Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Great documentary

Author: craig-winger from Salt Lake City
26 January 2011

Another great documentary from Sundance.

If you liked - Hoop Dreams, American Movie, Brother's Keeper, King of Kong, Young@Heart, In the Shadow of the Moon then SEE THIS MOVIE.

Well made and entertaining. This movie will have your attention throughout. The presentation is meticulous. It is obvious this was a labor of love for all involved.

This is what Sundance is all about. First time director and self financed. Five years in the making. The director even taught himself how to write film soundtrack so that he could score the movie on his own.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Thoroughly Compelling - and Intriguing

Author: AMichaelL from California, United States
2 February 2012

I found this documentary to be an interesting investigation into a very obscure mystery. The toynbee tiles were well known to me before this documentary, and their message was also clear to me. The thing which always made me wonder was 'why'. Why put this message on random tiles in seemingly random places? To a lesser extent, I also was curious if the person involved was either insane or enlightened. This movie does a great job of showing a thorough investigation into the mystery, and without giving anything away, I can say they did an amazing job, and they do determine who the original tiler (most likely) is.

I am kind of curious how the investigators make a living, as it seems as though they spent an inordinate amount of time on this. Either way, props to them - because without their efforts we would ALL be in the dark about this very intriguing idea.

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16 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A true modern mystery

Author: tom-mcchesney
14 February 2011

In today's world true mysteries are hard to come by. It seems now if you can't figure out something you simply hop on a computer and do a Google search to find the answer. For example, recently I was stumped by a plague of fruit flies in my house and couldn't seem to get rid of the pests. So after about 3 days of annoyance I jumped on my laptop and typed "how to get rid of fruit flies?" and as easy as that there was recipe to create your own homemade fruit fly trap using a glass, paper and some juice. Mystery solved! In Resurrect Dead the film-makers were stuck in actual mystery that could not be solved with a simple internet search. They dived into a mystery that seemed impossible to solve. For years they were dumbstruck to how the existence of these tiles had ended up on the streets of many metropolitan areas in the eastern seaboard of the US. The documentary brilliantly paces itself into all the years of research, dead ends, and small glimpses of possibilities that shouldn't be ruled out. For me I was enthralled with their logical approach and deduction of where these tiles were coming from and what their message meant. In a way the documentary really motivated me have a mystery to solve in my life. Or an overarching goal that drives me to find what is the truth in this situation? Today it's easy just to go through the normal phases of life and just exist in the norm of what the world says is a good life. But I think we all have unique opportunities that sometimes come in the form of mysteries that only we can solve!

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Just my sort of documentary

Author: okulo from United Kingdom
3 February 2012

I wish I had some knowledge of the Toynbee tiles before I had watched this, simply so that I could have felt more of the emotions that the filmmakers must have felt. But even knowing nothing, I was completely consumed by the subject and although part way through I started to wonder if I actually wanted to know the answers to the questions being asked, the end satisfied both my curiosity and my reservations.

It would be difficult to describe without giving too much away but I experienced an exquisite moment when my mind slipped half a second ahead of the narrative as a penny dropped momentarily before the narrator spoke. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the film.

I'm sure that this will not suit many people but for me it was wonderful and inspiring.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating Documentary as a Mystery is Unraveled

Author: Larry Silverstein from United States
6 October 2012

This fascinating documentary, directed by Jon Foy, examines the mystery of what is called the Toynbee tiles. Since the 1980's 130 plaques , or tiles, have appeared on various city streets which all have the same cryptic message--"Toynbee Idea In Movie 2001 Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter.

Although many have been spotted in the Philadelphia area, others were located in the Midwest, New York City, even a few in South America. Some were even spotted on the highway and one just outside the Lincoln Tunnel in New York.

Who's leaving these mysterious tiles and what do they mean? Three young men, Justin Duerr, Colin Smith, and Steve Weinik were all separately investigating this mystery when they decided to join forces after a number of years and see if they could come up with the answer.

To me the fun and interest was in the "peeling of the onion", so to speak, as they took several key clues and tried to thoroughly examine them. One clue would lead to another and open up possibilities while some would lead to dead ends.

Finally, through hard nosed detective work they began to unravel the mystery. I find this type of out of the mainstream documentary riveting and rewarding.

If you've ever seen and enjoyed "The History Detectives" on PBS you may very like this film as well.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (2011)

Author: SnakesOnAnAfricanPlain from United Kingdom
26 February 2012

Resurrect Dead is one of those fascinating documentaries that highlights a mystery you really should have heard of. In Philadelphia and all over North/South America, strange tiles have been popping up for around 20 years. These tiles have a mysterious message and show up in the middle of the road where it would be almost impossible to place. Nobody seems to know who or why these messages are being left. A group of people have gradually over the years come together and investigated the mystery. Resurrect Dead is such a spooky little film. Not in your usual horror film kind of way, but just in the way the mystery unravels. They find out more and more, and to truly discuss it would also be to ruin it. As a documentary it is far from professional. Often the way talking heads were framed distracted me from what was being said. Its biggest success comes in its ending, where it gives us enough of an answer, but still leaves enough mystery.

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Some editing issues, but a good watch nonetheless.

