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If you've read this blog at all, you know I'm a huge zombie fan. Of course it all started with Night of the Living Dead, zombie movies I mean, not my obsession. Although I do remember a childhood viewing of Night that freaked the hell out of me. My zombie fetish actually started with Return of the Living Dead, I must have watched it 20 times when I was younger, and it's still my all-time-favorite. It's the film that should be credited with the first "fast-zombies", not 28 Days Later, as everyone wrongly says.

But I should be talking about the old, lumbering, shoot-em-in-the-head zombies, that George A. Romero invented and made famous in Night, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead. Each of which, I've seen numerous times and love for different reasons. I love how Night sets up the new zombie invasion, we're just learning about and dealing with them for the first time. In Dawn, humanity is fighting and losing the war against the zombies. In Day, the zombies have won, and we're stuck with one of humanities last outcrops, trying to figure out a way to turn back the tide.

I saw Land of the Dead in theaters a few years back and wasn't totally impressed. Mostly because I didn't totally understand where the film fit into the series. Running across the film in the DVD discount bin, I couldn't pass up completing my collection. Watching it a second time, I actually appreciated the film much more. It's still nowhere near perfect, but it continues the story much better than I first believed, and Romero's idea of having the zombies learn and organize made sense. It's the next step in their evolution, and they're ending the war with the living for good.

Romero has never been a filmmaker that's impressed me with his style. He has a classic technique, letting story dictate the pace, the shots, and the look of the film. It's just enough to bring you into his messed-up-world. With Land of the Dead he really lets the actors carry the film, something which most horror films don't do, and they're mostly up to the challenge, offering up some fully realized characters. Simon Baker as Riley, wants to make a life outside of the city, away from the corruption that has overtaken what's left of society. John Leguizamo, as Cholo, is out for himself, always looking for a score, and wants to join the elite. Dennis Hopper, has some fun as the evil leader Kaufman, he gets a chance to chew some cheesy zombie dialog. The always entertaining Asia Argento, is a girl, who is simply trying to survive in this dog-eat-dog world.

I've always liked how Romero focuses on a few main characters among the world's chaos, it brings it to a much more personal level. With Land, he also focuses on a hero-zombie, the one that's smarter than the rest, that leads them into battle, that can figure out problems and seems to have feelings. It's a new wrinkle to the zombie genre; something he started with Bub in Day, but here you get a much better sense of where this world is headed. Although I enjoyed Land of the Dead more this time around, I'd still consider it the weakest entry into his zombie series. (I haven't seen Diary of the Dead yet.) But it's an interesting take on the genre, that probably won't be appreciated beyond anyone that enjoys zombie films. - Grade: C+
(Seen on 7/5/08)

1 Response to Land of the Dead:

  1. I actually own the entire collection of Romero's DEAD series on DVD and have yet to see DIARY, which I heard was worse than LAND. But honestly, I don't think LAND is that bad of a film at all. Sure, it's not a classic or as great as NIGHT, DAWN, and DAY are. But I think compared to other zombie and horror films in modern times, it's definitely near the top of the heap. I plan on reviewing this one before the year is out. Keep your eyes open for it. Great review, man.