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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

Teen Critics on Diary of the Dead

Teen Critics

I want to introduce you to something new here on the Movie Blog -- Teen Critics. That's right, I will be working with a group of students taking a Film and Lit class at Mount Miguel High School, and having them post reviews on a regular basis. I'm very excited about this opportunity for a number of reasons. First of all, I think these are a great group of students and I enjoy hearing their opinions. Plus, those opinions come from a very different place than my own and that makes for a livlier discussion. Second, I have always felt that the great thing about public broadcasting is the diversity of voices, and hearing from a younger generation about the pop entertainment that they consume so ravenously is a point of view that's worth checking out. And finally, I feel that the best thing we can do for the next generation of filmgoers is to get them thinking critically about what they see. So I hope that writing these reviews will help this group of students learn to view film more critically, and that by example they may encourage others their age to look at film from a more thougtful perspective. That being said, this is not going to be a dry academic exercise. This is all about movies so there's definitely room for fun. For out first Teen Critics outing, I took them to see George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead (playing exclusively at AMC Palm Promenade Theaters). So here for the first time -- drum roll please -- are the Teen Critics sounding off on the undead. I am including five reviews here, and short bios of the students participating. In the future, each reviewer will post his or her review separately. And just to prove that I haven't tried to influence their opinions, you will notice that a few of them disagree with my own reaction to Romero's latest zombie outing. I hope you will both enjoy their perspectives and encourage their efforts.

Betty Jo Tucker
February 19, 2008 at 02:04 PM
What a great project! I really enjoyed reading these perceptive teen reviews. Keep up the good work.


Larry Zeiger from San Diego
February 19, 2008 at 06:07 PM
Reviews are terrific - what a great concept! These critics should have their own TV/radio show!!! Congratulations and can't wait to read more. -Larry Zeiger

Peggy Crabtree from Lemon Grove
February 19, 2008 at 06:20 PM
Very insightful commentary on the movies from the voices of those who are the target audience for many of today's films. Kudos to Beth Accomando for a wonderful idea and to the teen contributors who have a unique and valuable perspective.

Jackie Naah
February 19, 2008 at 08:58 PM
Great reviews, I am so glad to see young writers get the chance to express themselves. Thank you for providing such a forum. Great idea!

Marianne Santelli
February 19, 2008 at 10:12 PM
I stumbled on this site while I was searching for places my students could read other young adults' writing. What a wonderful! way for young adults to demonstrate their true abilities at writing when they have the opportunity to write with purpose and relevance and interest ! And someone willing to open up a venu! They've done a great job and so have you! I enjoyed reading their reviews even though I do not enjoy horror movies. I can't wait to have my students read these reviews and see how to well these young critics have summarized movies by using facts and information. Kudos! Regards, Marianne Santelli


Sylvie Schweig from East Greenbush, NY
February 21, 2008 at 02:30 PM
Great addition to a public broadcasting blog! Enjoyed reading the student reviews which were well-written and insightful.

February 23, 2008 at 06:38 AM
Wow, I heard some of my friends were doing Teen Reviews, I just didn't know how good they were! Everyone is so insightful! You guys are great, keep it up! -Megan Palmer

Justin Ward from Phoenix, AZ
February 24, 2008 at 05:43 AM
I'm disappointed this didn't probe Romero's "Youtube generation" theme. I would've been very interested to read how the youth felt about Romero's view of their generation. As it stands, I didn't feel these particular reviews were any more insightful than the zillions of teenage user reviews on IMDB & Amazon. There's much more potential to be explored. That said, anyone who takes her students to see a Romero film has to be the coolest high school teacher in existence!

Beth Accomando from San Diego
February 25, 2008 at 06:27 AM
Justin, This was the Teen Critics first outing and first reviews so I agree there could have been more discussion of certain aspects of the film. But I think they will improve with experience and as they gain confidence. This is a work in progress and I hope to see changes as they write more and get feedback. Thanks for your comments. Maybe I can get the Teen Critics to respond.

