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Zombies are cinematic paydirt. "28 Days Later" revitalized the genre, followed by a string of imitators, including films like the underrated "Dead & Breakfast", and the hilarious "Shaun of the Dead". And, while the appeal is high, Hollywood continues to crank out two to three zombie flicks each and every year. Don't expect that to continue for too much longer. There is only so much you can do with the walking dead, and just about every idea has been used. To close out this latest cinematic trend, the master of the zombie film returns with "Land of the Dead", the final installment of his historic 'dead' series. It all began with the 1960's classic "Night of the Living Dead", which revolutionized the horror genre. It continued in the late 1970's and early 1980's with "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead". That is when the zombie film lost its steam. Flash forward twenty years or so and we have seen a remake of "Dawn of the Dead", and George A. Romero is nearly forgotten as a director. That is what makes "Land of the Dead" so important. For starters, it is the perfect finale for one of the greatest horror series of all time, and secondly, it marks the return of one of the most creative filmmakers in the history of film.
In "Land of the Dead", the world is still begin overrun with the walking dead, those slow and laborious predators who live only to eat human flesh. However, what everyone has been fearing has finally come to pass -- the zombies are evolving and can now think for themselves. This makes them a little trickier to deal with, especially since they can even learn how to use guns and start fires. Simon Baker stars as Riley, the leader of an Army unit whose sole mission is to retrieve supplies from the outside world and bring them back to the city, a former metropolis now serving as the final outpost for humans, surrounded by water and electric fences to keep the zombies out. Dennis Hopper co-stars as Kaufman, the mayor of the city who rules with an iron hand does, basically, whatever he wants. As the zombies start finding ways into the city, a struggle develops between Kaufman, Riley, and a disgruntled former soldier named Cholo (John Leguizamo). This struggle, along with the slow and steady descent of the zombies into the city, finish out the remainder of the film. Along the way we are presented with the typical George A. Romero zombie movie treats, along with some interested additions to the zombie genre.
The film itself is pure Romero -- what else would you expect? The gore is top notch, as always, and even surpasses all of the other entries into the series. We see zombies eating every part of the human body, along with many, many zombie brains hitting the streets. These days, this kind of gore is not nearly as shocking as it was when "Dawn of the Dead" was released into theatres originally. We also see the addition of a few little facts. For starters, zombies cannot keep their eyes off fireworks, which comes in handy when humans want to move around them. This was a nice little touch, and though it came out of nowhere, it helps add to the fun of "Land of the Dead". And, believe me when I say -- this is a fun film. George A. Romero went all out with this final installment, and it shows. He had the budget to do, basically, whatever he wanted and it shows on screen. This is a polished and more coherent zombie film than we are use to seeing. The make-up effects and creature effects are marvelous, and seeing Tom Savini decked out in all his zombie glory was a real treat. "Land of the Dead" is certainly the "Lawrence of Arabia" of zombie movies. Romero has created his ultimate masterpiece.
As far as performances are concerned, Romero has never really concerned himself with littering his films with named celebrities. This is probably his most accessible film to date. While Simon Baker is not a household name, Dennis Hopper is certainly well known, and brings with him a zany eccentricity that adds to the film. John Leguizamo also holds quite a bit of esteem in the acting community for always tackling a variety of roles, this one adding to his resume. It was nice to see some trained actors taking on this material and making it work. Of course, Dennis Hopper steals the show, as usual, with his bizarre 1960's hippie swagger and his delivery that only works for him. "Zombies...they creep me out" might become one of those quotes right up there with, "They're coming to get you, Barbara!" The most interesting character for me was Charlie, the slow minded sharp shooter played by Robert Joy. Now, that is an interesting and likable character.
What else can I say about a film that I adored so much? I hope that this film marks the decline of zombie films in the months to come. I want the genre to go out on top. "Land of the Dead" is pretty much the best of the recent bunch, and anyone who thinks they can top George A. Romero is totally insane. I think Romero purposely chose this time to release the film because he was tired of seeing so many zombie films released each year. And, though the film did not do astonishing business on its opening weekend, fans of the series will keep going back, and the DVD life of the film will last forever. "Land of the Dead" is one of the most entertaining, bloody, and fantastically engaging horror films of the year, and the best zombie film since the original series was released. "28 Days Later" was remarkable, but it lacked the passion and the zeal of a George A. Romero picture. You know you're in good hands with the man referred to as 'the master of horror'.
