Monday, July 7, 2008

Fan of the Dead (2008)

Fan of the Dead is a travel documentary about Nicolas Garreau, a French fan of George A. Romero’s Living Dead series, who travels to Pennsylvania to unearth the shooting locations used in Romero’s films, including the infamous Monroeville Mall from Dawn of the Dead, the original basement used in Night of the Living Dead, the farmhouse used in Night of the Living Dead 1990, the underground military facility used in Day of the Dead, the cemetery from the original Night of the Living Dead, and many more!

Garreau also filmed his visit to the Pittsburgh Comic Convention, which features interviews with various cast members from the films and fan reactions. Stars from the films even accompany fans to the shooting sites of the mall and the small airport from Dawn of the Dead.

Fan of the Dead is the ultimate fanboy (and girl) film for those that haven’t been able to visit such hallowed sites themselves (and even for those who have to “compare notes” with Garreau). It’s like Fodor’s come to life for horror fans! Fan of the Dead is like if you and your Living Dead fanatic friends filmed yourselves visiting Romero’s stomping grounds…everything is shot via handheld camera with a decidedly “home movie” feel. However, Garreau has so much passion and love for his subject that you quickly forget about the amateur production values and just enjoy the ride alongside the charming Nicolas, who manages to befriend just about everyone on his trip!

One of the best parts in the film is when various cast members from Dawn of the Dead (Ken Foree, David Emge, Machete Zombie – Lenny Lies, Nurse Zombie – Sharon Ceccatti, Helicopter Zombie – Jim Krut, and more!) accompany a small bus load of fans for a walk around Monroeville Mall, pointing out famous (or infamous) shooting locations. Some of the same cast also joined fans for a jaunt around the small airport where the group of survivors stopped to refuel. Hearing the actors talk about filming the movie was just as exciting as watching the joy of the fans! The enthusiasm of both the fans and cast is contagious!

Of course, there were also scenes of just Garreau driving to his next location and speaking heartfelt words about the films he so loves. We also got to hear about the hardships he faced in finding the exact locations and shared his joy when he finally arrived. His trip to the military bunker used in Day of the Dead (it is now used as a warehouse) was pretty neat, as the people that work there still remember when Romero shot there and many were used as extras in his film.

The documentary (though “vacation video” seems more appropriate) did drag in a few places, but with a short running time of 60 minutes it mostly moves at a quick pace. My only big complaint was the horrible voiceover work done. Garreau speaks French most of the time, so his voice was dubbed over with an “actor’s” voice…but this guy delivered his lines so flat and unconvincing that it really detracted from the film. I don’t know why subtitles weren’t used, but if they had it would have made for a much more pleasant viewing experience.

Besides that, Fan of the Dead is a fantastic little film that will delight horror fans! It’s so much fun to see locations used 25 (or more!) years ago and say, “Holy crap! I remember that!!” I wouldn’t be surprised if Fan of the Dead revives tourism in Pennsylvania, because as soon as you see this you’ll definitely want to plan your own terrifying trip to unearth Romero’s Living Dead locations!

Fan of the DeadOfficial Site

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