George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead Review
The sixth film from George A. Romero shows a major improvement over some other zombie films be lesser directors. I’m a fan of zombie films, and Romero is the master when it comes to zombies. You can’t have a zombie film without Romero’s stamp in there. It’s a true notion and something that is considerably better than European fast zombies, Ozploitation cannibal zombies, and dare I say 28 Days Later speed metal zombies.
This film came out in 2005 and watching it today it’s really a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve been bogged down recently with modern horror films and their attempts at horror with lack of gore. Gore is an important element for me when a film is Rated R. If a rated R film comes across my desk it had better be good overall in terms of brutality. Seriously, brutality is an important thing when considering horror, and while the 70’s and 80’s ushered in a bit of T&A, it doesn’t make it the standard for today’s films. That’s not to say that you can’t have a scary film with no gore, as proven by “Hardy Candy”. However, when your name is George Romero you better have some gore effects and Tom Savini if possible.
Land of the Dead delivers with one hell of a punch early on. It fights hard to showcase a horrific, post apocalyptic scenario and mixes it with a bit of old school horror and terror. The gore effects are well executed, creating that genre blur that you need, and while I can totally tell that there are gore effects done in CG, I still appreciate the use of it. It’s not as obvious as Midnight Meat Train. Tom Savini shows up in a great cameo eating the flesh of a human, which creates some sick applause inside all of us horror fans.
The look and feel of this film is grainy at times, it’s dark at times, and the lighting effects aren’t quite there. I’m not sure what I’m looking at sometimes, which is something that causes hard camera swerves and sick gore effects. However, these are muted at times when it doesn’t need to be, and I’m wondering if that’s a studio insert or something. There’s no reason why there should be a quick censor immediately after a zombie is eating intestinal parts. But it’s there. The musical cues are right on, and this film as a whole is a completed film.
The storyline in this film has a Y stuck right on it after some gore and blood effects in the opening moments. We move towards a more serious film with a more serious event unfolding. Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo play off each other in such a great way that it creates a sense of cement in terms of acting prowess. Acting prowess is a key factor in developing modern horror film, above just straight to dvd fare. I liked the way attention to subtlety of lighting, looks, smiles, reactions and more. However, these are also the downsides at times.
Is Land of the Dead Scary: No.
I’m not scared by this film, but there are moments that could scare. The amount of time it takes to set up the meat of this story is a bit lacking. The middle of the road moments really felt out of place. However, the strengths are lying within the hidden meanings behind the story line. The dichotomy of rich to poor, alive and dead is so well placed. The juxtaposition of zombies working together and humans falling apart when forced to work together is definitely something that many people might miss.
The fact that the rich continue to live in nice apartments, saved from the outside world is just an amazing piece of political meaning. It makes sense on so many different levels, which is not easily found in a lot of modern fare.
George A. Romero is the king of zombies, but this film is not the best of his work. It ends somewhere along the way and doesn’t really put itself together once it breaks to the credits. It really pulls the rug from under you, and leaves the characters with their own fates, but after doing a lot of thinking, I am satisfied with the ending overall. I’m conflicted about this film, although I enjoyed it, and I think many of the fans are split down the middle as well. I recommend watching Land of the Dead, it’s going to be a classic, just give it time.
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