click to enlarge The Definitive Document of the Dead

The Definitive Document of the Dead (NR)

Synapse Films

For more than 30 years, director Roy Frumkes has been filming, editing and documenting the career of George Romero, the creator of the modern-day zombie aesthetic. With 1968's Night of the Living Dead, Romero transformed zombies from bug-eyed voodoo drones mesmerized by Bela Lugosi into truly terrifying forces of nature. With 1978's Dawn of the Dead, Romero pushed the boundaries of zombie-horror even further, and Frumkes was there to capture it all. Originally conceived as a tool for amateur filmmakers, Document became something bigger, an account of the rise of zombies in pop culture as we know it today. Frumkes followed Romero for the next three decades, celebrating the man's triumphs and lamenting his failures, but creating something so much more than just a behind-the-scenes video. The Definitive Document of the Dead is the end-all be-all of Romero's love affair with the living dead. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge Heaven's Gate

Heaven's Gate (R)

Criterion Collection

Film fans know that most great movies are happy accidents. Similarly, conventional wisdom holds that Michael Cimino's 1980 historical Western Heaven's Gate was an unmitigated disaster. Both so-called truths are more complicated than they sound, and in ways that dovetail beautifully. Cimino's cattle drama, starring Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken and a garnet-tinted, constantly cranking fog machine, debuted at a soul-deadening 216 minutes, was roundly thrashed by critics, and probably led to the collapse of United Artists, a studio that had thrived since 1919. But the director, who's hardly worked since, had won Best Director and Best Picture only a couple years before, for The Deer Hunter. That film wasn't a happy accident; it was infused with Cimino's on-the-edge inner danger and cinematic gusto. And so was Heaven's Gate, as this meticulous Criterion restoration (overseen by Cimino) makes clear. Now, the red mist registers and the class tension feels prescient. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge Snowmageddon

Snowmageddon (PG-13)

Anchor Bay Entertainment

As much flak as SyFy takes for all its monster-hybrid made-for-TV movies, the network is making just as many enviro-horrors that are equally cheesy and worthy of comical derision. The latest to be avalanched on an unsuspecting public is the winter-themed Snowmageddon, which is about an Armageddon-like cataclysm, revolving mostly around snow. (There are also earthquakes and volcanos.) And while most of the time SyFy at least tries to present some sort of science, no matter how dubious, behind a film's premise, with Snowmageddon it obviously no longer cares — the culprit behind these snow-bound shenanigans is an accursed supernatural snow-globe. That must be thrown into a volcano. Or something like that. With above-average special effects for a basic-cable movie and below-average actors, Snowmageddon is a dumb-fun, couch-curling way to waste an afternoon on a cold Colorado, semi-snowmageddon day. — Louis Fowler


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