Thursday, June 30, 2005

Land of the Dead (George A. Romero)

Anyone looking to find out what life is like in the United States could do a lot worse than check out George Romero's zombie trilogy (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead). These films, besides being great horror movies and hilarious satires, are populist, common-sense histories of America's cultural and political failures. Pessimistic though never cynical, Romero's zombie movies have a lot to say about racism, classism, consumerism, militarism, multiculturalism, and human nature without preaching or losing sight of the pleasure a good horror movie can provide. Now comes the fourth installment twenty years later, and it's pretty damn good. Land of the Dead delivers mightily on the zombie gore, and throws political isolationism and "terrorism"-as-buzzword into the satirical mix. It also amps up the class issues: Dennis Hopper plays the owner of a high-rise complex called Fiddler's Green that includes all the amenities of the world outside minus the zombie invasion (it's protected by high-powered electric fences and armed guards); Fiddler's Green is full of rich whites, while poor whites and minorities live in a sort of shanty town nearby; the zombies slowly get smarter, relearn how to use the tools and weapons of their pre-undead lives, and organize a revolution. It's an ambitious film and largely successful, but it's damaged by the short running time of 93 minutes. The previous three living dead films were longer, more developed. There are ideas in Land of the Dead to fill out three more movies, but its truncated length sometimes frustrates. Characters' relationships to each other are set in motion but not fleshed out, and Fiddler's Green is an intriguing setting that is not explored in as much detail as I would have liked. At any rate, it's great to have Romero's zombies back again, and the film's strengths far outnumber its weaknesses.

1 comment:

Krouchdog said...

I just saw this today and had a really good time. I loved seeing Dennis Hopper pick his nose and say, "Zombies creep me out man."

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