Halloween Horror Movie Month: Land of the Dead (2005)


Yes, zombies are still freaky even if you can get away from them just by speed-walking.

A new society has been built by a handful of enterprising, ruthless opportunists who live in the towers of a skyscraper, high above the hard-scrabble existence on the streets below. But outside the city walls, an army of the dead is evolving. Inside, anarchy is on the rise and the zombies are about to take over.

In case you have been living under a rock since 1968, or just don’t know that much about horror films, George A. Romero is usually the only guy you can associate with zombies. The guy loves them, treats them with care, and always has the best things to say about them, even if they are only chomping people alive the whole time. However, it’s seems a bit strange that Romero would actually even be needed in today’s day and age of “the fast zombie”, but rest assured, this guy proves us wrong once again and shows us exactly why he and “the slow zombie” are always needed for the horror genre.

Romero, no matter what he’s working with, always has a ball with his stories and that’s abundantly clear in this flick. In my opinion, the film did take a bit too slow to start-up, but once it got moving, damn, did it ever get moving! Even though he keeps his zombies slow and stupid, Romero still shows that he is able to change with the times in a way and give us the blood, gore, and guts we need to be fully-satisfied with a Romero zombie-flick, and even though not all of the effects here are done naturally, they still look very, very good and will have plenty people probably going, “ewwwwww”. That’s what’s awesome about Romero flicks is how every movie always stacks-up on the action and gore, no matter how much of it is in good-taste or not because when you’re dealing with horror, there really isn’t anything that’s in good taste. It’s either in bad-taste or bad-taste. Yes, they are two different things.

However, no Romero flick would be complete with some ample observations about the world he sees through his own four-eyes, and it still works in 21st Century. Romero gets away with his social-satire a lot in by showing us how our culture and society, is a man-eat-man world where it’s all about who’s the bigger dog on-top, as apposed to who’s the guy that can fight the longest and put the most heart in. This satire isn’t as witty or subtle as some of his other flicks, but it’s still used here to good-effect and also allows Romero to have a bunch of fun with his humorous side as well. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be able to look a belly button stud the same way again.

The problem with Romero, and where most of his films seem to fail in, are actually having scripts that make you want to hear these people talk regardless of how fun and wild the action is. That’s exactly the case we get here as almost everybody in this flick talks as if they just came out of 4th-grade and all want to sound tough and cool while the zombies are attacking. Seriously, some lines just made me laugh my ass off and others made me roll my eyes just by how hard they tried to actually be funny. The one character that annoyed me despite his simple character conventions, was Robert Joy as Charlie. Right from the start when this guy shows up, you know Romero’s going to try his damn near hardest to make him the comedic-relief that always cracks us up in the most serious of times, but in reality, just annoys the hell out of us and sort of makes us wish he would just get eaten-up already. Once you see the character for yourself, you’ll realize I’m a dick but everything that came out of this guy’s mouth bothered me and I just wanted him away with.

As for everybody else, well, they’re all pretty lame too. Simon Baker under-plays his role as our hero, Riley, and just seemed a bit too detached for me to even care about him one-bit. Also, the guy gets all of these hit-TV shows but never really shows me exactly what he’s got to offer when it comes to the big, dramatic moments. Maybe there are some Simon Baker fans out there who can prove me wrong, but for now, I still remain unimpressed by what this guy’s got to show-off. Asia Argento is smokin’ hot as the bad-girl, Slack, and probably would have had me hate her if it wasn’t for her extremely good-looks that caught my eye just about every time. She’s nothing special either, in terms of acting, but damn does she look good.

The only two cast-members in this film worth recommending are the only two that seem like they actually give a shit about this junky-script. Dennis Hopper seems like he is having an absolute ball as the rich, wealthy, and highly-corrupt piece trash known as Kaufman, and you know what, so was I. Hopper has always been a favorite of mine and he can portray “oily” unlike anybody else and it’s still a shame that the guy isn’t with us today because he could still be bringing out a-hole roles like this nowadays. Then, there’s John Leguizamo who plays Cholo, and has the most energy out of everybody here. Leguizamo, no matter what crap he does, (and oh trust me, there’s a lot of crap he does) always seems like he’s on-fire and can’t be put-out. That’s exactly what we have here with him as Cholo, a guy that’s mean and despicable, but also pretty cool to watch in how he keeps his word with everything and kills those others who don’t keep theirs. Once again, nice showcase for two performers that always give 110% with every role they have, it’s just a shame that their talents are sort of wasted on a crap-script like this. No offense George, you’re still the man.

Consensus: Land of the Dead may not be anything new or original when it comes to the zombie-genre, but still features George Romero in top-form playing around with the zombies he loves by giving us all the blood, guts, gore, action, and chills that we need to fully be satisfied this Halloween season.

7/10=Rental!!

9 comments

  1. Land of the Dead is great as a late night B-movie, watching with some friends.
    I remember when I first watched it on the sci-fi channel, I had a ball. Especially with how intelligent the zombies have gotten – shooting guns, breaking down doors and even swimming!

    R.I.P Dennis Hopper

  2. You know Romero jumped back into the Zombie parade of films and I’ve seen most of his newer Z-films but I can’t distinguish one from the other. I’ll watch ’em and enjoy them but they seem to have little impact anymore.

    • This was his last recent zombie he made that’s been worth remembering. All of the other ones haven’t done anything and just went by without anybody really caring for them.

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