I’ve seen many reviews and discussions on Romero’s “Dead” series that refer to it as a trilogy. This is most certainly not the case as we can see with Romero’s Land of the Dead and the two movies that follow it. I’m going to be honest in saying for awhile I thought it was only a trilogy, but in 2005, Romero released Land of the Dead after over a decade of zombie less films.
Years after the events of the first film, humanity has been almost completely over run by the undead, and even worse, they’re evolving. A large outpost of survivors has been set up in Pittsburgh with the city’s ruler Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) set up a high class refuge called “Fiddler’s Green” where the upper class get to live and the lower class has to rot on the streets. All classes dissolve and become zombie bait when thousands of evolved undead storm the gates of the city with a small group of supply gatherers to help defend the city.
At first, I was very unimpressed by this movie. It just didn’t feel like a Romero zombie movie. It was how it was filmed and the famous actors like Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo instead of B actors and unknowns were kind of distracting. As the movie went on, however, I started getting more and more into the classic Romero satire, awesome gore effects, and the constant barrage of the undead made me smile ear to eat, and next thing I knew, I was having a blast.
This is the best acted of the entire “Dead” series, and for good reason. There is major talent at work here. The legendary Dennis Hopper steals the show as a slimy capitalist businessman who is all about the upper class. John Leguizamo also is good and is definitely the most interesting character of the entire movie, and arguably the entire series. Simon Baker is a good leading man, although there is nothing impressive to speak of. Robert Joy also gives a fine performance as the deformed dim wit with great aim, Charlie.
Romero really just pushes everything to the next level with this movie, without losing any of the satire. When this film was released, it was the most expensive “Dead” movie in the series. You can expect to see lots of explosions, bigger guns, and lots of gore. This works well, but at the same time I kind of liked the simple look of the other films with the spurts of blood and gore. There’s carnage at every turn in this movie.
The satire in this movie is timeless and is on par with the consumerism jabbing in Dawn of the Dead. This time, Land of the Dead focuses on the separation of the upper and lower class and the devastating effects. The rich are the villains in this film and the poor are the victims of their power. While the upper class gets to live in the comfort of Fiddler’s Green, the poor are left to die on the streets. This isn’t at all an exaggeration. The poor are dying on the streets while the rich sit idly by.
Land of the Dead is certainly a step up from Day of the Dead. It is gorier, has better characters, and is more sure of itself in terms of its satire. I was pretty nervous when it first started, but after the first 20 minutes it really picked up and became a pleasant surprise. While it doesn’t quite stand up to Dawn of the Dead, it certainly is a step up from the relatively weak chris installment. Check out Land of the Dead.
We’re not done yet, folks. Stay tuned for my next blog for Romero’s “Dead” series, Diary of the Dead.