LAND OF THE DEAD
Universal Pictures / Atmosphere Entertainment MM 2005
This review is dedicated to my friends on the Land of The Dead
message boards on the IMDB: digfourstrings
, spectre, zippy, darkchia, alice, chris, tonythepimp, cheezymacaroni, dudufrias
and all the rest. They’re good people, but tell them that Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright are in Land Of The Dead
and there’ll be no limit to the amount of bum-kicking thou shalt receiveth. THE CHARACTERSRiley Denbo: Simon Baker
Folk hero to the oppressed masses of The Green, righteous bum-kicker of assorted zombies and bruiser of nose on armored transporters' windshields.Charlie Houck: Robert Joy
A savant with a gun: think Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man
, throw in a little Gary Cooper in Sergeant York
, give him a dead aim eye, a six shooter, facial burn scars and you have him to a T.Paul Kaufman: Dennis Hopper
Surreptitious nose-picker, millionaire and all-around idiot to think he can keep George Romero’s babies away from Fiddler’s Green. Hates petrol pump attendants who pour the gas in through the windscreen. Goes *BANG* with his useless limo and his equally useless money (which he probably stole anyway)Cholo de Mora: John Leguizamo
Riley’s ambitious colleague who wants to join the moneyed folk in Fiddler’s Green. Crack shot with a souped up blow pipe. Gets zombie’d with a vengeance and takes his on Kaufman.Slack: Asia Argento
Sigh………Beautiful resistance fighter who throws in her lot with Riley and his merry band.Pretty Boy: Joanne Boland.
Driver of the Dead Reckoning. Pretty: yes, very. Boy: no way.Number Nine: Jennifer Baxter
Probably the prettiest cheerleader zombie I have ever seen. She is rotting but she is kinda hot.Anchor: Tony Munch
Pretty Boy’s colleague ~ changes his allegiances as often as I can but don't change my undies. Gets attacked by a furious half-zombie but survives.Big Daddy: Eugene A. Clark
Frightening zombie and one time gas station attendant who seems to become more human as the picture unfolds. Leads his fellow zombies in a quest for a place to go.Mulligan: Bruce McFee
Irish rabblerouser and the leader of the havenots who take charge of Fiddler's Green.Foxy: Tony Nappo
Cholo’s only friend. Eater of terrible, disgusting things which he pays for.Chihuahua: Phil Fondacaro
Owner of the entertainment establishment where you can bet on zombies and their prey and owner of a suit that he hates to be ruined. Gets shot in the head which ruins his hat.Mike: Shawn Roberts
Over-eager soldier: gets bitten for picking up some Cuban cigars and blows his own head off.Photo booth Zombies: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Despite what many people think, the creators of Shaun of The Dead are
in this movie. LESSONS LEARNED
Never ask your personal assistant to perform a tonsillectomy on someone.
A holy war can be declared on someone's ass.
Picking up spilled Cuban cigars will get your end rather than the cigars' one bitten.
Gary Cooper’s sighting and shooting technique in Sergeant York
still works today.
S**t happens only if you let it.
Picking your nose is a sign of authority.
All zombies point at you before attacking.
All the cars in Samoa are listed as stolen.
Never allow your picture to be taken with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright: they might just demand a cut (or a bite) of the profits.
Alcohol is listed as "essential supplies".
Even zombies sometimes go a little nuts and mow the street.
Never ruin a little person’s jive talkin’, ho slappin’ pimp outfit and never threaten to carry him out in his hat either.
In a post zombie apocalypse land, fireworks are known as “flowers in the graveyard”. NOTABLE QUOTES
Foxy: “It’s Denbo….and his idiot.”
Kaufman: “You have NO RIGHT!!”
Cholo: “So what the hell is that? Screaming practice?”
Kaufman: [picks nose] “Zombies, man….. they creep me out.”
Kaufman: "You lied to me, Denbo! You didn't get DeMora, he's shooting at us!"
Riley: “That's not Cholo, Mr Kaufman. Holy sh*t, they got across the river!”
Kaufman: “Come back here you SOB, you’ve got the f*****g keys!”
Cholo: “Kaufman’s gonna pay, man. If he doesn’t, he knows I’m gonna do a jihad
on his ass.”
Chihuahua: "My suit! My suit! They ruined my f*****g suit!"
