Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Diary of the Dead and Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

Tonight is going to be a double movie night as I need to stay up as late as I can to adjust to going on a night watch starting tomorrow.  The first movie of my marathon is going to be Diary of the Dead.  I know that the zombie aficionados out there might scoff at the way I skip right to one of the worst of the Romero movies.  For the unschooled zombie viewers "Romero" is George A. Romero the director the original, groundbreaking film Night of the Living Dead.  He then went on to create the iconic Dawn of the Dead and the lesser Day of the Dead.  More recently with the revival of the genre in 2005 he directed Land of the Dead (swing and a miss) and then Diary of the Dead.  Last year he released Survival of the Dead…not even worth mentioning.  Despite what many would consider a slew of terrible movies George still holds his head high as the father of the Zombie movie.  He is the inspiration for every zombie movie in the last 50 years so give him some credit.  Diary of the Dead came in the wake of the Blare Witch 1st person craze.  The story follows a group of film students around as the zombie apocalypse begins.
I chose Flying Dog’s Gonzo Imperial Porter as the beer to pair with this movie.  It’s a powerhouse of a beer that is always in my fridge.  Strangely enough it’s the only really stand out beer that I’ve tried by Flying Dog.  Don’t get me wrong I give them a lot of credit for producing the wide range of styles that they do.  I just don’t think any of them are as knock me down awesome as Gonzo.  It’s worth buying a sampler to say you tried them but none will be the life changing beer that Gonzo is.  I’m serious!  This 9.2% abv with 82 IBU monster changed the way I drink beer.  I never really drank dark beer until I took my first sip of Gonzo.  It's the Fight Club of beers.
The first scene of Diary of the Dead was brilliant.  It was the raw footage of a news clip where some of the first dead people turn into zombies.  It's the perfect grey setting with very real zombies sprinkled with just a dash of racism.  An man kills his wife and teenage son before eventually killing himself.  As the reporter is telling the story the camera man notices one of the bodies starts moving.  The next thing you know paramedics are doing karate, lots of gunfire, and one face getting ripped off..  Well done George.  Now when I heard this was going to be a first person style movie my stomach turned.  Not another headache causing shaky screen mess!  Another movie where instead of an adequate budget and trained actors they will just shake the camara and run arround in the dark.  YES!!!!!  Luckily it was not.  Because the people shooting the film were film students they had professional cameras.  A breath of fresh air.  This movie was the first zombie film to be shot in this way and for that I tip my hat.  Now I only wish that the acting didn’t seem like it was done by disseased monkeys.  There were a lot of scenes that seemed forced an overacted.  I'm sorry the scene where the girl from Texas is chased through the woods is terrible.  The guy keeps filming instead of helping even though he's the only one there.  Then he yells "CUT!" to distract the zombie (cheap cheap cheap).  When the girl  clubs the zombie and knocks it out she turns to the camera fixes her hair and says "Don't mess with Texas."  Really?  Did we forget we're filming a real movie.  A movie that is going to be shown in movie theaters.  This scene made me so angry I thought about cashing in my Roth so i could buy a plane ticket, fly to California, meet this acress, and thrown salt in her eyes.   But alas i'm lazy.

My favorite scene in this movie is when the students run into the zombie fighting mute Amish guy.  This bad ass carries around a little chalk board to communicate and throws cartoon style dynamite at the zombies.  How can you have a zombie movie in the country part of Pennsylvania without the Amish?  Personally I think that would be an idea for an entire movie.  Then again the Amish aren’t known for their knowledge of weapons or ability to defend themselves.
I poured the beer into my 12 oz snifter glass.  It’s shaped perfectly for angling the aroma to your nose.  And what an aroma it has.  If you ever find yourself sitting around wondering what Cascade hops smell like go ahead and open a bottle of Gonzo.  The aroma is incredibly hoppy.  More than most IPA’s I’ve had.  I'm suprised this beer isn't green.  But don’t think this is going to be a super bitter hop bomb.  It’s got malt packed on top of malt.  Thick beautiful black malt.  Clean bready malt.  You can almost chew this beer it’s so malty (the word malt was just used 4 times in 4 sentences to stress the maltieness) .  This beer is light on the bittering hops but high in flavor and aroma giving it a very unique taste.  As the beer warms in the glass it becomes more and more complex.  Each sip releases notes of chocolate and coffee with heavy roasted flavors.  When tasting the beer it’s important to swirl every few sips in order to oxygenate the beer and release those hop aromas.  The beer is perfectly balanced yet forceful and unique.  This beer is to Budweiser what Nirvana was to 80’s hair metal.
If the art on the bottle seems familiar to you....it should.  It's an illustration by Ralph Steadman!  He's the one that made Hunter S. Thompson's novels into wild and often offensive pictures.  The two were a pair that covered many stories together.  The owned of Flying Dog Brewery used to be a neighbor and was a good friend of Hunter S. Thompson.  This beer is a tribute to Hunter and in many ways is a piece of him.  It's wild, bold, and unique.  If i were to die and have a beer brewed in my tribute it would be this one.  Damn you Hunter.
This movie isn’t terrifying, it’s not overly gory, and it’s not insightful or groundbreaking.  It just IS?  It’s entertaining enough.  There's supposed to be this threat of social satire that focuses on the human rubberneckers.  It’s interesting.  People filming the horror instead of acting or living.  People now go to concerts and watch the entire thing through their cell phone screen.  We’re living behind lenses.  Slow down to check out car accidents and youtube horrific events and then forward them to our friends.  We need to record things and when it comes to violence or horror we need to see it.  At the same time there’s a limit.  There’s a point at which I have to believe people would spring into action during a crisis, or at least they would be so enthralled by the horror that they would be forced to live in it and not just watch it behind a camera.  That’s where this movie went too far.  I understand that if in every scene that a zombie attacked everyone put down their cameras the movie would be really short and wouldn't contain any zombie scenes.  But it still just makes things feel cheap.
I don’t want to end on the negative though.  The movie overall was enjoyable and the beer is fantastic.  I learned a lot from this movie.  When the zombie apocalypse happens (and it is inevitable) I won’t go to a hospital (Day of the Dead (remake), Planet Terror, Diary of the Dead) and I won’t go to Amish country (the Amish arn't fighters).  And most of all I won’t spend the entire time filming the end of days with a cam corder.
The Beer:
Aroma – 10/10
Appearance – 5/5
Taste – 9/10
Palate – 5/5
 Overall – 19/20
Total = 48/50

The Movie:
Production – 4/5
Plot – 4/5
Gore – 3/5
Zombies – 4/5
 Overall – 4/5


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