Part of a Late Horror Masters’ Lesser Works double-feature. Opens with a disclaimer about the treatment of the movie’s monkeys, but they never appeared to be in any convincing danger, except maybe in the final scene. No mention of the treatment of the movie’s parakeets. Monkey tricks are the primary reason to watch this movie, except for George Romero and/or Stanley Tucci completists.

Allan’s car accident:

Allan and monkey giving the same steely expression:

Moody Allan (Jason Beghe of One Missed Call Remake) is badly crippled, so his monkey-researcher friend Geoffrey (John Pankow of Talk Radio) donates a brain-eating monkey to service-animal trainer Melanie (Kate McNeil of The House on Sorority Row) to get Allan a furry helper buddy. Brain-eating monkey in a George Romero movie – what could go wrong?

Mad scientist Geoffrey:

Geoffrey’s boss Stephen Root:

Moody Allan is a bad influence on the monkey, who starts to murder everyone who she perceives as a threat – first setting fire to Allan’s ex (Lincoln NE’s Janine Turner of Northern Exposure) who has run off with his doctor (Stanley Tucci), then electrocuting Allan’s annoying mom (Joyce Van Patten of Bone), killing Geoffrey via drug injection, and most horribly, murdering the parakeet of Allan’s hateful catetaker (Christine Forrest, Romero’s wife). After she threatens Melanie in a rage, Allan manages to dispatch the monkey using only his neck and mouth. We also get a monkey-surgery dream sequence and blurry monkey-POV shots. Mostly dullsville compared to the space vampires. My birds reacted to the monkey chatter, but not to the parakeet.

Romero is just making mediocre genre movies and putting zombies in ’em now. This one’s a dumb 80’s actioner (buncha dudes act tough and spit bad dialogue punctuated by explosions) crossed with a silly-ass Irish family-feud revenge drama‚Ķ with zombies in it. Shamus Muldoon is warring with Patrick O’Flynn on a small island off Ireland Delaware. One wants to kill all the local zombies, the other wants to keep ’em around attached to chains, like the last few minutes of Shaun of the Dead turned into a pretend-serious idea… “pretend” because whenever the drama threatens to get heavy, the movie throws in some cartoony business to show it’s all in good fun. The comedy destroys the drama since the drama wasn’t so good to begin with. At least Land of the Dead had new ideas (the zombies starting to communicate and organize) and kept some of the satirical edge of the first three. The last couple have felt like GA Romero’s Cash-in of the Dead… funny, since they barely played theaters (but they look cheap as hell so surely still made a profit for someone).

The O’Flynn gang:

Oh yeah, so a four-man army-deserter group are in search of money (why?), team up with a mysterious teen (who turns out not to be mysterious), and follow an exiled O’Flynn back to the island (of the dead) to look for his twin daughters and fight Muldoon, who’s trying to make the dead learn to eat animals instead of people (why?). At the end, the lesson (told to us in voiceover) is that people fight each other for stupid reasons.

The only shot I really liked:

More than one actor in this was also in Boondock Saints II and the Saw series. Mysterious Teen appeared in Land of the Dead and played Rodrick in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Our beardy hero was also in Land, and I’m pretty sure there’s a plot reference early on to Diary, but any connections to the other films seem like an afterthought. In competition at Venice, either because of that European tendency to fake-appreciate poor American genre flicks, or because they hadn’t seen the finished product when they allowed it in.

Hilarious cartoon explosion-aftermath:

Hilarious cartoon burning-head-used-as-cigarette-lighter:

I didn’t like it much. The handheld aspect makes it seem like it should be “reality,” but a little while in, I gave a big Juno-shrug and decided that it’s not more “real” than Land of the Dead was, just more annoyingly shot. That’s when you gotta sit back, admit that you’re watching a trashy movie, and enjoy it for what it is.

Rather than waste any more time on this one, here’s a confused and hastily-written email I sent to PG:

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I re-read the article (was actually in Film Comment) and they call the movie brilliant without saying why. Film people think that the confused subtext about media people excuses everything else. Gives them license to say it’s a “brilliant vision, an important work, a masterpiece, though obviously flawed”. It’s real cool to champion a genre movie, makes you sound like you know what’s what, as opposed to those high-minded losers who sit around talking about jean renoir and citizen kane. And it’s especially cool to praise Romero since he has the reputation of being an important and gifted filmmaker in a typically ignored genre and has the good fortune of having been Belatedly Discovered in the academic community (sometime between “bruiser” and “Land of the dead”). Therefore, in the eyes-wide-shut way of seeing things, any new film he releases can automatically be called a masterpiece without any need for justification.

Usual thoughts that arise in this situation (“Maybe eyes wide shut IS a masterpiece and I just don’t understand it yet? Time will tell!”) don’t seem to apply here, as DiaryOTD will only get less relevant over time, and unlike EWS it does not have hidden layers of obscure meaning, it splays itself right out on the dissection table for the viewer to feast on its brains. I’ve heard two things from Romero interviews… 1) He is a big fan of SHAUN of the dead and 2) He is pondering an immediate sequel to Diary, possibly re-using the girl-narrator character-actor. It’s easy to find comedy elements in previous DEAD movies, but nothing as outright nutty as that mute amish farmer segment. You can groan in pain at that segment but I found it pretty funny and exciting, and I read the Professor as a comic caricature (which ruins the whole “this is a documentary of something which is really happening” feel), and see a different kind of movie here. ARE romero’s thoughts on the media confused, or is the movie-in-the-movie confused because it is looking through the eyes of two people… the obsessive and immature male media/filmmaker and his girlfriend who never agreed with his way of doing things, and so is editing against his intentions.

Anyway, reason I brought up Romero’s sequel comment and the comedy aspect is because I am going to go ahead and say that Diary is Part One of a new Dead series. They’re not numbered so I can say whatever I want. LAND is part 4 of the original, and the final part to date. If there’s a Diary Part 2 it’ll only confirm this.

Unrelated: Professor reminds me of Mark Borchardt’s actor friend… you know the one… Thee ACTOR. And that guy was a “real” person. But of course, he was on camera, and always knew when he was on camera… so the Professor can actually be seen as realistic, a cross between that playing-it-for-the-cameras american-movie fellow and the Bob Odenkirk blustery prof caricature.

Whatever I was gonna write when I started this email is now forgotten, as was the point I was gonna make on “diary” since I went off on tangents and there’s rock music in my head and I crave pizza.