Director – George A. Romero
Cast – Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, Eugene Clark
Release Year – 2005
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Being an avid fan of George A. Romero and all of his original trio of zombie flicks (Night/Dawn/Day of the Dead), I was too stoked for words when I received word that he we be putting forth another ‘Of The Dead flick. Before hearing about this newest addition I never once thought he would continue his zombie legacy. I mean c’mon, he created an awesome trilogy over a span of 17 years that not only made him a film icon but created a horror sub-genre that has been copied numerous times. What is even more awesome about this man is that 20 years after his last zombie flick(“Day of the Dead“) he was able to put out a very positive and fun to watch modern zombie film titled Land of the Dead, showing that after all these years Mr. Romero has not missed a beat.
In this film the zombies have overtaken the world and the remaining survivors are forced to live in a walled city run by a corrupt businessman named Mr. Kaufman(Dennis Hopper). The wealthy live in a beautiful skyscraper while the “lesser” humanity is forced to live on the streets and fend for themselves with everything from food to medicine to zombies. The zombies surrounding the city are slowly progressing in the area of cognitive thought and are able to communicate roughly. Soon enough, the zombies enter the city and begin their usual hijinks of mass-infection. When a deal between a mercenary named Cholo and Mr. Kaufman goes awry, Cholo(John Leguizamo) decides to steal the cities greatest weapon against zombies, Dead Reckoning, and use it against the wealthy part of the city he worked so hard to become a part of. It is now up to Dead Reckoning’s creator, a mercenary by the name of Riley(Simon Baker), to remove Cholo from command of the vehicle and save the city from Cholo, and from the zombies.
If you are a fan of Romero’s work then I don’t see why you would not enjoy this film. Now that George actually had a budget, he was able to give us lots of zombie action and zombie gore that we were unable to get in his earlier films. I still prefer his earlier films to this one, but its nice to see him kill all the zombies he want without limitation. His direction in this film is good, and he never loses his audience. The film paced very well and kept me glued to the screen. The story for the film was a unique one given the zombies are actually able to communicate in this one. The communication is simple and reminiscent of Neanderthals, but nonetheless it continues the story we get in “Day of the Dead” with the notion that the zombies are able to think moderately and might be able to full recover someday. His use of characters also adds to what I enjoyed about this film. I was a bit iffy when I heard about John Leguizamo starring in this film but he did a good job with his role and was a pretty sweet zombie killer as well. I must also applaud Romero for giving us horror fans a treat by casting Asia Argento, legendary horror director Dario Argento’s daughter, as “Slack”. You may also remember her as the female lead, Yelana, in the Vin Diesel film XXX. To make things ever more awesome is the fact that we get Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright cameos in this film as zombies! You may remember the duo from their classic masterpiece Shaun of the Dead. Simon starred and co-write the film, and Edgar directed and co-wrote the film. Pay attention to the scene where people can get their pictures taken with zombies, the two zombies in the frotn are none other than Simon and Edgar. My biggest surprise however, was the fact that motherf*cking Dennis Hopper(forever known to me as “Frank” from “Blue Velvet”) was in this film! The legendary actor who has spanned six decades in film finally made an appearance in the zombie genre and I am still smiling over it. I will never forget his line in the film, “Zombies, man. They creep me out.” Awesome. I only wish he would have killed a ton of zombies in this film, but only in a perfect world of course.
Now onto my second favorite aspect of Romero’s films(after the zombie action of course)…the social commentary. If you know Romero’s films you know that he always has a social statement to make about today’s society. In this film he focuses more on social classes and big business/conglomerates. You get a good look at the class system in this film with how all of the privileged live in Fiddler’s Green, the high rise skyscraper free of zombies and full of self-righteous attitude. The poor of course live on the streets and must fend for themselves for mere bare necessities. To add to this, Mr. Kaufman has his hands in everything from Fiddler’s Green to everything going on in the slums of the city. Dennis Hopper said he based his character performance on none other than Donald Rumsfeld, which seems appropriate.
I don’t have any major grips with this film, but I really did not like the use of CGI in this film. This is the first film in Romero’s “Dead” series that used CGI affects for it’s kills. I understand some things just cannot be done live action, but he had some fairly simple head shots in this film that were done with CGI and very easily could have been done live action. He did however give us ALOT of live action gore which leaves me at ease over this un-Romero characteristic. One other thing I did not get with this film was that there was no “big finish” like Romero’s three prior “Dead” films. The finish to this film was not a bad one, but it paled in comparison to the classic conclusions of Night/Dawn/Day of the Dead.
Overall, this is an awesome horror flick that I suggest fans of Romero and all zombie fans give a watch. There is plenty of gore, plenty of zombies, and it’s Romero, that should be enough as is.
– I ranked this film #50 in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade(41-50) post.