After a twenty year absence, God (aka George Romero) makes his triumphant return to the genre that made him famous... the zombie film. Twenty years in the making and after countless scripts, numerous deals that fell through, and setback after setback, the movie was released to the general public tonight. Was the wait worth it? Well, I could end this review right here by saying "Fuck Yes", but I suppose that some viewers may want some actual insight.
Review by Chad
Added: June 25, 2005
The storyline takes place "some time later" after the events of Day Of The Dead. A man by the name of Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) has created a city that is completely barricaded from the zombie threat, and everyone lives safely inside these premises. The rich have their place living inside a huge skyscraper which is named Fiddler's Green, while everyone else has to make do on the streets below. In this world, some people make their living by looting supplies from the nearby zombie-infested towns and bringing them back to Fiddler's Green, where Kaufman takes what the rich need and hands the rest out to the common-folk below. Sound like a certain country, anyone? Anywho, these scavengers use a monstrous, armor-plated and weapon-stacked vehicle known as Dead Reckoning to make their way into and out of these towns, and things are going pretty nicely. That is, however, until Cholo (John Leguizamo) saves up enough money to move into Fiddler's Green and live the high life with the rest of the rich folks, but is rejected (basically) due to his "poor" status. Naturally, this pisses him off, so he steals Dead Reckoning and threatens to blow up the city unless he receives fifty-million dollars from Kaufman himself. Since Kaufman "doesn't deal with terrorists", he sends Riley (Simon Baker), Slack (Asia Argento) and Charlie (Robert Joy) out to recover the vehicle... however, these three aren't exactly loyal to Kaufman either. Meanwhile, with the aid of a somewhat intelligent zombie known as Big Daddy (Eugene Clark), the zombies are pulling together in an effort to overthrow the town. Problems arise when they begin to succeed and the city's only defense (Dead Reckoning) is in the hands of the "terrorist" who intends to use it to blow up the city.
After the movie ended, there seemed to be a mixed reaction amongst the crowd in attendance. I heard such comments as "Resident Evil was so much better" and "this was stupid... zombies can't think!", but the one comment that really ticked me off came from a kid who was, ironically enough, wearing a Dawn Of The Dead shirt. He said, and although I'm paraphrasing here, I'm sure you'll get the gist - "Romero ruined this. The reason why the first three were so great was because there was no storyline, only zombie action." There was a good bit of social commentary in each of the movies found in Romero's Holy Trilogy, and while some were more subtle than others, this one was a bit more in-your-face. I'll admit that much, and yes, the humans were given plenty of time to develop. However, this is the norm in each of his movies. If you thought that those movies were mindless zombie action with nothing else going for them, then you're likely to be sadly disappointed by this entry. The characters are each given ample time to develop, and in my view, this works out wonderfully for the story as a whole - you actually care about their well-being, and when one dies off at the hands of a zombie, you actually feel for them. This also lends an element of unpredictability to the movie... since each character had so much time to develop, there was never any sense of "this is the main character, these guys are the zombie fodder." Fans of the originals who didn't get into them just because of their status in the horror world will know exactly what to expect here, and it's nothing but goodness.
When the cast for this movie was announced, I was quite worried about the outcome. Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo (yes, The Pest himself), and a cast of others who I hadn't heard of prior to this movie making up the leading roles didn't sound promising, but boy, did it ever work out. Leguizamo was the biggest shocker of the film. Yes, the man is funny, but as proved by the flop known as The Pest, his material can't remain funny throughout a feature-length film. His humor seemed to be the only thing going for him, as his acting skills weren't exactly great in the movies I've seen him in; however, in this film, Romero pulls one incredible performance from him. This could definitely be the movie that puts him back into some major Hollywood movies... he was that damned good. Dennis Hopper was the other stand-out, in my eyes. He plays the evil corporate bigwig role to perfection, and truly makes the audience hate him for his actions as the movie progresses. However, that's the thing with this movie, and with Romero's zombie films in general. Nobody is made out to be "the good guy" or "the bad guy"... everyone has different motivations and goals, and while some characters are assholes, nobody is clearly in the wrong or in the right. Once again, this makes things all the more realistic. While the rest of the cast was highly enjoyable with not one bad performance to be found, these two were definitely the highlights of the film. Keep an eye out for cameos by both Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (of Shaun Of The Dead fame), as well as an enjoyable bit by Tom Savini reprising his biker role from Dawn.
