I remember watching this movie for the first time and just loving every second of it. Land of the Dead is an intelligent, gory, and action-packed zombie movie that’s definitely worth watching. As a fan of zombie movies, I was delighted to finally see what the “land of the dead” might look like. Remember, this is five years before The Walking Dead phenomenon. And one year after Zack Snyder’s remake of the original Dawn of the Dead and Edgar Wright’s masterpiece Shaun of the Dead. The stage was set for the return of the master.
Just to be perfectly clear, Land of the Dead is the first movie in the modern of-the-Dead trilogy. It was followed by Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. Both of these movies are watchable but they just don’t have this dark and juicy atmosphere that this one has. Nor the budget if I might add. Romero used the shit out of the $20 million budget to make sure that this movie looks, feels, and sounds like a zombie blockbuster. Years after the zombie apocalypse, several castle-like cities still stand.
It would seem that humanity has reverted back to the feudal system, with grave consequences. Romero builds upon the ideas he presented in his last movie, Day of the Dead, exploring different aspects of our society in this movie. The social commentary is a bonus to all the post-apocalyptic action so don’t worry, this isn’t some boring affair. The gore is as good as it gets and for the first time, we will have the opportunity to see digital effects in this franchise.
The zombie apocalypse came and went. Those who survived barricaded themselves in huge cities where the rich live even better lives than before. And the poor suffer even more. The lucky ones, ones who have certain skills, usually end up in raiding parties, scavenging the wasteland for resources. The zombies don’t pose much of a threat to them but they seem to be changing. They seem to be getting smarter while the town’s elite is getting more and more careless. A catastrophe is inevitable.
I just loved all the armored vehicles in Land of the Dead. They reminded me of the Mad Max movies only this time there was a real need to make your cars as armored as possible. Another thing I loved was the focus on the working and peasant class in this new system of values. We will be following grunts doing the dirty work and not some high rollers living in their ivory towers. If we ever made it through a zombie apocalypse, this is what would be probably doing. Driving a garbage truck or doing dangerous reconnaissance missions.
I don’t know why I don’t like Simon Baker. Although he’s a good actor, I just think that someone else would be much better for this role. To balance things out, we have John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper. And I don’t need to tell you how happy I was when I saw that my crush, Asia Argento is one of the leads in this movie. Deadly, beautiful, and one hell of an actress, she makes every movie she’s in that much better.
Finally, I want to add that there’s something very Grindhouse about this movie. I could be still under the influence of Planet Terror but the atmosphere and everything else were very similar. Of course, without the comedic aspect. And the world-building is just perfect. In that sense, Land of the Dead reminded me of all those eighties and early nineties post-apocalyptic movies.
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Cast: Asia Argento, Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, Robert Joy, Simon Baker, Tony Nappo
Fun Stuff: George A. Romero loved Shaun of the Dead so much that he asked Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright to appear in this movie. And they did as a couple of zombies in the photo booth.