Opening 1 Sep 2005
Director George Romero’s fourth installment in his Night of the Living Dead series opens in world that has been taken over by zombies. The living, definitely the minority in this film, live in a fenced-up section of the city. Within this "living" section of town, the privileged elite live in a beautiful tower called the Fiddler’s Green, whereas the rest of the population live amongst the city ruins which surround it. It is the last night on the job for Riley (Simon Baker), leader of a special team whose mission is to patrol outside the boundaries of the "living" section of the city and slaughter zombies. It is also Cholo’s (John Leguizamo), Riley’s second in command, last night. While Riley simply wants to run away to Canada, Cholo has saved up enough money to buy himself a place in the coveted Fiddler’s Green. When Cholo is denied residency due to him not being the right "type" by the founder of the establishment, Kaufmann (Dennis Hopper), Cholo starts to make threats. Kaufmann unsuccessfully tries to get rid of Cholo, and Cholo in turn steals his former team’s super zombie hunting missile launching tank, Dead Reckoning, and threatens to destroy the Fiddler’s Green unless Kaufman pays him a ridiculous ransom. It suddenly becomes Riley’s job to apprehend Cholo, reclaim Dead Reckoning, and save humanity.
Land of the Dead is an hour-and-a-half of pure over-the-top gore. It could also easily have been named a thousand and one ways for a zombie to attack the living, or a thousand and one ways to blow the head off a zombie. This film is definitely not for those with weak stomachs. In between all the scenes of zombies eating the living alive, there is a bit of a story. But unless the viewer has seen the entire series, he/she feels as if they’ve gone through some sort of time warp, and waits the entire film for an explanation which never comes. The entire film is so ridiculous, as in horrible rather than horror, that it is funny rather than scary. Add to that several one-liners that are equally horrible, and the viewer finds himself grimacing throughout most of the film. But underneath all the madness there is an attempt at a message. Land of the Dead is not only a horror flick but also a bizarre but creative political commentary on life in America, post 9/11. So for this highly unusual way of attempting to get message across to the masses alone, this film in my opinion deserves one star. (Shauna Keeley)