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LAND OF THE DEAD (R) (2005)

Universal

Official Site

Director: George A Romero

Producers: Mark Canton, Peter Grunwald

Written by: George A Romero

Cast: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy

Rating:


If you made it through high school English you’ve probably had the significance of the trilogy explained to you more than once. Three self contained works that nonetheless represent a beginning, middle, and end. Examples abound: from The Godfather films to Lord Of The Rings, to the Oedipus plays of Sophocles. The trilogy is standard for dramatic symmetry. Well I say fuck The Trilogy! George A Romero is back with a new installment to his legendary Dead series and I for one couldn’t be happier! All hail the Zombie Quartet!

Of course the series started way back in 1968 with Romero’s landmark horror film Night Of The Living Dead, which led to the superior Dawn Of The Dead and supposedly culminated with the forgettable Day Of The Dead. The success of these films basically invented the modern zombie film as we know it. And while some may sneer very few film artists can be said to have actually created and left so firm an imprint on an entire genre of work, thanks to 28 Days Later and Shaun Of The Dead (both of which owe heavily to Romero) the zombie film is back, and hotter than a downloadable Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie sex tape. (Okay, that’s a wild exaggeration.)

Anyways the film is set sometime after the zombies have conquered the earth. There remains at least one outpost of humanity centered around a luxury apartment complex known as the Green. Like a medieval castle the Haves enjoy the good life within, while the Have-nots make out one way or another down below. One of the reoccurring themes in Romero’s films is that the zombie crisis leaves the survivors’ own humanity degraded. And like any good counter-culture type Romero wants us to have a healthy mistrust of the The Man, especially when The Man is Dennis Hopper.

Modern audiences may find Romero’s film anachronistic in some ways. Not one to jump on trends Romero eschews the running kamikaze zombies for the familiar sleepwalking cannibalized corpses, and it’s true the film doesn’t have quite the punch of Danny Boyle’s jarringly realistic 28 Days Later. Romero is from the old school. He’s clearly learned from masters like Howard Hawks how to develop characters and to keep the action intelligible (though way gorier). In fact entire film, from the relationship dynamic between the put-upon hero Riley (Baker), his sidekick Charlie (Joy), and the heroine Slack (Argento, daughter of famed Italian horror director Dario) to the shootouts can be seen as an homage to Howard Hawks’ westerns.

The film also adds a twist by giving the zombies slightly more intelligence than usual (this is somewhat prefigured in Romero’s earlier films. In fact we’re even given a sort of zombie Spartacus to root for. And as one might expect, Romero finds some grim satire in the zombies’ clash with a barbarous humanity stripped of its thin veil of civilization.

—Edward Rholes

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



none now
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