Friday, September 28, 2012

Land of the Dead

I've been a fan of Romero's Living Dead movies since I first saw the original Night of the Living Dead back when I was a kid. I also remember it freaking the living shit out of me. The sequel, Dawn of the Dead, was filled with cartoonish gore, great storytelling and compelling characters. It was more than just a horror film and I still admire the film to this very day. The second sequel, Day of the Dead, upped the ante on the gore but Romero didn't have enough money to make the movie he wanted and was forced to end the film abruptly. It's the weakest in the (at the time) trilogy, but it was still a good watch.

Now nearly 20 years later comes Romero's newest chapter in the series, Land of the Dead. This time he has the budget, he has some recognizable faces in the cast and he has all the resources needed to make a great zombie film. He succeeded.
Taking place a long time after the events of Day of the Dead, the world has been overrun with the living dead and the remaining humans barricade themselves in small cities run by the rich and powerful. Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) rules over one of these barrier cities and uses the downtrodden to perform duties to keep him comfortable. Riley (Simon Baker), Cholo (John Leguizamo) and Charlie (Robert Joy) are the top go-getters for Kaufman, travelling outside the cities to loot stores and gather supplies for him. While the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor in the barrier cities the living dead are beginning to evolve. One particular zombie (Eugene Clark), who has retained portions of his humanity, organizes a group of zombies using primitive vocal communication and leading by example and plans to take the city.

Romero has the gift of making these zombie films focus not on the zombies, but the human characters dealing with situations that everyone can relate to, as well as stuff we couldn't. We all know what it's like to be passed over for a promotion, not getting respect from your co-workers and feeling like an outsider. That's what the Cholo character is dealing with, played admirably by John Leguizamo. His character snaps and steals the 'Dead Reckoning', an armored tank that the go-getters use when looting, and aims its cannons at the city, threatening to destroy it if he doesn't get what he wants.
We get some political satire in that Dennis Hopper's Kaufman character is like George W. Bush. He has all this money and power, but does nothing with it to help out his fellow man. Plus when Cholo threatens to destroy the city he says "We don't negotiate with terrorists". Sly George, real sly.

The zombie arc is a little far fetched, but it's a fantastical movie and I can deal with it. I just don't think they developed the whole evolved zombie concept enough. Plus the make up the lead zombie, known as Big Daddy, wears was pretty weak.

The acting is pretty good across the board. Simon Baker is decent as the stoic hero who just wants to live his life. John Leguizamo is great as the hotheaded and ambitious Cholo. Asia Argento has two modes, cherubic and whorific. Here she's cherubic to a 'T' and I really ended up liking her character despite her playing a whore. Robert Joy's scarred Charlie character was a little annoying at first and his ticks and deliveries sounded a little off, but he ended up growing on me and I was rooting for him in the end. Dennis Hopper seems a little out of place in the film once in a while, but he won me over as well. Plus he's the only character in ANY of these films that actually referred to the living dead as “zombies”. LOL!
There's plenty of gore, lots of action, one slutty skanky cherubic Italian whore kicking ass (why oh why did she pierce the back of her neck?), some thought provoking situations and another ending that doesn't really satisfy, but will hopefully lead into another sequel.... possibly Highway of the Dead?

I really enjoyed this film and all its faults. It's just good to see Uncle George doing his thing again, and even though he made a studio film it sure doesn't feel like one. Kudos George!

4 out of 5

*written 6/25/05

No comments:

Post a Comment