left unearthed.

For those who didn’t know, we discover when the fascination with brains began, and get to sit ringside as the debate over fast or slow rages on, not to mention the discussion of whether Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later is a zombie film or an infection movie…


The near perfect zombie films, Dawn of the Dead, and Shaun of the Dead get high mentions as well as a discussion of their importance. I love both of these films, and seeing them mentioned, makes me want to warm up the home theatre to revisit the entire genre again very soon, Romero’s original trio of films are classics, and Pegg and Edgar Wright’s horror-comedy is undeniably one of my all time favorite films.

The fear of infection, and the science that could make an actual zombie outbreak are briefly examined, and while it’s not entirely impossible, I still think we’re relatively safe from that threat. At least for the time being. There are a LOT of scary viruses out there, and who knows what some scientist is making in a lab, creating because they can not because they should…

The zombie culture and genre are here to stay, they aren’t going anywhere, and this documentary lovingly examines them, while keeping them at a safe distance, because you sure as hell don’t want to get bitten by one!

This highly enjoyable documentary is screening twice more over the course of the festival, on the 27th at 9:30pm at the Hart House Theatre and one final time at the Royal Cinema at 9:45pm on the 3rd. Shamble your way to one of these screenings, and revel in the brains, the gore, the commentary and the sense of fun this film brings with it.










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