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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Land of the Dead(2005)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: George A. Romero

Starring:
Simon Baker/Riley
John Leguizamo/Cholo
Asia Argento/Slack
Robert Joy/Charlie
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
The “Godfather of the Undead” George Romero finally returns to the genre he created in this tale of mortal conflict within a decrepit future between evolving Zombies, rich cats living large and lowly humans. Who’s eating whom?
THE LOWDOWN

Zombies, man…they creep me out. - Kaufman

The long anticipated Land of the Dead has finally risen from its grave to haunt the night of the living shite out of us. So was it worth the 20 years wait (since 1985’s Day of the Dead)? Personally, there is no way in hell my expectations for Land of the Dead could’ve been met. They were set too damn high and as I was entering the movie theatre, I said to myself: “Self, you need to pipe down those hopes pronto or you’re going to pay the price”. So I did my best and this is what I got out of it.

Land of the Dead had George Romero stamped all over it and for this a-hole that was good freaking “front page” news! From the axis on human evil brought up through dire circumstances, to the tasty social commentary, to the actual Zombies feeling all “Romero” and shite, this baby was mucho Georgie and I loved it for it. It’s really hard to put the middle finger on “why” Romero is all class when it comes to the walking RIP, he just is. His slow moving ghouls are the best damn slow moving ghouls on the celluloid block. Thankfully, as opposed to repeating himself, Romero wound up taking things a stab further here. Following the “Bub the Zombie” cue he had put out in Day of the Dead, the undead here were evolving, learning how to fight, communicating and even managing to emote. I grooved to that particular angle, it was slyly executed while deliciously upping the stakes of the narrative at hand. My sympathy kept swaying back and forth between the humans and the Zombies and that made for a more stimulating sit down! Finally, something fresh to chomp on! If you ask me, it was the logical path to take when it comes to the progression of Romero’s Zombies.

The deviant creativity behind the lunacy also stroked my aluminum baseball bat the proper way. Although far from Dawn of the Dead 1978 gory (the uncut DVD, if there is one, might rectify that) this sucker gave me enough inventive red splats to gratify my kill-switch. It’s always apparent when actual horror fans are behind a genre jamboree and that nectar of death seeped in here abundantly and then some! I saw stuff that I had never seen before! When that Zombie priest and his dangling by a flesh string head popped up, I almost stood and cheered! It surely helped the sauce-cause that Romero surrounded himself with the best freaking effect dudes in the biz , yup, I mean the KNB boys! They brought so much detail to the Zombie makeup and aimed to freaking please with the back-handing horrific gags. Dawn of the Dead remake, Resident Evil, House of the Dead, that skank I banged last week…they aint got shit on the goodies in this film. By far the best looking walking corpses since, well, Day of the Dead hit the light of day. Add to all that decaying sweetness an endearing Mad Max on macabre pills setting, a couple of slick action scenes (Dead Reckoning owned), a mucho groovy Tom Savini cameo (Blades is back!), a gnarly use of enhancing CGI and bleak mood galore and you get a cadaver you’ll want to revive in order to kill it again! So what was the cancer running in these veins then?

Well, the flick suffered from too many ingredients and too little time too cook them properly, with the three “social classes” (zombies, the rich, the poor) being addressed but not explored enough for my liking. I wanted more in Ever Green! More Kaufman (played by the hilarious Dennis Hopper)! More Dead Reckoning mayhem! More on those “sad sack” rebels who never really rebelled! JUST DAMN MORE! Characterization was somewhat weak as well, especially when compared to Night/Dawn/Day. Sure, characters and relationships were established but they didn’t go past the surface. I wanted to get to know these people! I wanted to care about them fully! Never happened. Which brings me to my next peeve: as a result the ride wasn’t as intense or thought provoking, as it should’ve been. Although the events at hand were compelling, with medium investment in the players/situation, they lost some of their impact. Last but not least…The DUMB HORROR MOVE OF THE YEAR AWARD goes to… that prick listening to his music via headphones in a creepy and possibly Zombie infested environment. What a moron! Guess what happens to him? COME ON!

By and large, Land of the Dead was not the uber masterpiece I was hoping for, but it was still a strong return to roots for George Romero. He still got the juice to make potent gravestone milkshakes. Here’s hoping to two more sequels! RISE! RISE! RISE!

GORE
Too many gory bits, too little brain cells left to remember them all! If a hand ripped in two, gun shot wounds to the head, severed heads, chunky bites, guts eating, ripped off nails and bodies torn to pieces talks to ya, then this movie will make your day. Beers all around for KNB! Can’t wait to see the uncut version!
ACTING
Although Simon Baker (Riley) lost his American accent in places; he did an overall good job. He underplayed it at the right level while being sympathetic and charismatic enough. Asia Argento felt “off”, not sure if it was her lines or her delivery, she just didn’t work for me...and I'm a BIG FAN! John Leguizamo owned as Cholo! The character could’ve easily been a one-dimensional villain but as played by Leguizamo, I saw mucho layers and understood where he was coming from. Easily my favorite character in the film. Given the right role Dennis Hopper (Kaufman) rules the planet. Here he was a hoot and a half within his limited screen time. I wanted more of him! Robert Joy (Charlie) was on the ball as the scarred simpleton. Dug him the most! He reminded me of my dog “Cactus”. Eugene Clark (Big Daddy) moaned like champ! I felt his undead pain! Good stuff!
T & A
We get a tit shot, two girls kissing (Talk about a random scene…I respect that!) and some Asia Argento cleavage stuff! The ladies get a shirtless and toned Leguizamo.
DIRECTING
George is back in top form injecting ample atmosphere, arresting shot compositions and striking imagery into the shenanigans (that scene with the Zombies coming out of the water rocked!).
SOUNDTRACK
We get a restrained yet efficient score and a bit of everything else (rap, rock, techno). Groovy!
BOTTOM LINE
Land of the Dead was a slick watch no doubt but it wasn’t all that it could’ve been! Although it hit the dead on the head with a gratifying premise, inventive gory scenarios galore and smarts to burn, it didn’t go far enough with what it established to fully come through. It was all there but we needed 2 hours and a half to 3 hours for this story to be told the “right” way not 88 (Studio imposed?) minutes. I don’t know what’s in store for us with the DVD but along with more splatter, I hope to get some additional character and plot footage. For me that’s what makes Romero’s Dead films so special! With that said, Land of the Dead was still a highly rewarding watch, one that all genre fans should see and one that will hopefully appeal to a mainstream audience so I can get my freaking sequels!
BULL'S EYE
Other considered titles for the film were: "Dead Reckoning", "Dead City" and "Night of the Living Dead: Dead Reckoning".

George A. Romero' wanted to shoot the movie in his home town of Pittsburg but they shot in Toronto, Canada instead, to capitalize on the Tax Credits.

Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's of Shaun of the Dead have cameos here as Zombies.

READ PART 1 OF THE ARROW'S LOTD SET VISIT

READ PART 2 OF THE ARROW'S LOTD SET VISIT

READ PART 3 OF THE ARROW'S LOTD SET VISIT

VISIT THE OFFICIAL LAND OF THE DEAD SITE HERE
 

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