Author: torbi-2 from LA
29 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The mystery is interesting—I've seen the tiles in NY and wondered what they could mean but they were so obscure that I would usually forget about them as soon as I walked past. These 3 amateur detectives wanted the real story so they spent years tracking down the slimmest threads...which miraculously lead them where they wanted to go. My issue with this doc were all editing choices—the music and video fading out every 30 seconds after someone finished a thought got obnoxious very quickly. The inclusion of Justin's juvenile lapses and his love of pigeons was placed in oddly, and overall I thought it could have been laid out better. I also wish they talked to someone about the psychology of why someone would do this and how exactly the tiles were made (are they ceramic? rubber? how do they stick and become basically embedded in the roadway?) I wasn't as fussed by the "inconclusive ending" as many were; I actually appreciate them leaving the tiler in his privacy. But! It's a very interesting mystery and a fun watch.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

How to build to a climax that never comes...and not leave your audience wanting more

Author: TheDocHierarchy from United Kingdom
12 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The "Toynbee Tiles" are a series of 130 known plaques, predominantly found in North American cities and first sighted in the early 1980s, that propagate the following message (see picture attached):


The ambiguity of the message and the absence of ownership has long-fuelled an active online community contributing sightings and information that they hope one day will lead to enlightenment. Justin Duerr, the protagonist of Foy's film, is one such fan. First discovering a Toynbee Tile on his mail route, he has spent much of his adult life documenting new sightings and following leads to unravel the mystery.

The online consensus, revealed and substantiated by Duerr, is that the message refers to a society named the 'Minority Association', operating in the early 80s, who advocated historian Arnold Toynbee's belief that 'dead molecules' could be rearranged to bring the dead back to life. Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' is referenced in part due to the use of this mechanism to bring its astronauts back to consciousness in space. The content of the actual message is soon shown however to pale in significance to the intrigue surrounding its creator. Added text found around certain individual tiles points to a troubled, paranoid mind, obsessed with conspiracies (the USSR, NBC, the Mafia to name but three) and fearful for his own life.

Duerr's background is almost as intriguing as that of the artist he is attempting to track down. Growing up in a converted barn, he had two passions; art and pigeons. His art teacher at school, who doted over his every stroke but wished for him to conform, served only to push him to drop out aged 16. Finding himself squatting in the city, Justin needed an occupation; a job as a courier was merely a means to an end, the pursuit of the Toynbee Tiles mystery quickly becomes his real life's work.

With the help of the artist's own archival footage and Foy's cartoon recreations, Duerr traces the arc of his prior investigation to establish what is known about the person responsible for the cryptic tiles. Enlisting the support of two other Toynbee Tile aficionados, long-haired, forum moderator Colin Smith and photographer Steve Weinik, their research narrows the field of 'suspects' down until they are left with just one - the introverted, paranoid owner of a boarded-up home in suburban Philadelphia - nicknamed 'the Birdman' by local kids for his menagerie - and known only to leave in the early hours. With the architect of this decade- long mystery unwilling to come to the door, Foy and Duerr are clearly left with a difficult decision; do they harass the man and hope for a confession, or grant him his wish and leave him alone - with the mystery half-solved but lacking crucial confirmation?

As it happens, much of the film's criticism (it rates only 60-odd percent on RT) is found in the supposed-inconclusiveness of Foy's chosen ending. However, I think it would be a mistake to view the pursuit of the Toynbee Tile creator as for the purpose and resolution of the audience's intrigue; it is much more personal to Duerr. If the man who has spent over a decade unravelling the mystery is content that he has his answer and ready to move on, who are we to demand he digs further?

Perhaps some mysteries are best left as just that?

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I know the truth.... Includes spoilers!

Author: keb arbn from United States
23 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This includes spoilers watch the movie first its very interesting. My theory is the tiler is really the tall thin guy, thats why they can never show him and leave it as a concluded film but undiscovered. Hes into that type of scene and knows exactly how they're made and speaks as if hes made several of them from personal experience. Many parts seem acted out and the makers are clearly hiding something. If they tiler wanted to stay hidden why would he post his mailing address in public for people to find?

This is the Q&A which answers all questions. The government put a chip in my brain... I will be resurrected on mars in the afterlife! Everything said above is a silly little lie and...

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4 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

See Wikipedia

Author: jdesando from United States
7 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Stanley Kubrick's 2001 provides the catalyst for a decades-long planting of tiles in streets all over the US and South America with the above message. The documentary Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles is director, writer John Foy's attempt to chronicle Justin Duerr's search for the author of these tiles and their meaning.

The film is not as compelling as it might be as Wikipedia already lists the perpetrator, whom Duerr identifies after a process of elimination to be Philadelphian Severino "Sevy" Verna, aka James Morasco. He purportedly placed the tiles through a hole in the floor of his car while broadcasting a message via short wave radio about his theories.

Thus the suspense is a surface affectation with the film really being about the process of identifying the artist of the tiles.

Actually, the deconstruction of the tiles' meaning is more interesting than the hunt for the author, the meaning resting squarely on Toynbee's theory that the body's molecules after death could be reassembled on Jupiter as Kubrick had hinted in his denouement imagery.

In addition to 2001, a 1983 short play by David Mamet, 4 A.M., depicts a Larry King-like radio host taking a call about 2001, Toynbee, and plans to populate Jupiter with those reconstituted molecules. Mamet has been flattered thinking the tiles were inspired by the play.

Too many talking-head sequences mask the lack of evidence beyond the tiles themselves. Visits to the alleged perpetrator's hood are cold leads that only hint at disclosure and certainly add little to the hunt. Artfully moody original music by Foy lends atmosphere to what ends up an amusing account of two nerds searching out another nerd.

I have enough of that experience visiting Com-Con and Star Trek conventions.

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