Land of the Dead


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"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 years."










Land of the Dead
The Masked Reviewer

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 movie.

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, claustrophobic sensation.

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 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 looks good. 

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 years. 

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.

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