Director – George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies)
Starring – Simon Baker (The Mentalist, Sex and Death 101), John Leguizamo (Spawn, Kick-Ass 2), and Dennis Hopper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Waterworld)
Release Date – 2005
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 4.5/5
When I was in high school I was already a dedicated horror nerd. Middle school was when I scored the Evil Dead trilogy on DVD and was hooked on horror. I had collected several movies by that point and was an avid member of the Upcoming Horror Movies (UHM) forum posting a couple hundred times a day even when in school. I was addicted and couldn’t get enough.
When I was a senior George A. Romero announced that he was making a new zombie flick which would serve as a follow up to his 1985 classic Day of the Dead. His Dead series is easily my favorite film series and still is. The film was announced as Dead Reckoning but was soon changed to Land of the Dead which is more fitting for the series. When it was released I was able to check it out and when it hit store shelves I ran out at midnight to grab a copy.
Not long ago my friends at Scream Factory released the film on blu. Being the fan of the film and the series I had to review the blu. Thank you Scream Factory for sending this one my way!
**Spoiler Alert**The film pick up sometime during the zombie apocalypse with a walled off city being the hub for human civilization with the rich and power living in a secure building known as Fiddler’s Green and everyone else living in the slums around the building. There is a team of scavengers that go out and loot the surrounding communities for supplies but the undead are no longer mindless mounds of flesh. They are adapting and starting to communicate with each other.
When their supervisor tries to leave town the kingpin of Fiddler’s Green has his car taken from him and forces him to hunt down a former colleague who has stolen a million dollar zombie killing machine known as Dead Reckoning. Things take a dark turn when the undead force their way into the city forcing mass panic and mayhem while they search for the rig that could be their salvation.**Spoiler Alert**
When Land of the Dead was released it was greeted with mostly negative feedback. At least from what I could see. Most of the people I’ve seen in horror groups really hated the film but I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Deadbut it was fun.
The acting in this one is great…for the most part. Simon Baker has never been a name I’ve respected in the world of cinema and this film is no exception. He has a hard time conveying emotions and this role is no exception. His character is flat and is hard to get behind. With that being said, John Leguizamo, Dennis Harper, Asia Argento, and Robert Joy fucking killed it.
My favorite performances belongs to Leguizamo and Argento who brought some memorable characters to life. In fact, both characters they portray are some of my favorite in all the Dead films.
The story for this one has more to do than just survival which is common among all the Dead films. The social commentary stands out in this one more than any other Dead film with the war between the upper and lower class. This is the main point throughout the entire film with the working to poor class the front line of defense against the zombie horde while the rich and powerful live locked away in their tower.
Most of the scenes are dedicated to character development and story delivery but there was several moments that felt out of place for a Romero flick. The preacher zombie with the retractable head and the introduction of the Samoan soldier was comic like which the series is not known for. Several silly moments makes this one feel as if it doesn’t fit in the series.
Finally, the film has some amazing, and not so amazing effects. The on screen kills are fantastic with amazing practical effects but there is several instances where they opted to use CGI which does not look that well. Several scenes are almost ruined due to this and poorly constructed they are.
Overall, Land of the Dead is a great movie especially when you compare it to the new wave of zombie film trying to clone The Walking Dead. As fun as it is to watch it just doesn’t feel like another entry in Romero’s Dead series. I recommend it but don’t expect to catch that amazing feeling Night, Dawn, and Day gives you.
Cholo’s Reckoning – Interview
Charlie’s Story – Interview
The Pillsbury Factor – Interview
Four of the Apocalypse – Interview
Undead Again with Greg Nicotero
Scenes of Carnage
Bringing the Dead to Life featurette
Scream Tests Casting Calls
Bringing the Storyboards to Life
A Day with the Living Dead
When Shaun met George