Charlie: “Sh*t happens, huh?”
Riley: “Only if you let it, Charlie.”
Kaufman: "You're interrupting me, Bill." STUFF TO WATCH FOR
3:00: I seriously think that band won’t cut it on “American Idol”.
3:15: That is more or less the kind of service you get at a South African gas station.
4:18: My Spanish is almost non existent, but I’m pretty sure John Leguizamo didn’t say “Have a nice day!” to that zombie.
20:27: Useless trivia #1: the lady with the M16 is George Romero’s daughter.
23:57: RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A DADDY ZOMBIE'S HEAD!
24:28: I’m sure that’s the SOB that worked on my car last year and then threatened me when I complained about the service.
24:50: Be a sport, give us a bite: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright!
25:35: I trust that’s food coloring and not real spray paint.
25:54: If she’s who they’re fighting over, zombiefy me any old time.
28:16: Someone’s been watching Sergeant York,
I see.32:28: RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A ZOMBIE'S NERVOUS SYSTEM OR WHAT REMAINS OF IT!
35:19: Useless trivia #2: that is George Romero’s voice saying “Take that, you smelly zombie!”
35:36: Gross! What the hell is he eating? And he paid for it too!46:21: RANDOM ACT OF NOSE PICKING BY DENNIS HOPPER!
50:41: “Bite me, Father, for I have sinned….”
1 hr 03: So that’s what them there soldiers call a hand grenade, huh?
1 hr 08: That shadow looks very, very much like…………
1 hr 08 08: Yup, thought so.
1 hr 16: Yikes, that sound……..Those zombies must have been teachers at one time or another.1 hr 18: RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST SIMON BAKER'S NOSE! OW!
1 hr 26: If Asia Argento smiled at me like that, I would melt into a puddle at her feet, my reinforced undies notwithstanding.
1 hr 28: I love this ending ~ a hopeful, upbeat one rare in any zombie film and certainly in a film by this director. THE PLOT
After the zombie apocalypse depicted in Night of The Living Dead
, Dawn of the Dead
and Day of The Dead
, the latest installment shows us that despite all that’s happened, life goes on even if it means that the masses are eating bones while those living in the tower called Fiddler’s Green in Pittsburgh are eating steaks brought in by the masses, or as the Irish rabble rouser Mulligan says “we brought in toothpicks for the bastards to pick at their gums.”
In order to retain this illusion of life as normal going on, the millionaire Paul Kaufman takes over a high rise building in Pittsburgh and rents it out to those who still have money, while isolating the poor masses in a fortified compound and using them as mules to bring in much needed supplies. Among this odd band, we find Riley Denbo, a folk hero veteran zombie battler who is just itching to find a way out and go north to Canada, to go to a place where there aren’t any fences and also to hook up with Andy, Jase and Newt.
Zombies (also referred to in not so PC terms as walkers and stenches) are all around and Riley designs a fortified rolling armory, known to all as the Dead Reckoning, which accompanies the jeep and motorcycle mounted scroungers and shoots pretty fireworks into the air to distract the stenches while the scroungers go about their work. During Riley’s last outing, of his men is bitten by a zombie who seems offended that the man wants to pinch the last Cuban cigars from the liquor shop.
One bite later, the soldier takes his own life and Riley attacks his colleague Cholo de Mora for being irresponsible, when all the latter wants to do is to suck up to Kaufman to get his own place in the Fiddler’s Green tower. Riley resigns from the scrounging team and together with his scarred savant colleague Charlie, goes in search of the car he bought, only to find that he has been had by the people who were fixing it for him. In the search for answers, he enrages the midget boss of the nightclub and saves the life of Slack who has been tossed into a zombie cage by shooting the hell out of the two undeadies. For all his trouble, he gets arrested with Charlie and Slack, the former for killing the little owner of the nightclub and the latter for not getting munched by the WWEZ [World Wide Entertainment Zombies].
