Zombies. Who do you think of when
you think zombies? Other than Paris Hilton of course...the
name in zombies is legendary zombie filmmaker, George A. Romero.
The "A" stands for "A guy who invented the zombie movie genre."
His cult classic Night of the Living Dead is...well...a cult
classic. It's been re-made. Dawn of the Dead, the
sequel, was recently remade. The third film, Day of the Dead,
not quite as classic. No one is rushing to remake that one.
But still, it had its moments. Especially if you love the zombie
Land of the Dead made its national premier in Las Vegas,
appropriately enough. The premier included actors in zombie
make-up, walking the red carpet, and moaning. One actor took a
break and played some slots, and the image of a zombie playing slots is
one that you don't see every day, unless you live in (or visit) Vegas.
Anyway, George Romero more or less defined the zombie as its known in
American cinema. Slow, hollow, hungry for flesh, and acting out
vague memories of its past life. What has always set George
Romero's zombie movies apart from other zombie movies is that his films
make some interesting social commentaries. Originally, he'd
planned to release a new Dead movie each decade, but he missed
the 90's. Didn't we all? What happened in the 90's, anyway?
Land of the Dead is much more slick than any of his prior
films. There's a big budget and some recognizable actors.
Universal Studios is involved this time around, and they seem to want to
add the zombie to their horror catalogue of Frankenstein, Dracula, the
Mummy, and the Wolfman. It's nice to see them adding something new
after 60 years. Cutting edge of horror, that's Universal.
The higher production values will definitely pay off for most fans.
Even though George Romero's original films are all excellent, they do
seem kind of quaint and dated compared to the slick re-makes and films
which he inspired (like 28 Days Later or Shaun of the Dead).
The Dead films have never relied on high-tech special effects --
George Romero's zombies would all do their own make-up -- but instead
used good storytelling and pacing to create a creepy, isolated,
George Romero's zombies don't run at you. They keep coming.
They're everywhere. You have to shoot them in the brain, or
they'll get up and come toward you again. It's scary stuff, and
Land of the Dead manages to work in a few good
cat scares, which even startled a seasoned
horror pro like the Masked Reviewer.
The acting is good, with Simon Baker (who you may remember from such
films as...um...maybe LA Confidential?) carrying the film.
Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo (it's not pronounced "lay-GUIZ-amoe")
add just the right amount of quirky coolness, and Asia Agento...she
Without giving away any of the movie, it's difficult to address the
main criticism. Essentially, the political commentary in this film
is a little muddier than in his other movies. But, it's still
there. The setting isn't quite as scary as the other films...the
set-up seems like it would be the scariest of them all, but in practice
it never has the same overwhelming feeling of desperation that made the
other films so great.
There's some humor in the film, but it's more serious than its
predecessors (except, of course, when Dennis Hopper is on screen).
The mix is just right, though, and any zombie-lover worth his or her
salt will be sure to enjoy Land of the Dead.
Some non-aficionados of the genre may look at this movie and think
that it's "just another zombie flick". Not so...George Romero
pushes the genre forward by coming up with new scary twists, interesting
visuals, and statements on society. He should make one every five
Of course, if you don't like zombie movies, this won't be for you.
And, if you prefer splatter movies with fast cuts and running and
screaming, Land of the Dead might not be your blood-soaked cup of
tea. Fans of the other Dead movies will be sure to enjoy
this one, though. And, there's even a bit of nudity!
Expectation from the Title: Mindless zombies go in search of
something to snack on in their unending quest to fulfill their
hunger...after smoking too much pot at a Jerry Garcia concert in 1987.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
It's nice to see people working together, even when those nasty, nasty
creatures are doing horrible things.
The Pros: Big budget George Romero, good acting, good scary
bits, interesting (although sometimes confused) social commentary.
The Cons: Pacing won't appeal to everyone, the messages in the
film aren't clear enough, one plot element is kind of hokey and too
unbelievable (as opposed to just the right amount of unbelievable).
Land of the Dead George Romerro, John
Romero, Denis Hopper, John Leguizammo, Asia Argenta all right here.