Finally, there's the gore effects that are found here. The Holy Trilogy is infamous for its highly realistic, very gruesome blood-and-guts scenes, and this entry was no exception. I was expecting some decent gore from the theatrical version and a much better DVD down the road, but my word... this one was absolutely brutal, and I can not see how some of this stuff got past the ratings board. There's the typical zombie head-shots complete with spraying blood and brains, gut-munching, and far too many humans being literally torn apart to keep count of. From what I've heard, the unrated DVD will feature an additional six minutes of footage... whatever was cut out must have been extremely over the top, as even the theatrical release is a gorehounds wet-dream.
My only complaint about this experience - and yes, it's an experience, not just a movie - is the fact that we can no longer refer to Romero's zombie series as The Holy Trilogy. This one fits right in there with the rest and is just as good, so it will now be known as... The Holy Four? The Fantastic Four? None of those sound quite as good as The Holy Trilogy, but damned if it wasn't that good. Forget Batman, Star Wars, War Of The Worlds and King Kong... this is your movie of the year. 10/10.
- added 10/23/2005, 03:34 PM
I don't think it had the groundbreaking,
legendary status that the first three had. But
it's more than worthy of the 'Dead' and Romero
names, and kills every other horror film made in
the last several years.
- added 12/17/2005, 12:26 PM
this movie gets a 10 from me and places 2nd best
of the tetraology (that means 4 of them, incase
you didn't know). The gore and the feedings were
excellent. A main problem I have is how people
talk about how prepeosturous the story was... how
do they figure? The zombies have been using tools
to solve problems since the first movie (when
Zombie #1 breaks the window with a rock). They've
been trying to relive their lives since the second
movie (the way the zombies were flocking to the
mall because they spent so much time there when
they were alive). And just because one zombie was
smarter than the res (i.e. Big Daddy) people got
all pissy about how he could reason. These are the
same people who came to the theatre with a Day of
the dead shirt on. Bub was smarter than the rest,
he could use a gun, So whats the big deal? This
was an excellent movie. 10/10.
- added 04/24/2007, 11:15 AM
I was a little dissappointed in this one. I was
supposed to be the ultimate we waited 20 years for
the final piece of the puzzle movie and it ujst
wasnt. I was GOOD, and Im always up for a good
zombie flick but less than I was hoping for from
- added 05/14/2008, 02:59 AM
This just might be my favorite of the bunch. Not
too sure, either this or Day of the Dead. I loved
every minute of the movie and wasn't as cheesy as
I thought. In fact, I didn't find it really cheesy
or campy at all. Awesome movie. 10/10
- added 01/22/2009, 12:08 PM
I enjoyed seeing Dennis Hopper as a villain type
guy in this. But this film wasn't all that great,
in my opinion. I had too high expectations, and
don;t get me wrong I was entertained..however..the
ending was fucking retarded. I will give it a 8/10
but being a Romero fan I am biased.
- added 01/22/2009, 12:09 PM
oh yeah, and Asia Argento is so fucking fine...
Bliss From A Dead Embrace
- added 01/30/2009, 02:13 AM
Disappointing on a bunch of levels. I think
humanizing the zombies took away from there scary
nature. I found that whole primitive instinct
driven hunger to be much more scary then a horde
of semi thinking people attacking a fortified
city. Might as well replaced the zombies with
cavemen. The movie has its bright spots and the
cast was great but the story just didn't do it for
- added 03/20/2010, 12:45 AM
Dunno... this just felt out of place with the
rest of Romero's zombie oeuvre... just seemed a
bit too by-the-numbers and Hollywood styled for my
I think that giving the man a bigger
budget is the last thing anyone should do...
He excels at making the most out of very
little... and the addition of known actors only
somehow lessens the sincerity of the narrative.
It just felt more like a Tom Savini flick than a
I wonder if he will ever
manage to capture that raw menace that the
original trilogy had, along with the bizarre
almost light-hearted comedy that snuck its way
into the terrifying proceedings so successfully
with the earlier films... Diary of the Dead only
serves to solidify my fears...
terrible, by any means... but a disappointment.
Rest Easy Soul
- added 07/25/2010, 10:56 AM
I hate this movie. Not because its bad but
because I was tripping on some hard stuff when I
first saw it.. You just don't get over that kind