After an altercation with Kaufman, Cholo headbutts the guard sent to take care of him and steals the Dead Reckoning, threatening Kaufman that he will blast the Fiddler’s Green tower to kingdom come unless Kaufman pays him and his team $5 million, with interest. Kaufman, knowing that Cholo was Riley’s man and that Riley designed the Dead Reckoning, sets him and his friends free so that they can take down the “one that got away” before that one does a little urban renewal. Kaufman sends three of his best along with Riley’s party, one of whom turns out to be a traitor (and gets face-munched for her efforts) and track down Cholo, retaking the Reckoning. Cholo chooses to hit the road with his friend Foxy and gets bitten by a zombie ~ given the choice by Foxy of having his head blown off, Cholo refuses, as he has unfinished business with Kaufman.
All the while, the zombies, under the leadership of the frightening Big Daddy are nearing the supposedly secure city ~ secure, because zombies can’t swim, can they? Yes, they can. They are drawn there by the lights of Fiddler’s Green and by their leader who is becoming human enough to get a major scare when an upended zombie appears from behind a destroyed wall. The zombies first lay waste to the slums around the tower block and it also appears that they have recruited Tom Savini as one of them. Once done there, they attack the tower block causing the haves to flee from the approaching have nots.
Kaufman flees with his nervous personal assistant and finds himself in his building’s underground garage with a revengeful Cholo (now totally zombified) pursuing him and their fight ends when Big Daddy suddenly appears, throwing a burning cylinder at them, ending both people’s problems permanently. Riley and his team race with the Reckoning to the Green and save most of the inhabitants after the Tower’s residents have become a hot lunch for the zombies. The film ends on a positive note with the Reckoning speeding off into the distance with the sky bursting with a brilliant fireworks display.
Thank you, George Romero!
I have to admit that I came to see and appreciate George Romero’s films long after they were first released. To give you an example, I only saw Night of the Living Dead
and Dawn of The Dead
about three years ago, due to them both being banned by our wonderful censor board. I have never seen Day of The Dead
and his other non-zombie films have only enjoyed spotty release in my country, such as Martin
and The Dark Half.
This film went straight to DVD in South Africa and I was so knocked out by it that I bought the DVD I was watching ~ I have not done that before, nor have I done it since. I watched the making of before I watched the film and it brought something home to me of how George Romero works and how others work with him. No-one seems to be working for
him, but with
him. I have heard some horror stories of how our hard working South African film crews and actors are treated by some foreign filmmakers ~ colleagues of mine worked with John Moore on the needless remake of Flight of The Phoenix
and I shuddered when I heard what they said. Romero is a filmmaker’s filmmaker who says “Do it” and it is done, no tantrums needed or expressed. I would consider it an honor to work with him, even if it meant just bringing him a mug of coffee now and then.
As far as I am aware, George Romero’s last zombie-themed film was the 1985 release Day of the Dead
in which the special effects and make up master Gregory Nicotero got to work as an assistant with his idol. Twenty years later, the wheel turned full circle with Greg Nicotero working again with George Romero, this time supervising all the make up and zombie designs. Nicotero’s work on this film is, for want of a better word, stunning and the zombies, while not the bad guys per se, look really dead and revolting. The detail shown on the zombies is truly amazing and the destruction via eating, tearing and shredding etc makes me think that they are really getting in on the biting action.
As I said before, I bought the DVD I was watching as I was really impressed by the production values of what is essentially a low budget film ~ even if it cost close to $16 million ~ and the way that George Romero and his team make the film look more expensive than it actually was. The eerie blue-toned photography and the visible coldness of the weather in Toronto during filming adds to the visual spectacle.
There are more than a few surprises for the unwary viewer: Tom Savini pops up in one scene while the two guys from Shaun of The Dead
, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright do a cameo as two enraged photo booth zombies. While the film is funny in places, George Romero does not hold back on the guts and gore though ~ there are some scenes of people becoming zombie munchies that made me scream and grab my Teddy, especially one where a zombie bites someone’s navel ring out. What amazed me the most was that the cast genuinely enjoyed (or seemed to anyway) the experience of working with the man Simon Pegg affectionately refers to as “the Dead Father”. I would enjoy it too and I would also work for free for him, all he would have to do is give me a place to sleep and food to eat.
The enjoyment of the cast shows through and the movie is all the better for it ~ I have only ever read one complaint about this film and the idiot who complained shouldn’t have. Their complaint was that George Romero had a black hero in all of the three Dead films preceding this one, so what happened?
Ummm….. isn’t Big Daddy (Eugene A. Clark) the hero, even if he is a zombie? There you go, problemo solved.