George A. Romero's Land of the Dead
Solid Edition to the Zombie Genre
After a 20 year hiatus George Romero returned to the genre he created with Land of the Dead. Like it’s three predecessors, it is much more thought provoking than the typical zombie film. Much of the film takes place in an isolated city, closed off from the barren wastelands that surround it by a large river and an electric fence.
The film presents us with the concept of intelligent zombies, originally explored by Romero in Day of the Dead. The zombies begin to remember who they were before they perished and also wise up to a few of our tricks. This means trouble as Big Daddy leads a following of zombies towards the city walls. The film also toys with the idea that we are an equal threat to ourselves as our undead counterparts.
I wish more time would have been spent exploring the social structure of the city. There is a definite divide between the upper and lower class, with no real middle class present. We are shown what life on the streets entails but little of what life was like inside Fiddler’s Green. Is this really a desirable way to live? While not as cramped as a shopping mall or military bunker, living out your life in such an environment seems almost as depressing as the world outside the city walls.
The scares of the film are a bit predictable but as a whole it works nicely. Romero presents us with many great shots off the living dead as the make their approach and later ravage the city. As it turns out those within the city’s walls aren’t that safe and they’re efforts to keep the undead out has trapped them inside. The gore is plentiful and refrains from going over the top although it comes close on a few occasions.
Land of the Dead is often overlooked with more recent zombie films like 28 Days Later and the remake of Dawn of the Dead getting more media attention. George Romero is the true master of the zombie genre though and he shows us why in this film. While not as great or groundbreaking as Night or Dawn the film is certainly entertaining and more thought provoking than one might suspect from a genre film.