"Land of the Dead" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

10/30/2010 Posted by Admin

"Land of the Dead"

 DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

(Originally published 2005)

George Romero's "Land of the Dead" is a lark. In a cinematic climate littered with sequels, prequels and remakes, the film continues the “Dead” series without feeling as if Romero only came to cash in.

The movie deepens the director’s vision and moves the story forward with ease, giving new purpose to the zombies Romero conceived in his 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead,” while offering fans plenty of gore in the process. The film is its own monster, eschewing the blistering, apocalyptic action so popular in today's horror films for measured chaos that lingers.

What the film proves is that there still are fresh ideas to be found in the familiar rot of Romero's world. Shrewdly, the director remains firm in his belief that it takes more than just ropes of dripping entrails and severed heads to make a horror movie satisfying. While those elements certainly are welcome and they do flourish here--some might never where a bellybutton ring again--the film has other targets to explore, starting with society.

Shooting his film in the blues of a corpse--natch--Romero casts Dennis Hopper as Kaufman, an evil investor whose grand tower, Fiddler’s Green, is located smack in the midst of a fortified Pittsburgh. For those lucky and wealthy enough to be chosen to live there, this is the place to be, especially since just beyond the river that frames it are the walking dead.

The zombies are just as you remember them--still hot for human flesh. More important is that they have apparently stumbled down a Darwinian path that finds them evolving with the ability to reason. It’s that twist that not only makes them more dangerous (and funny), but which allows Romero to broaden the social, philosophical and political themes that have laced through his franchise from the beginning.

In “Night,” he tackled issues of race, prejudice and family. In “Dawn,” he took his zombies to the mall and lampooned consumerism. Later, in 1985’s “Day of the Dead,” he skewered science and the military. Now, in "Land," he attacks America’s current love affair with land and real estate.

The film’s action revolves around those working for Kaufman and those working against him, a band of nicely drawn renegades (John Leguizamo, Simon Baker, Asia Argento, Robert Joy) forced to fight each other and the undead in scenes that lead to a showdown with Kaufman.

Across the board, the acting is good, particularly from Leguizamo and Joy, but even from lead zombie Big Daddy (Eugene Clark), a hulking beast whose idea it is to cross the river to Fiddler’s Green, where fresh meat awaits.

Audiences should thank him for it. The moment Big Daddy gets his feet wet and bulldozes forward, the movie flips into overdrive, with thousands of zombies trailing after him and into the film’s fiery climax. Those interested in seeing what happens there should bring their appetite.

Grade: B

View the trailer for "Land of the Dead" here:

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