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Overall Rating

Awesome: 27.22%
Worth A Look48.89%
Average: 10%
Pretty Bad: 6.11%
Total Crap: 7.78%

15 reviews, 90 user ratings

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Land of the Dead
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by Erik Childress

"Itís The Summer Of George!"
5 stars

2004 saw three zombie films hit the multiplexes; a remake, a sequel and a satire. Zack Snyderís Dawn of the Dead quieted a lot of angry fans concerned with traipsing all over one of the best horror films ever made by turning it into a hyperkinetic action film that paid its respects while becoming its own entity. Shaun of the Dead was more than just a riotous parody of the genre and Resident Evil: Apocalypse was needed to remind us how incompetency threatens to fan out the very life that George Romero birthed. Romero is now back, 20 years since the last of his zombie epics, to show the kids how itís done. Bleeding plenty of action and gore for the loyal faithful, Romeroís satiric cultural slant has never been as finely tuned and elevates just another chapter into something deeper and scarier.

From Night to Dawn to Day to TODAY, weíre into societyís full-on integration within the zombie plague. Big corporations now often safe havens for those who can afford it while the poor are left to huddle in the streets as a potential smorgasbord. The in-betweens are the working class, doing jobs for the powers-that-be including gathering supplies and taking out the walking dead that get in their paths. Riley (Simon Baker) and Cholo (John Leguizamo) are the leaders of one such group, scurrying the streets of Pittsburgh in a full-stocked ass-kickiní ATV known as Dead Reckoning.

Cholo has dreams of the good life, but is rebuked by the self-empowered Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) who sits atop the livable mall known as Fiddlerís Green. With few options left in a zombie-occupied territory, Cholo and his gang steal Dead Reckoning and threaten action if their demands arenít meant. This soon turns into a Pat Garrett/Billy the Kid situation with Riley being recruited to hunt down his friend with the help of his scarred, but loyal friend, Charlie (Robert Joy) and prostitute Slack (Asia Argento, whose legendary father produced and helped score 1978's Dawn), both whom he rescued from certain death. Itís a great setup for zombie battles and tested loyalties, all while the flesheaters have continued to learn and begin a slow march to the fenced-off city center.

Itís all part of the multi-evolution that Romero began back in 1968. Like the humans that they once were, the zombies began as mindless eating machines preying upon the countryside with only one desire. In Dawn of the Dead they began to remember who they were and expanded their search. Land of the Dead flows almost seamlessly from Day of the Dead where the military had sectioned off portions of the city and came to the frightening, yet hesitant realization that some of their enemies were finding the ability to think. The undead were rolling with the times and Romeroís hammer-and-nail approach is more welcome than ever.

It started as an allegory on racism and minority prejudice (including women), elevated into a satire of a culture cannibalized by consumerism an into an interesting (if less successful) statement of the military becoming the end-all, be-all brains of our nationís operation. Land of the Dead obviously feeds on the paranoia of post-9/11 America. And in case you doubt that, look for the shot of the plane crashed through a building or Kaufmanís pledge that ďwe do not negotiate with terrorists.Ē Romero doesnít mince his images on the class system. The haves make their own power and the have-nots are left to the wolves. The outright cynicism in Romeroís thinking has not only turned him to partially siding with the plight of the zombies but also suggesting that it may be too late to solve the terror of us feeding off one another with anything but a few rockets. Or moving to Canada.

No villains are worth their salt without equally rootable heroes and that stock rises thanks to the likes of terrific work from Baker, Joy and Leguizamo, who gets the filmís best line when staring his fate right in the eye. Hopper does a superb job in not turning Kaufman into just another frothing villain drunk with power. We have already been programmed to hate a character like this the moment he appears on the screen with his distraction promises to the presumed brainless masses. He is an instrument of hate not just for liberals or blue staters; heís the bully with all the best toys determined to pick us last for the big game. Although Iím sure many audiences will revel in the moment heís abandoned with nothing but a few bags of money and his car filling up with the very fuel thatís no doubt been a precious commodity to him and his minions. He's a symbol just as the film's literal fireworks are; a symbol of our independence used to keep the walking mindless in line in times of crisis until they become intelligent enough to ignore the pretty lights and take action.

