Autopsy of the Dead – review

If there is a subject that should be rife with stories and ideal for a documentary, it should be Night of the Living Dead. This is single-handedly the most influential and important horror film made. Argue if you want to, that’s fine, but genre and sub-genre alike were born of this seed, as were the directing careers of dozens of directors. So being such an important film, you would think this would be a wonderful source of information for a documentary, alas, this is not the case, at least with this film.

Delving into many of the lesser-known contributors to NOTLD, the film features anecdotes and stories from the making of the seminal film. All but a couple of these people are either used to only working behind the scenes on films or were local citizens that ended up lurching around in the background hungering for flesh. Most of those interviewed are very awkward, though genuine, and while they have some interesting stories, the lack of someone on camera to ask the questions and direct things is a real issue. The film presents you with several sections but none of which seem to fit the title card, and the anecdotes are aimless and offer no deep insights into how the film was made. This is not to say that there are not some interesting stories, and it is wonderful for all these ‘bit’ players to get some limelight and to be able to talk about their experiences. The problem here is that the people you want to hear from that had the most to do with the film are nowhere to be seen. There is no Romero, and none of the other seminal people that tour regularly at conventions. Had those voices been included this would have been an absolutely necessary film for fans of the series and for film fans in general. As it, the film seems unfinished.

Shot statically, so that it becomes talking heads in their homes, and with no one to lead the discussions, this is a very disjointed and, sadly, boring film. There are interesting stories, and again, it’s great to see the personalities involved in lesser roles in the film, but there isn’t enough here, and what there is here, it isn’t nearly as informative or exhaustive as it should be. This feels more like excerpts from a book than a film. And what a book would it make. Very boring direction and awkward editing, some terrible title card effects, and no real sense of flow (the movie has no real ‘story’ to tell outside of the anecdotes). The shame of this is that this is footage that should be seen by fans, but should have been held until Romero or other voices could be added to the mix.

A very uneven and boring film that, while at times interesting, never really does more than offer a few fun stories and a couple really fascinating ones (how the film was lit and how the end sequence was done is really interesting to hear) but overall, is a pretty disappointing movie. What a shame and a missed opportunity.

4 out of 10

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