Review: BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD (2014){0}

Less than a month ago I saw, enjoyed, and reviewed a new documentary called Doc of the Dead. Directed by the man who gave us The People vs. George Lucas – which is more fair-minded than its title suggests – it’s a quick, slick, and entirely enjoyable documentary about the history of zombie cinema. Logically, a large portion of Doc of the Dead is dedicated to legendary filmmaker George A. Romero and his classic zombie trilogy: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1981), and Day of the Dead (1985). But given how monumentally influential that 1968 movie has proven to be, it surely warrants a feature documentary of its own.
Fortunately, Rob Kuhns’ Birth of the Living Dead is a classy, thorough, and entirely professional affair. Supported by some cool animation, an expeditious pacing, and a solid array of insights from some very smart horror geeks, Birth of the Living Dead should prove to be a treat to anyone who holds Romero’s most famous film in high regard. Even if a few of the anecdotes are familiar by now (like how Mr. Romero accidentally lost the copyright to Night of the Living Dead), Kuhns and his cohorts keep things moving at an appreciable clip.

In addition to excellent interview segments with film historians, authors, and filmmakers like Mark Harris, Jason Zinoman, Elvis Mitchell, Gale Anne Hurd, and Larry Fessenden, Birth of the Living Deadalso features the lovable Romero at his most open, honest, and humble. Kuhns and company are clearly fans of Romero’s classic: aside from the more standard interview pieces, the film also delves into the production, the cultural and racial impact of the film, and its effectiveness as a horror film today. (Some of the film’s best moments focus on a bunch of Bronx schoolkids who just watched NOTLD ‘68 for the very first time.)

Birth of the Living Dead is sure to find fans among the zombie lovers (like you and me), but it also stands as a firm and very convincing argument that Night of the Living Dead (1968) is among the most important and influential films … of all time. One doesn’t need to be a horror fan to agree with that assertion, particularly after hearing the points laid down by this informative and affectionate documentary.

Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg)

Birth of the Living Dead is available to rent/stream or buy/download at