Our heroes are never quite in as much peril as the Richie Riches of this food court-morphed culture. That may make for less tension, but thereís also a cockeyed optimism that being on the side of right can produce its own blanket of safety; whether physically or morally. Land of the Dead is so tight and moves so swiftly (at only 93 mins) that its hard to fault Romeroís technique for getting us in, entertaining the hell out of us, making his point and getting us out in near record time. True Romero fans will have no problems forgiving any shortcomings or comparisons you can attach to it for they are given precisely what they are paying for; a blood-and-guts spectacular, one of the classic zombie kills of all time (watch out for that head), a priceless Tom Savini cameo and an answer to the criticism that Day of the Dead was all talk and no action. For the rest of us, Romero has taken action once again and we should embrace, or at the very least listen to what heís saying in-between the carnage, before we become part of it.

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originally posted: 06/24/05 14:00:36
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell decent the original is still the best 3 stars
10/13/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Through numerous sequels and rip-offs, Romero manages to keep the corpses fresh. 4 stars
12/27/09 art THE 1932 film WHITE ZOMBIE was the best walking dead FILM! 2 stars
8/31/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Better than Diary, not as good as the first three. 4 stars
12/19/08 Craig D. There's a lot more here than a political subtext, Danny. Go watch your Transformers DVD. 4 stars
8/13/08 Shaun Wallner Bloody Awesome!!! 5 stars
6/11/07 Danny.G Ignore the Romero grovelling reviews, this is TV movie stuff.."oh wow, a political subtext" 1 stars
6/07/07 fools♫gold I loved "28 Days Later" much greater (a film I underrated), but this is cool. 5 stars
12/12/06 Angela Saunders Surprisingly better than expected. I actually loved it! 4 stars
11/24/06 David Pollastrini good gore with a little irony. 5 stars
8/25/06 havthat You'll never look at belly button piercings the same way. 4 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist One of the best zombie films since Night of the Living Dead!!!!! 5 stars
7/17/06 mark fun to watch-romero needs to complete this, however, this seems like a build-up 5 stars
7/15/06 drydock54321 lots of gore 4 stars
5/08/06 omar it was ok. the violence was awesome though 4 stars
3/18/06 MP Bartley Lack of doomy finality (unlike the others) makes this seem like a very good tv movie. 4 stars
3/07/06 matt mediocre, the ending was a huge letdown 3 stars
2/25/06 ali profasion 5 stars
2/21/06 Agent Sands Not scary at all. It is action-packed, though, and Dennis Hopper is fucking hilarious. 4 stars
1/14/06 ALDO Feel incomplete....bad character development. 2 stars
1/05/06 Indrid Cold The complete waste of Dennis Hopper is one of this stinker's less eggregious crimes. 2 stars
12/29/05 chris f a very good film 4 stars
12/21/05 JJ now i know how star wars fans felt when they saw phantom menace. romero should be ashamed 1 stars
12/16/05 JeromeBosch P.S. all that money and they couldnít buy a helicopter? 3 stars
12/13/05 Jeanne Pittsburgh it really kind of sucks 1 stars
12/12/05 gray could have been better 4 stars
11/29/05 JeromeBosch Prompted me to take another look at 'DAWN' and appreciate that film even more. 3 stars
11/27/05 Lord Durvok II Romero + big, ostentatious budget = crap 2 stars
11/23/05 Guy Pretty lame all around. 1 stars
11/19/05 Sam Justus A super enjoyable zombie flick by George A. Romero, the man that started it all. 5 stars
11/15/05 Danny Disappointment. Gore for the sake of gore. Disgusting and not EVEN scary. 1 stars
11/05/05 MAttIFUL Painfully stupid! Dawn of the Dead was so much better... god that was awful 1 stars
10/30/05 K. Sear I don't know, maybe I expectected too much? 3 stars
10/27/05 deadwiz Gotta love zombies. Not romeros best, but it will do. 4 stars
10/26/05 Richard Brandt Who can see zombies being tortured without being reminded of Abu Ghraib? 4 stars
10/26/05 Linda Richardson "Zombies, man they creep me out" sums it up for me. 5 stars
10/25/05 chris fox (the god) good movie worth watching 4 stars
10/20/05 tatum Quite the unpleasant little gore FX resume film, twenty years too late 1 stars
10/19/05 othree sucksallass, Dawn of the Dead 2004 was better, Resident Evil2 was even better, *bleh* 1 stars
