LAND OF THE DEAD
The world has changed: those who can afford it, are crowded into expensive, high security high rises like Fiddler’s Green, but the poor and wretched scuttle in the shadows, while the 'walkers' - the walking dead zombies - grow ever larger in numbers, seemingly acquiring the hint of conscious thought, threatening all living humans with their urgent, insatiable need for human flesh. Opportunists thrive, like the powerful and manipulative Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) of Fiddler's Green, who uses outside mercenaries like Riley (Simon Baker) and his No 2, Cholo (John Leguizamo) to acquire goods for the residents. Protected by their armoured vehicle, Dead Reckoning, they run the daily and nightly risks among the walking dead. When they both decide to get out, Cholo commandeers Dead Reckoning and tries to extort millions from Kaufman, who looks to Riley to get rid of this threat. Meanwhile, the walkers are heading for Fiddler's Green.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Aaah, that familiar squelch of human flesh, as zombies get their foul fangs into body parts, or the unmistakable tearing sound of heads ripping off shoulders, the robotic motion of the walking dead and the menacing deadpan looks on their faces as they march unstoppably towards their next manly meal ... if you're a fan, you'll already be in the queue to buy a ticket and not reading this.
But if you're still reading this, it's a pleasure to report that George A. Romero's latest film - 20 years after his third (there was Night of the Living Dead , Dawn of the Dead , and Day of the Dead ), is a great way to start acquiring a taste for zombie movies. It's perfectly pitched into this century, without losing the essential elements of his classic ouvre. The zombies are not glammed up by FX or CGI, the performances (of the living at least) are solidly dramatic and the story is terrific. Romero gets the balance just right to make zombie movies the new black. Again.
At around 66, Romero is neither a newcomer nor a filmmaker past his prime; he knows his genre, because he created it. And he knows how to maintain it without falling back on clichee but knowing what elements are sacrosanct. And how to tell a good story.
Unlike a typical B horror flick, though, Land of the Dead boasts a cast of mid ranking marquee names, all of whom have the chops to make this film not only work on its own merits, but to ensure that it reaches the widest possible audience with its easily accessible emotional touch points, the credible characters and a sense of humour that infuses the film in a variety of subtle and not so subtle ways. If you're so inclined, you can dig deeper into the socio-economic and socio-political symbolism of the film, some subtle others blatant.
But that's not what most fans will do. ... Dig the scene when a grenade wielding soldier has his hand chopped off, after he's pulled the pin - and see what Romero does with this idea to know you're in the hands of a zombie movie master.
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FEATURE by Richard Kuipers
LAND OF THE DEAD (MA)
CAST: Dennis Hopper, Simon baker, John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, Robert Joy
PRODUCER: Mark Canton, Peter Grunwald, Bernie Goldman
DIRECTOR: George A. Romero
SCRIPT: George A. Romero
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Miroslaw Baszak,
EDITOR: Michael Doherty
MUSIC: Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Arv Greywal
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 4, 2005
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.