The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Land of the Dead (2005)

It's amazing to me that it ha taken so long for someone to finance a new zombie film by George A. Romero.  He created the entire genre with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, back in the 60's, an instant classic so disturbing that Reader's Digest ran an article basicaly blaming it for the downfall of Western Civilization.  He followed years later with DAWN OF THE DEAD,  which was less frightening, with an almost satirical edge, and nose-dived with DAY OF THE DEAD, which was in most folk's view, a disappointing work.  Now he's back with LAND OF THE DEAD, and folks, it just flat-out smokes.  There is such a difference between Romero and all of his imitators. there HAVE been other decent zombie films (Dead Alive, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, etc.) but Romero has a vision of our consumerist, racist, classist society devouring itself that is unlike anything anyone else has touched upon, and it is in full flower here.  Basically, it is some unspecified number of years after the dead have risen to devour the living.  Most of society has fallen, but there are a few outcamps, barricaded cities, where life goes on.  Mercenaries raid outlying towns in armored trucks, seeking resources.  but there are problems--the dead are evolving, gaining intelligence and a sense of purpose (somehting hinted at in DAY. And for those complaining about 'Tool using Zombies"--they've been using tools since the original "Night."  Remember the little girl and the trowel?  No, you probably deliberately forgot that, and I can understand why.  Yuck.)  At any rate, the Upper Class in this armed paradise, "Fiddler's Green", is predictably white and rich, and they need the underclass as a buffer zone between them and the zombies.  When one of the Mercs (an excellent John Leguizamo.  Asia Argento is also outstanding) gets tired of his flunky status and hijacks "Dead Reckoning" the armored tank, the fun really begins.
Gory, sexy, funny, thought-provoking, suspenseful...but not really a horror movie, more an adventure film set in a universe of horrors, LAND OF THE DEAD is a bit abrput at the end--but set up perfectly for a sequel that Universal better get off their duff and make.  It has the makings of the very best work of this important American fantacist. The Master is back, and he's got a lot on his mind. 

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