Dead Meat Walking: A Zombie Walk Documentary: Film Review
Seattle International Film Festival
Omar J. Pineda
Omar J. Pineda chronicles a real-world (if make-believe) zombie outbreak.
SEATTLE — Zombies or vampires? The two fright-flick staples may compete for popularity on film and TV screens, but only one has inspired thousands of people to turn out for massive, gore-in-good-fun exhibitions on streets across the nation. Omar J. Pineda's Dead Meat Walking takes a lighthearted look at the phenomenon, and would be worth the time for many even if it did nothing but observe participants' often pro-quality costumes. Commercial prospects are limited, but festival and horror-loving small-screen auds will take interest.
Pineda visits cities from Pittsburgh and Toronto to L.A. and Seattle, observing events that vary in tone from gussied-up bar crawls to street-closing affairs as serious as a fanboy convention. (Similar events occur beyond North America; one in Mexico City recently set an attendance record.) Here, man-on-street segments exploring the lore and influence of zombie fiction are especially colorful: Thoughtful, well-spoken interviewees often have chunks of their faces missing, blood and viscera hanging off their tattered clothes, or eyeballs disturbingly altered by prop contact lenses. Pineda photographs his subjects with an intentional-blur effect that sometimes evokes the shoddy craftsmanship of early zombie cinema but occasionally grows distracting.
The filmmaker steps away from the faux-undead from time to time, interviewing rabbis and Christian evangelists about the popularity of zombie imitation. These deeper ruminations are minor and hard to take seriously; while the occasional observation that a tough economy encourages apocalyptic obsessions is inevitable, this isn't the kind of doc to bring scholarship to the subject.
It does, however, illustrate the fact that even devout Christians can embrace the genre's macabre side. Witness 17-year-old Steph Koza, a self-taught Tom Savini wannabe whose sweet, God-fearing parents sit on a teddy-bear-littered sofa and beam with pride at her accomplishments.
Production Company: Rebar Films
Director: Omar J. Pineda
Producers: Omar J. Pineda, Klaus Whitley
Director of photography: Omar J. Pineda, Klaus Whitley
Music: Jeff Findley, Sherri Chung
Editor: Alexis J. Estevez
No rating, 70 minutes