10/17/05 Vince Very enjoyable zombie flick by the man who started it all 4 stars
10/14/05 conker_99 Land of the dead was one of the best movies i have ever seen. But it was a little to short. 5 stars
10/14/05 carmen fratto He never explained how the zomie's got there in the first place . 3 stars
10/01/05 Phil Interesting idea........ but no! 3 stars
9/28/05 alvin crap***great effect make up, but the story is borng n no excitement at all, sucks*** 2 stars
9/22/05 Fritz Romero's brand of zombie-ism is old and tired. 2 stars
8/25/05 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne A fairly ineffectual and banal-retentive effort at making a horror flick 2 stars
8/19/05 ES An ok movie, cool premise, but the zombies are as unscary as can be 3 stars
8/17/05 alice very average, never suprised me 3 stars
8/13/05 Mark Louis Baumgart So-so FX & make-up. A heavy-handed, illogical & pretentious social message movie. *Yawn* 1 stars
8/10/05 John excellent. anyone who disagrees is wrong. 5 stars
8/06/05 Pierre Masterpiece! 5 stars
8/02/05 Ric Good cinematography, but that's about it. 1 stars
7/21/05 Shena Johnson It was an okay movie, but I think it can be better.Use your heart. 3 stars
7/11/05 the untrained eye sorry guys, disappointed 3 stars
7/10/05 asina better than any of that wes craven crap. 5 stars
7/09/05 ROY L. CAIN Nobody scares the hell out of you like Mr. Romero ! 5 stars
7/08/05 KingNeutron Some good "jump" moments, good FX, and good acting all around. 4 stars
7/08/05 lucas completely reinvents the genre of horror movies 5 stars
7/07/05 Dave Pretty Good movie even if its not up to par with Dawn or Night. 4 stars
7/07/05 Cedric It's AMAZING, go see it! 5 stars
7/06/05 Ole Man Bourbon Completely and utterly asinine. Looks like it was written by a 4th grader. 1 stars
7/04/05 ajay not really a gore fan, so this movie was laugh-out-loud bad. 2 stars
7/04/05 ART This film has the underlying theme of class struggle. 4 stars
7/03/05 Joe This movie sucks trust me, dont trust the high ratings on this movie 1 stars
7/03/05 Malcolm this was whack 2 stars
7/02/05 Eric Rollins Glossy revisionism - totally unnecessary 2 stars
7/01/05 eleni the unrated dvd will be the REAL version. still good, though. 4 stars
6/30/05 Caiphn Disappointed, pretty crazy gore however. The last bit of dialogue extreme cheese. 3 stars
6/30/05 John Gruber Social Commentary on political situation in USA... with zombies! 5 stars
6/30/05 Gray Could have been better 4 stars
6/30/05 John A Zombie film done right - great! 5 stars
6/29/05 dolemite Pretty sweet gore. I'd give it 5 just for that 5 stars
6/28/05 Kankasaur Zombie films satirizing social decay have been reborn in an era of ivory tower arrogance 5 stars
6/27/05 carlos r guzman Romero still has it(1978's Dawn still best), a bit hurried; still great - DVD maybe better 4 stars
6/27/05 Agent Sands The best American movie I've seen in the theater in 2005. No gratuitous formulaic subplots. 5 stars
6/26/05 vagile Better than worth a look if not really quite awesome. 5 stars
6/26/05 Sarah Reece I really did love this film. It's a shame that the movie did go by in a hurry. 5 stars
6/26/05 Lord Jiggy Swiftian satire it is not...easy shots at Bush...oh, so original (NOT). 2 stars
6/26/05 Darren Shea Satisfying, if a bit obvious and heavy-handed. Better acting than usual for a Romero flick. 4 stars
6/26/05 malcolm everything a zombie movie is supposed to be. take a lesson copycats. 4 stars
6/26/05 Uncle Phucker Would like to see MORE of the good stuff. Hopefully a DVD will reveal this. Worst of the 4. 4 stars
6/26/05 DennyRoss Zombie fans (like me) rejoice in spite of the cliche dialogue from the main characters. 4 stars
6/26/05 asina romero's swan song is also his masterpiece. 5 stars
6/25/05 K. Sear The weakest one yet, but still not a terrible film. 4 stars
6/25/05 maysin willie aames It's no DAWN, it's not even DAY but it's still better than the imitators... 4 stars
6/24/05 Trenchtown Awesome, Except Dennis Hopper Did his Water World Character all over again 4 stars
6/23/05 David Hollands Note quite Dawn, but well-acted, with excellent tonal balance, and wonderful direction. 5 stars
6/19/05 payback Finally, this is how you make a zombie flick 5 stars
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  24-Jun-2005 (R)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2005



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