Tony & Eric from San Diego
February 25, 2008 at 10:08 PM
I, Tony, feel that the "Youtube generation," as you call it, wasn't covered by myself or others very well in these reviews. This was our first movie to review and I myself hope to get better at covering more, especially themes that effect my so called generation. To be clear Romero's use of youtube and our own "media" network we set up to tell our version of whats going on really exists. I myself felt this was an accurate portrayal of us now. I can say that I'm one to check into youtube now and then to see whats going on in the world. Not that I dont trust my media but its our voices telling these stories and there not going through teleprompters or censors. I, Eric, feel that one should give a little leeway to our first reviews. There's a reason people train for jobs and, just as with the jobs, us amateur critics still need more experience. As with the other "zillions of reviews," nothing states that you have to take our word as law or read our reviews. Have a nice day.

Justin Ward from Phoenix, AZ
February 26, 2008 at 04:09 AM
To Beth & Teen Critics, I apologize if I sounded grouchy or negative in my original comment, I have myself to blame for that. As a former film student and lifelong film buff, the last thing I want to do is discourage anyone in pursuit of film. Let me rephrase without sounding like a total grouch. I've been a fan of George A Romero and zombie films since late adolescence, I'm in my mid-20's now. I've been reading a lot of interviews with Romero about 'Diary', including the one Beth published online Feb 15th ( As much as I agree with his critiques on our internet culture, I wonder if he's going a bit overboard by saying if Hitler & Jim Jones were alive today they'd be bloggers. Even when spoken in jest, it strikes me as an unnecessarily alarmist attitude. Especially considering that Myspace was used as a major promotional tool for Diary of the Dead ( So, if I can make myself sound positive, I think Teen Critics is the ideal group to respond to the questions that Romero poises, since you're more in touch with this world than aging establishment critics like Rex Reed & Roger Ebert. Sincerely, Justin

Beth Accomando from San Diego
February 26, 2008 at 04:24 PM
Justin, You didn't sound like a grouch but I appreciate the extended comment. I actually don't think Romero's film was as critical of the blogosphere as Romero himself was in his comments. I don't think he necessarily regards it as evil. From talking with him I think his attitude was more along the lines of the mainstream media is a known factor -- he already distrusts it and knows how it can manipulate the truth-- but the web is still something of an unknown factor and we need to be more cautious in how we view it. I wouldn't call him an alarmist on this point but he's definitely suggesting we not immediately embrace the web as the place to find the truth. Thanks for your comments and I hope you continue to check in on the Teen Critics to see how they evolve.

Candace Kavanagh
February 26, 2008 at 10:59 PM
Justin, I agree with Beth, you did not sound grouchy, maybe a little cokmabtive, but that's it, and we do appreciate your second comment. As for Romero's blogging theory, he actually sends a pro blogging message during the film, something about mainstream media being a crock and blogging being the only thing you can trust. As for his comments on Hitler and jim jones, I think he meant to use those figures more of neautral models of people have caused such a great impact with words, I don't think he was connecting any of their specific purpose with blogging itself. I've been a pretty big fan of Romero too, I mean as nig as someone whose only seen his recent films, can be, lime the music video he made with Iggy and Peaches one of my favorite videos. thanks again, Candace Kavanagh, teen critic

Nicholas Page from MMHS
September 25, 2008 at 06:31 PM
Well I found that this movie is easily the best romero film since "Dawn of the Dead" (1978). It was a great rollercoaster ride into total awesome. Now I know it had its "shakey camerawork" and "sub par acting" but I felt that these people reacted realisticly to the situation. They were adapting to the situation like an average college student would, rather than being an unstopable force. I agree with these critics as they have brought up many pros and cons about this flick. Being a die hard Romero fan I am horribly biased but some moments I didnt like about this film was how limited the film was. In Romeros past films the ghouls would often swarm the heroes, crumbling under sheer overwhelming numbers, but Diary of the Dead was lacking these encounters, with only one or two zombies on screen at a time. Overall this was a great movie and you students did a spectacular job reviewing these.